Jack Pine Bonsai

Pinus banksiana or Jack pine is a species of pine tree named for Sir Joseph Banks. Banks was a British botanist who traveled with Captain Cook on his first main voyage in the late 1700s.

Jack pine has around 75 species which are all named for Banks.

It is known by many common names including Black pine, Black Jack pine, Hudson Bay pine and scrub pine.

Pendulous cultivars grow over 2 meters in the wild.

Dwarf and broom cultivars are ideal for making bonsai trees.

It’s a hardy tree so Jack pine bonsais work well even if you are just starting out.

jack bonsai

Source: Things About Trees


Anatomy of Jack Pine

Jack pine are native to the northern US and Canada.

This broad and upright tree grows anywhere from 3 feet to over 75 feet in the landscape. Some of the largest specimens will tower at 100 feet or more.

The Jack pine can cope well even with poor soil. They grow naturally on rocky, sandy hills so they are used to thriving where many other plants simply will not grow.

Growing wild, these trees will live for anything between 75 years and over 200 years.

When they are seedlings, Jack pines grow a taproot which is carried through as the tree ages. This taproot can reach depths of as much as 10 feet. The main part of the root system, though, is made up of lateral roots in the upper part of the soil.

Trunk and Stem

The bark of the Jack pine bonsai is fairly thick and develops noticeable cracks over time.

Branches tend to grow naturally with a somewhat rough and bedraggled appearance.


The twisted pine needles come in pairs. These are known as fascicles. They normally measure 1 or 2 inches but they can be reduced still more using the best bonsai techniques.

Colors are anywhere in the range of yellow through to dark green.

Seeds, Flowers and Fruits

Jack pine are known as monoecious. This means that the male and female segments are on the same plant but different flowers.

Female cones are ovulate and usually occur on the first and second branches in the upper part of the tree crown. These cones are long shoots.

Male cones are called staminate and these are found on the tertiary branches rather lower down. The male cones are dwarf shoots.

Cones will mature towards the end of summer or into early fall.

How To Care For Jack Pine Bonsai Trees

We will have a look now at some key points to consider if you plan to grow a Jack pine bonsai at

jack pine bonsai

Source: Art of Bonsai


Make sure that you have soil that will drain very well. The Jack pine prefers soil that’s either neutral or a little acidic.

You can go for a mix with up to 50% sand.

Another option is a conifer mix:

  • 1 part pumice
  • 1 part lava rock
  • 1 part akadama
  • 1/2 cup charcoal
  • 1/2 cup decomposted granite


You should water plentifully but do not go over the top and allow it to bog down.

Between waterings, you should let the soil dry out almost completely.

While Jack pine are extremely resilient to a lack of water in the wild, when cultivating bonsais you need to keep a far closer eye on watering.


Full sun will give you best results.

Your Jack pine will be very intolerant to shady conditions so give it what it wants most and ensure oodles of sun.


When it comes to fertilizer, you should provide your Jack pine bonsai with a balanced feed throughout the year.

Tail off with the fertilizer towards the fall. Stop completely during the winter.

If you shoot for an acidic fertilizer, this will provide your tree with what it needs most.


The growth of new roots with Jack pines can be pretty slow going.

When repotting, leave in some of the old soil. Mycorrhizal is a beneficial bacteria that the Jack pine needs and this can be found in the soil.

Repotting should be carried out anywhere from every other year to once every five years.

Be sure to use a light touch when repotting your tree and go easy on the roots.

Pruning Your Bonsai

jack pine pruning

With trees, anything that could weaken it is known as an insult. Some examples of insults include:

  • Repotting
  • Drastic reduction of foliage
  • Pruning
  • Wounding
  • Bud removal
  • Heavy wiring

With Jack pine, you should limit these insults to once a year only.

Don’t stagger your pruning over a period of months. Do it once properly then be patient and wait a year. This will be best for your bonsai.

When you see signs of vigorous growth, your Jack pine will be ready for another round of pruning.

Concave cuts should be avoided completely. This plays havoc with the sap in the area and can cause issues further up the tree trunk. Allow plenty of time for any cuts to heal.

Remove any needles from the underside or the top of the branches.

Get rid of any weak buds.

To Wire or Not To Wire?

Restrict your wiring to young and healthy specimens.

While young branches might set in a year, older branches could take considerably longer. As with all elements of growing bonsai trees, patience is essential every step of the way.


You have a wide choice of forms and styles with the Jack pine.

Upright and broom styles, however, don’t work well.

Due to their naturally wild nature, formal styling is also a no-no with this particular tree. Rather than fight against this, embrace it instead.

Pests and Diseases

Look out for aphids, weevils, rust and borers.

Sawfly and budworm can also be problematic.


We hope that you have enjoyed this glance at the Jack pine bonsai.

Forming these miniature trees is time-consuming but extremely rewarding. If you are looking for something different in your garden, consider giving bonsais a try.

If you have any questions at all then don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.

Happy growing!

igarden Planting

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This