Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

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Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  louvega on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:51 pm

Hello folks. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. I have a very basic idea where to begin. I've read a couple of books about the basics - soil, pots, wiring etc. and have had some experience "killing" my first bonsai when I was in my teens, so to get to the point:

I just got a Korean Boxwood from the nursery and I hear that these are ideal subjects for bonsai and I'm interested in where to begin. I've obtained my tools, annealed aluminum wire, pot, location (on my patio, second floor, NE view, semi-sunny and kind of sheltered by an awning) so I think I'm ready to start pruning, cutting the roots and putting in a pot. (I should mention that I replanted once, from the original nursery root-bound pot to a much larger, typical planter pot - definitely not a bonsai pot) just to get it out. It's had some new shoots from about 3 weeks or so when I purchased it.

I live in the Northeastern USA, Zones 6a - 6b and it's the last week of July as of this post. You can contact me at my email address directly if you'd like. Just remove the spam: lousmailSPAM@hotmail.com

So, my "question" is, where do I begin? I'd like to re-pot, trim the roots, wire and prune and get this started. Can I do all these things at once (I would assume not, but please suggest) and if not, what are my first steps and when?

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  fiona on Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:00 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum.

Can you post us a pic please as it's always advisable to see what we're commenting on.

Thanks

Picture posting info (if you haven't already found it) is HERE

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  JimLewis on Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:49 pm

Yup. A picture will help.

That said, July and August are NOT the time to repot, so if your plant seems to have survived its move from nursery to other pot, you might do best to concentrate on the upper part of your tree.

But give us a picture; give us some scale so we know the size, and show us the pot you have chosen. I'm sure ideas will flow freely from that point on -- not all good ideas, but . . . .

What books do you have? We have some mini-reviews of many bonsai books in the first forum. http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/f4-top-threads-faq-s-and-tutorials

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  louvega on Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:02 pm

Hello ladies and gents. Thanks for the input so far. In answer to your questions:

The books I have are:
Bonsai - The Complete Guide to Art and Technique by Paul Lesniewicz, Hardcover, 1990ed.
The Masters' Book of Bonsai, compiled by Directors of The Japan Bonsai Association, 10th ed, 1989
The Art of Bonsai: Creation, Care and Enjoyment by Yuji Yoshimura and Giovanna Halford, 37th ed., 2000

And here are the pictures of my Korean Boxwood. I placed a spraypaint can for some perspective and of course, the ruler. To specify, the pot is approximately 12.5" in diameter and about 15" deep. The plant itself is approximately 12" in diameter, give or take a few on the LxWxH.



IMAG0265 by louvega06, on Flickr


IMAG0267 by louvega06, on Flickr


IMAG0268 by louvega06, on Flickr


Oh, and I haven't had the opportunity to get the pot today, but I'm thinking a plain clay, gray or clay something in a subdued color, most likely unglazed (but if something glazed strikes me, then...). I'm thinking square and possibly training in upright informal, but I don't know for sure. I'll confirm when I get to the plant shop but I'm thinking maybe something like one of these:


pot2 by louvega06, on Flickr


pot1 by louvega06, on Flickr



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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  fiona on Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:25 am

Can I suggest you go to the Home page and type "Korean boxwood" into the google search box? There you will find a number of previous threads from members about this tree and possible styling options. What you could do is look at the trunk and branch structure on some of those trees in the previous threads and see how they compare to that on your own tree. That would be a good start point.

We would need to see closer details of the trunk and main branches of your plant before we could give any really meaningful suggestions. Do you have a decent camera with a macro setting on it that could take such pictures? Many thanks.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  louvega on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:55 am

Ok, maybe I'm misunderstanding but can I start the pruning of the top of the plant now? Also, when would it be ok to trim the roots and re-pot it into the bonsai pot?

Thanks

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  BonsaiJim on Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:09 am

Good "classic" references.... do not assume, as many of is did BI (Before Internet) that you can do all the techniques in one go as many of those books present/imply...

So I would suggest you follow Fiona's direction and conduct a search here and on some of the other forums. PAy particular attention to situations that match yours in regard to material and climate.

Typically you conduct one major insult per year to a tree at most. For example, if you just repotted and cleaned out the rootball or pruned you should not expect to whack it back and wire, etc. unless you reall yknow what you are doing and can provide proper aftercare.

You should be able to clear out unnecessary branches- those too low, inside curves, bar branches, etc. until you can get a better line. You can also start creating forked/alternating branch systems on the limmbs you do decide to keep. Proceed slowly and thoughtfully and you'll do okay!

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Dendrogeek on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:43 am


Lou,
Cut every branch back to two inches at most. Then you (we) can examine the trunk and suggest which branches to eliminate completely and which to develop further. You might even get a virtual design or two...

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  louvega on Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:02 am

Wow! Two inches? Really? That seems drastic. BTW, what's a virtual design?

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  fiona on Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:25 am

Lou, it's when people use a programme such as Photoshop to create a virtual image (often called a virt or virtual) of how someone's tree could look. (See my own thread and you can see how Pavel Slovak has created such an image - it is HERE )

BUT, for members to be able to do that for you we need a good idea of the structure of your tree otherwise it just becomes a guess. You can see why a good picture is important perhaps now and as Dendrogeek and others have said, we especially need to see the trunk and the main branches so anyone who is going to help you - either with written suggestions or a virt - can base their suggestions on what is actually there. I don't know Korean Boxwood but over here our box trees can either have one trunk or many. We cannot tell right now what the situation is with yours from your existing pic.

Hope that helps.

ps as BonsaiJim says, don't be in too much of a hurry - probably a good clean out to get the basic structure is all you want to do right now. That's probably a better option than an allover "buzzcut" at the moment until you get a clearer idea of where you want to take this tree.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:44 pm

Dendrogeek wrote:
Lou,
Cut every branch back to two inches at most. Then you (we) can examine the trunk and suggest which branches to eliminate completely and which to develop further. You might even get a virtual design or two...
Not sure how Korean Boxwood back buds but my limited experience with Buxus microphylla has been to always leave some green at the ends when pruning. Otherwise, the branch is very likely to die. Others reported differently so YMMV.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:49 pm

I think cutting back to 2 inches may be a bit much for you to do with your apparent level of experience. To see what we mean by exposing the structure of the tree, go to any of Russell Coker's recent "boxwood" threads in "Bonsai Discussion" and scroll thru the pictures.


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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Dendrogeek on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:28 pm

JimLewis wrote:I think cutting back to 2 inches may be a bit much for you to do with your apparent level of experience.

You don't need experience to cut branches, just a sharp tool. Indeed, doing such things is how you gain experience. At some point all the branches will have to be reduced to two inches or less and rebuilt, so it might as well be at the outset. In fact in many cases, with all broadleaved species, the existing branches are cut right off and regrown from scratch. Pussying around taking things easy wastes time and leads to nowhere.

Lou, all bonsai design is based on the trunk shape, proportion, etc., so that's where you start.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:37 pm

Dendrogeek wrote:
JimLewis wrote:I think cutting back to 2 inches may be a bit much for you to do with your apparent level of experience.

You don't need experience to cut branches, just a sharp tool. Indeed, doing such things is how you gain experience. At some point all the branches will have to be reduced to two inches or less and rebuilt, so it might as well be at the outset. In fact in many cases, with all broadleaved species, the existing branches are cut right off and regrown from scratch. Pussying around taking things easy wastes time and leads to nowhere.

Lou, all bonsai design is based on the trunk shape, proportion, etc., so that's where you start.
Your advise, while have merit, is irresponsible IMHO, because it can lead to the plant's demise.

You need to factor the plants type, vigor, capability to back bud, person's location/weather, time of year, etc. etc.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  David D on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:55 pm

For what is is worth I obtained 2 boxwoods from a closeout at a local nursery several years ago, great looking trunks beautiful foliage etc. I got over zealous and worked both the roots and the foliage in my haste to get my little schrub to look more like a bonsai. It was mid summer. Looked good for a while and ended up in the burn pile the following spring. I got another last year and have followed the one insult per year rule and it is fairing well even in this severe summer weather. I am sure I have killed more trees by overworking them than from water or fertilizer issues. Be patient and you will be rewarded.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Dendrogeek on Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:02 pm

Poink88 wrote:
Your advise, while have merit, is irresponsible IMHO, because it can lead to the plant's demise. You need to factor the plants type, vigor, capability to back bud, person's location/weather, time of year, etc. etc.

Exactly. ALL boxwoods readily produce adventitious buds after extreme pruning, that is why they are commonly used for hedging. If you hard prune a boxwood and it dies, you are probably doing something else wrong.


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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:35 pm

Dendrogeek wrote:Exactly. ALL boxwoods readily produce adventitious buds after extreme pruning, that is why they are commonly used for hedging. If you hard prune a boxwood and it dies, you are probably doing something else wrong.
Maybe, but I have a lot that survive well when I left greens on the end. The branches I chopped hard w/o any leaves died. There are numerous lengthy discussion about it here and I am not the only one. It seems there are regional influences/factor that comes into play.

As I said, your advise have merit but may not be advisable for others. I hate (a word I very seldom use) generalization like your "ALL" statement...because it is not true, there are always exceptions, and more often than you might know/think.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Dendrogeek on Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:41 pm



I repeat: ALL boxwoods readily produce adventitious buds. There are no exceptions.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Russell Coker on Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:44 pm

Dendrogeek wrote:
Poink88 wrote:
Your advise, while have merit, is irresponsible IMHO, because it can lead to the plant's demise. You need to factor the plants type, vigor, capability to back bud, person's location/weather, time of year, etc. etc.

Exactly. ALL boxwoods readily produce adventitious buds after extreme pruning, that is why they are commonly used for hedging. If you hard prune a boxwood and it dies, you are probably doing something else wrong.



I'd be careful about that. I had my eye on 2 old overgrown plants at the end of someone's front walk. About this time last year they cut them back really hard. One died completely and half of the other is dead. Shearing landscape boxwoods and carefully working on material like this now is one thing, but hard pruning back to sticks, especially on old plants in late summer is another.

Thanks Jim, but I'd do as Fiona suggests. TONS of good boxwood info on this forum, especially with regards for development from nursery stock. And it's free for the taking!

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Dendrogeek on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:07 pm

Late summer in Alabama is not the same as mid-summer in the NE.

"One is half dead" Alternatively, one is still alive.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Russell Coker on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:13 pm




Moral of the story: Be thoughful of the advice you give, and wary of whose you take.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Dendrogeek on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:54 pm

Russell Coker wrote:


Moral of the story: Be thoughful of the advice you give, and wary of whose you take.

Yup!

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:16 pm

Dendrogeek wrote:I repeat: ALL boxwoods readily produce adventitious buds. There are no exceptions.
You are a perfect example that there are JERKS out there. Wink LOL

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Poink88 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:18 pm

Russell Coker wrote:Moral of the story: Be thoughful of the advice you give, and wary of whose you take.
I agree. cheers

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

Post  Dendrogeek on Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:05 pm

Poink88 wrote:
You are a perfect example that there are JERKS out there. Wink LOL

When you disagree with a statement you have three choices: 1: you can read and learn, which you choose not to do; 2: you can explain rationally why you disagree, which you seem unable to do, or 3: you can offer offensive remarks, which are the last resort of an exhausted intellect.

ALL BOXWOODS READILY PRODUCE ADVENTITIOUS BUDS. This is an unequivocal incontrovertible botanical fact, and no amount of insults will ever change that.

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Re: Creating a new bonsai (Korean Boxwood) from nursery plant - where do I begin??

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