Japanese Black Pine (Pinus Thunbergii) Species Guide - Bonsai-En

Japanese Black Pine (Pinus Thunbergii) Species Guide

What Is Japanese Black Pine?

The Japanese Black Pine (Pinus Thunbergii) is a species of pine tree that is native to Japan and parts of Korea. It is a coniferous evergreen tree that grows to a height of 30-50 meters and is known for its distinctive dark green needles and rough, scaly bark. The Japanese Black Pine is a slow-growing tree and can live for hundreds of years, with some specimens reported to be over 1,000 years old. It is also highly adaptable to a variety of growing conditions, making it a popular choice for bonsai.
The Japanese Black Pine does better in warmer climates unlike its red and white pine counterparts. The black pine is generally a low elevation coastal tree, in fact this is how the de-candling technique was discovered. In certain parts of japan during the summer months they have typhoons which rip through the coast which knocks of the current years candles, The Japanese had noticed that once these candles had been knocked of the tree responded with a second smaller flush of growth.

Japanese Black Pine as Bonsai

  1. Soil and Potting: The strength in pines comes from their roots so a proper pot and soil is paramount to the success of black pine as bonsai. Japanese Black Pine bonsai should be grown in well-draining soil that is formulated specifically for bonsai trees, an example of this would be a 1:1:1 mix of Akadama, Pumice and Kiryu. The soil should be slightly acidic and should provide adequate nutrients for the tree. It is important to choose a pot that is the appropriate size for the tree, as this will help regulate root growth and ensure proper drainage. 
  2. Watering: Japanese Black Pine bonsai should be watered regularly, but the frequency of watering will depend on the climate, humidity levels, and other environmental factors. The soil should never be allowed to dry out completely, but at the same time, it should not be constantly wet, as this can lead to root rot and your needle tips will become yellow if the tree stays too wet.
  3. Pruning: Japanese Black Pine bonsai should be pruned at optimal times to ensure success, Larger branch removal should be done while the tree is slowing down its growth to reduce sap bleed, the best time for this is during autumn. The trees candles should be pruned during summer to promote further budding for ramification. Depending on the size of your tree you will either do this early or late summer, larger trees will be done first while smaller tree will be done later to make sure the size of the new needles is in proportion to the tree.
  4. Training: Japanese Black Pine bonsai can be trained into a variety of shapes and styles, and this requires the use of techniques such as wiring, de-candling, bud selection and needle plucking. Wiring should be done in late summer or autumn while the tree is still growing but at a slower rate, if wired in spring the wire can bite in fast on a young healthy tree, as the tree gets older the wiring can be done earlier in the growing season.
  5. Re-potting: Re-Potting of black pine is best done in the early spring once the overnight temperatures begin to get a little warmer ( 10 - 15c ) but before the day time temperatures get too hot. This ensures that the tree can actively begin re-growing roots which limits the chances of rotted roots which can be an issue if repotting is done to early.
  6. Fertilising: If your tree is in development you can fertilise heavily through out the entire growing season to help promote the rapid growth of the tree. For a tree in refinement you will want to be a little more calculated as to how much you fertilise and when you fertilise. Generally we fertilise at the beginning of spring but then remove the fertiliser 4 weeks before de-candling begins to avoid the new shoots getting too long. Once bud selection is done in autumn we can re apply fertiliser again.



    In conclusion, the Japanese Black Pine is a versatile and beautiful tree that has been prized for centuries for its unique appearance, character, and cultural significance. Whether grown as a bonsai, in a landscape, or for its timber, the tree has earned its place as a classic and important species in many cultures around the world. With its hardiness, versatility, and classic beauty, the Japanese Black Pine is an excellent choice for anyone looking to add a timeless and elegant touch to their garden, landscape, or collection of bonsai trees. Whether you are a seasoned bonsai enthusiast or a beginner, the Japanese Black Pine is a tree that is sure to bring a sense of tradition, beauty, and versatility to your collection.

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

    • Brach Cutter + Scissor Bundle

      These are the 2 most essential tools in bonsai, so why not buy them together and save? Both tools are high quality Japanese Steel from one of the most trusted brands in bonsai. Click the image above to get your discount.

    • Essential Scissors Bundle

      In bonsai you will need a set of scissors to cut the foliage on top and the roots down below. Save when you buy both pairs with this bundle offer. Both tools are high quality Japanese Steel from one of the most trusted brands in bonsai. Click the image above to get your discount.

    • Protect Your Tool Investment

      When investing in high carbon steel tools it is wise to protect them with tool oil to maintain optimal performance. Save 10% when you bundle the tool oil and the applicator together. Click the image above to get your discount.

    • Cut Paste Bundle

      When we trunk chop or break branches during wiring it is best practise to get the wound covered straight away with cut paste or putty. Putty is used for larger wounds while paste is used for cracks, breaks and grafts. Get both today at a discount price when bought as a bundle. Click the image above to browse our range and select your pastes.

    • 100g Bonsai Wire Deal

      Wiring you bonsai trees will be a large part of your practise, make sure oyu have all the wire you need on hand and ready to go with our 100g bonsai wire deal. Add any 5 rolls to your cart and only pay for 4! Click The Image Above To Choose Your Rolls.

    • 500g Bonsai Wire Deal

      If you are a serious wiring machine and require a little extra wire on hand our 500g rolls are perfect, What makes them even better is if you add any 5x Rolls to your cart you will get $10 off. Stock up and be ready for any wiring job. Click The Image Above To Choose Your Rolls.

    1 of 6
    bonsai artist with bonsai tree

    Author : Joshua Hooson

    Joshua Hooson is an author and enthusiast of the art of bonsai. He has built his knowledge and understanding of bonsai through a combination of self-experience, lessons learned through hands-on practice, and extensive research. His articles reflect his passion for the subject and offer insights gained through his own personal journey in the world of bonsai. All the information provided in his works is a result of his own experiences and the knowledge he has gained through his studies. He is dedicated to sharing his love of bonsai and helping others grow in their understanding and appreciation of this ancient and beautiful art form.

    Learn Bonsai Online With Josh