How to Prune a Japanese Black Pine


Japanese black pines are popular both as ornamental trees and as bonsai trees. Bonsai is the art of growing trees in a small pot to limit their size. Through careful pruning and training with wire, the trees begin to take on visual characteristics of much larger trees growing in adverse conditions in nature. As ornamental trees, Japanese black pines are often used in coastal plantings. The tree is very tolerant of salt both in the air and in the soil. Black pine grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 6 through 8.

Step 1

Prune the tree from the bottom up by removing lower branches before moving higher on the tree. The right tool will depend on the thickness of the branch. For bonsai Japanese black pines, use bonsai pruners. For larger trees with branches less than 3/4 of an inch thick, use pruning shears. For larger branches, use a pruning saw.

Step 2

Move around the tree as you prune to see the effects of your branch removal from different angles.

Step 3

Move up the tree, removing as few branches as possible to create the desired look. With some bonsai looks, removing more branches is acceptable, but may stress the tree.

Step 4

Prune smaller branches from larger branches once you have done your bottom-up pruning. The same rules for tools apply. Use shears for smaller branches and saws for larger branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning tools, shears or saws, depending on tree size


  • University of Connecticut: Searching for Substitutes for the Japanese Black Pine
  • University of Florida: Japanese Black Pine
Keywords: tree pruning, Japanese black pine, pine tree care

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.