Blog # 16 Breaking Bad…Candles on a Japanese Black Pine

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I know that was sort of a bad metaphor for a show I have never seen, but the candles that need to be broken are sort of…Bad. Why do we break candles? We break candles to distribute the energy from that bad candle or the candle sapping or stealing extra energy from the rest of the tree and the zones they are in. Please stop by and join my group on Facebook


Notice one of these candles is not like the others!

Whenever we think of Japanese Black pine you should mentally divide our trees into three zones. The top, middle and bottom. The top is almost always the strongest, the middle not as strong and the lowest portion of your black pine the weakest part of the tree. There are a few exceptions, there are times that the tips of the branches can also be strong in any zone. We must also remember that the interior of all zones are also usually weaker. That should help you when you think of how to control the growth of your tree.

Do we pinch candles? I guess you could but when I break candles I can hear an audible snap letting me know that I have done what is needed to slow this one candles growth.


Can you really see the out of balance candle?

Why else do we break candles? We break candles to evenly distribute the energy of the tree to the other candles. If you have one overly strong candle or few overly candles they can weaken the other candles from that zone or branch and pull the necessary energy to the strongest candle, making your trees energy distribution off kilter. Our Goal is to have the same size candles throughout the whole tree. This is another method to help us achieve that goal.


This is a better example of candles all the same size. This is also after breaking two candles to match the others.

Does one break candles on newer trees in training? This is a good question. It depends on the stage of development of your tree, and what are you trying to accomplish. Are you building a trunk or branch? Then I would say no, not until your tree gets closer to a refinement stage tree? It would probably not be necessary unless at the very top of the tree you have excessively strong candles. A better way to distribute energy would be to de-candle in June and then cut back…but that is another blog

Is breaking candles the same as de-candling. Not only no but hell no? This is where you smile!! Breaking candles is usually done in April on a little bit more of a finished tree or during refinement. De-candling is done around June time frame, this again would be done on a little bit more of a finished tree or to equal out the energy distribution.

This tree is still in training, but the top is beginning to be refined...notice all the candles are about the same size.

How do you break a candle? You hold the base of the candle with your thumb and forefinger and the using your other hand you break the longer candles to match the same size as the rest of the candles. The candle usually break very easily when done correctly and usually break when you bend it to one side if it doesn’t break bend it to the other side and will fall into our hand. You do this so that all of your candles that are in a certain area remain the same size during the growing season until you need to thin to two candles in June.

Here is to your freaking bonsai journey!




Written by Ron Anderson — April 30, 2014