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September 2020 Meeting

Lindsey and Glenys Bebb

After a morning of assisting members in a free workshop, which was, well-utilised, Lindsay made a presentation on black pines. He debunked some of the myths about them being a hard tree to manage and broke down the care into easy to digest sections. He discussed the pests and their treatment as well as repotting and pruning.

Notes from Lindsey Bebb on Black Pines

Three main periods to work on black pines

Spring (August , September)

▪ Rough pruning
▪ Needle and candle pruning.
▪ Repotting
o Summer (End of December)
▪ Revisit the tree. Thin out and balance growth.


▪ Needle clean up if needed.
▪ Candle prune if needed.
For pines, you need to start designing tree and branches as early in the tree’s progress as possible.
o A long branch with no needles on it (old wood) will not shoot back.
o Better to start when the branch is young / short.

Growth whorls

o There are shoots all around the end of the branch and needs to be addressed.
o Reduce to two shoots, choosing those pointing in the direction you want (usually removing those pointing up and down).
• In Spring new candles grow.
o Candles cut in spring will have new buds appear by about October to choose from.
• For needle thinning, cut back two and three year old needles behind the growing points where you have left needles as opposed to plucking.
o This leaves the needle sheath (whitish part at the bottom) where new buds will grow from.
o Can pluck needles as opposed to cutting from underside of branches where you don’t want new buds to be forming.

• For larger trees, break up the needle thinning into 3 zones (top, middle and lower branches).
o Take more needles off from the top zone as this is the strongest area. Take less needles from the middle, and even less from the lower zone compared to the zone above.
o As a rough guide, leave 3 needles on each shoot for the top zone, 5-7 for the middle and 7-9 for the bottom/lower zone.
o If the shoot is weak (eg inner branches), leave the needles on.

• In Spring, remove all candles, they will grow back forming new candles.
o If you cut candles in Summer, little ‘rosettes’ of buds will form instead of normal candles.

  • Needles last about three years, so need to prune back to get the growth further back.
  • It is okay to do trimming and repotting in the same season.
  • The flower buds are lighter and larger than shoots and release pollen when touched.
    o Remove these when they are young as the new needles don’t grow until the flower buds havematured. This will help speed up Bud growth.
  • When pruning older trees, show some of the wood in the branches to show structure and age.
  • Pest Controlo Most common pest for SE QLD is Pine Adelgid. Symptoms are shoot tips with white fluffy parts.
    • Can be treated with Lime Sulphur. Spray 2 weeks apart.
    • 20ml/L for a winter spray.
    • 10ml/L for warmer months.
    • If you want, you can add a teaspoon of household detergent to get through the wooly coatingof the insect.
    •  Another pest is Scale. Symptoms are black spots and pale needles. ▪ Treat with Lime Sulphur as above.
  • Never use White Oil on conifers!


Repot in Spring any time between roots showing white growth tips when you lift it out of the pot, up until the needles start to open on the new candles.
o The white stuff around the roots is a beneficial fungus called Mycorrhiza.
o Put some from the soil back into the new pot if you don’t see any on the roots to help colonisation. 
o For the first couple of repots of a tree, prune a cone in the root ball directly underneath the trunk to get rid of old roots and soil. This will keep these roots small and encourage the side roots to grow.
o Remove the tap root when you can.
o Some pines have a woody mound which comes from fused roots at the base. This will not improve over the years. Good stock selection early is the key.
o To check if your tree needs repotting, use a chopstick and poke down into the soil. If it goes in, then it doesn’t need a repot.
o Pine trees should be repotted every 2-4 years. o

Repotting aftercare

o After repotting, the trees are put back to their original position if done early in Spring when maximum temperatures are under 30°C. If warmer, when you have repotted, then shade a bit until recovered. Give the tree a good watering in the morning to last the day.

If the Temperatures are 34°+C, he will check the trees to see if they need additional watering.


o Any soil used needs to dry out between subsequent watering for pines.
o Trees that are on rocks are not in full sun as they dry too quickly.
o Basically any mix can be used but it depends on your lifestyle, how often you can water, your local climate, and how you water (eg hand or automatic).