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New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

Posted by HiddenWalrus USDA Zone 5, Indiana (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 20:08

I recieved a small norfolk pine tree as a gift today, and for once this one isn't painted garishly bright green for Christmas like all the others I've seen but has been left natural. It consists of five little plants, and originally three were about 15 inches tall and two about 9 inches. In the car, one of the taller stems was broken back to 8 inches. It still has a few sets of branches. Will this trunk ever develop a new growing point(s) or wil it die back now? Should I leave it or chop it down completely?

i know 5 plants per pot isn't an ideal way to grow them but I do not want to risk harming the plants dividing them (and have no room for 5 individual trees inside).


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

It will probably develop a new growing point. Clip the broken leader cleanly and the new one will emerge below it....probably in the spring. All of those other seedlings will disguise the imperfect one.


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RE: New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

It will probably develop a new growing point. Clip the broken leader cleanly and the new one will emerge below it....probably in the spring. All of those other seedlings will disguise the imperfect one.


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RE: New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 4, 12 at 22:08

W/o pictures, it's hard to tell what you have going on, but there are a couple of other alternatives. If you leave the stub, it can serve as a stake to tie a branch to. Here's an example to illustrate:

This is a larch I was about to start work on.
Photobucket

Notice that I've stubbed off the leader and left the stub about 4-5" long. If you look at the long branch at the top left, you can see how easy it would be to tie that branch to the stub. Apically dominant trees, like larch and NIPs, somehow recognize branches trained to the vertical as the new leader, and will quickly start putting energy into the branch you trained to the vertical.

If there's not enough of a stub, you can simply wire a branch that favors vertical growth upward as the new leader. Something like this:
Photobucket

You can see that I could easily have wired the two branches on the left so they are vertical. The main trunk on this tree will be severed so it's cut off even with the 2 wired branches coming off the trunk opposite each other.

BTW - you can still have a very nice composition, even if you DON'T develop a new leader on the broken trees.

Maple - clump style

There are 3 trees in this 5-tree maple clump/grove planting that don't have an apex.

Al


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RE: New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

So are you saying that if I stake up one of the horizontal branches vertically, it wil begin to grow as a new leader? If I staked up two, will the tree grow two leaders? I didn't think these branches could do anything but grow horizontally and that a new shoot had to sprout off the main trunk.


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RE: New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 7:57

What I said is true. We do it all the time in bonsai, and it's part of how we build taper into our trees to make them look old
Photobucket

In the maple above, the small wired branch will be the tree's new leader. The old trunk will be severed immediately above where the branch emerges from the much fatter trunk, so it makes the tree tapered. Building a good bonsai usually involves several trunk chops like this, so you can see how common it must be. You can actually see the old scar (look for the cut paste used to cover it - below the branch/new leader) where this has already been performed once on this tree.

This is a China doll:
Photobucket

If you stake up 2 from the same tree, the plant will have co-dominant leaders, a condition usually avoided because it confuses the eye. As you follow the trunk upward, where the leaders bifurcate, the eye becomes confused and you don't know which leader to follow. The result, unless you're trained to look for it, is the feeling that something is unnatural, which is why it's avoided in bonsai - unless it's a purposeful manipulation very low on the trunk to create a twin trunk planting from a single trunk.

Al


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RE: New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

Thanks for so much information. But I read on a few other sites that the NIP is one of few conifers that will not develop a new leader from a horizontal shoot. Have you ever done it with one or only with other conifers?


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RE: New Norfolok pine tree, stem snapped halfway down

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 14:54

I remember reading that. Before I risk putting my foot deeper into my mouth than I already might have - give me a little time while I wait on a more definitive answer. I posted the question over at CONIFERS.

Al


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