Birch only 4yo

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Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:41 pm

I know its a bit early to show this, but I didnt see many birches here yet, and i wanted to show what 4years development has done to my seedling of 2008 when it was still in the pavement at my front door of our previous home, not more than 2 or 3 inches tall. It's a Betula Pendula by the way.

I planted it out in fall 2008 in our new home's garden, and allready put it in a training pot in spring 2011.

Its no where near ready yet...it can be called a prebonsai maybe, its developing its primary branches, i'm thickening the top, and some of the lower branches allready some secundary growth.

I especially like the base of the trunk and roots, and the slight curves in the upright trunk.

I'm aiming for a more natural style.




















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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  drgonzo on Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:27 pm

Wanted to share this with you;

This Birch (Betula nigra) is about 12 years old and only ONE year in training. Earlier this spring it was pruned back from 7 feet tall to only 18 inches and one inch branch stubs and has since had two further prunings...The trunk at the nebari is 2 3/4 inches thick.. what you see here is only one seasons growth!

Birch is such a pleasure to work with that I went and picked up a 'Shilo Splash' variegated birch two weeks ago and did the same thing to it, cut it all back to branch stubs...it too is budding profusely and the new growth emerges tomato red..




Best
-Jay

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  heryfigueroa on Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:00 am

What kind of soil are you using

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Jake16 on Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:05 am

Nice birch Smile I have been really wanting to get a birch and this has now given me birch fever. haha

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Curtis on Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:46 am

This gives me alot of hope. This summer I found some cow munched birch and they are perfect for bonsai. I always heard that birch made horrible bonsai. Maybe something to do the root? scratch I hadn't really looked into it any further.

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  abcd on Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:15 am

On birch trees, branches die if we don't cut the buds at the base of the spring branch, and the life span of this species in pot is short, 10 12 years.
In Japan, is no longer cultivated these trees because of this problem.

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  yamasuri on Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:03 am

yves71277 this looks lovely, nice progression. In my colection is always birch ....non other tree has such bark colour

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:37 am

heryfigueroa wrote:What kind of soil are you using
1st year in pot i used a 100% (natural type) zeolite, more specifically clinoptilolite 95% pure (there is no 100% pure). The 95% is the purest you'll find, thats marketed.

2nd year (this year) I used a mix of mainly the same type of zeolite, mixed with 2 handfull of dried chicken-cow fertilizer (grain), and a little coco peat (maybe 5 to 10%).

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:51 am

Curtis wrote:This gives me alot of hope. This summer I found some cow munched birch and they are perfect for bonsai. I always heard that birch made horrible bonsai. Maybe something to do the root? scratch I hadn't really looked into it any further.

the birch-fear-myth again ;-)
Well it IS true that birch normally dont grow to very high ages, a regular lifespan of a birch (lets say Betula Pendula, like mine) is about 50 to 80 tops. That is in nature. In pot, it hasnt been documented properly offcourse Wink

Its not so much a rooting problem when it comes to keeping em as bonsai. Use a good soil, repot regularly, and you'll have no big problems with rooting.

The 'fear' is when it comes to pruning and (natural) die back of branches. In my opinion, you must grow it in a way that a birch still has 'enough' room to grow. Dont push it into a superstyled tree too much, dont clip the twigs and shoots like you clip your nails every week. Let it grow, and then prune back the healthy strong shoots, once or twice. Forcing and weakening it too much, will surely add to that famous die back.
Quite interesting this one, but I suspect a birch has also more change of living a longer life if you allow that strong growht, in a more natural shape. Its my feeling that a birch doesnt like being 'dressed up' too much.

Birches love to grow, if you constantly tell it not to do so and style it too 'unnaturally', you'll have very big troubles.

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  abcd on Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:52 pm

On birch trees, branches die if we don't cut the buds at the base of the spring branch

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  drgonzo on Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:38 pm

abcd wrote:On birch trees, branches die if we don't cut the buds at the base of the spring branch

As you have felt the need to repeat this advice, would you mind being more specific?

Do you mean that as the lowest buds on any branch begin to extend we should remove them. Or is this only the lowest buds extending on the NEW growth?

Is this done because the lowest buds will rob energy from the rest of the branch as it grows out?

I appreciate your help.
-Jay

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:37 pm

abcd wrote:On birch trees, branches die if we don't cut the buds at the base of the spring branch, and the life span of this species in pot is short, 10 12 years.
In Japan, is no longer cultivated these trees because of this problem.

sorry, it has never been documented that birches in pot only live 12 years. I would recommend some serious researching before making a statement like that ;-)

And in japan... well, I'm in europe, here the betula pendula is a native species, who cares about what they do in japan (roughly said). I can image it to be true though, if you're talking about the nurseries that specialise in mass-production...than yes, maybe birch is not a good choice for standard mass cultivation. There's too much risk of loss of income ;-)

I would like to refer to what i said earlier, despite of what you've heard, birches are not the easiest if you want to 'bonsai' it too much, but if you know a few things about the growing habits of birches, well you just use that when you one as a bonsai. Lets see how fast mine dies shall we, it has 8 years max to go. And since its in pot, no die back because of not removing buds

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:51 pm

abcd wrote:On birch trees, branches die if we don't cut the buds at the base of the spring branch, and the life span of this species in pot is short, 10 12 years.
In Japan, is no longer cultivated these trees because of this problem.

and what about this birch, that i inherited from a friend, and is said to come from a guy who had it for about 25 years IN POT? If you see the base that was hidden under the soil (i repotted it and went for a complete new design), one can easily believe it to be that long in pot. THe wide 'bulb' is due to the continues build up of shoots from the base/roots, sometimes typical with older ones. It was neglected for many many many years, and still it hadnt suffered major branch dieback. The ones that are gone now is only due to me redesigning it Very Happy I have a plan in my head, but still a long way to go.

I threadgrafted it a few weeks ago to.




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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  marcus watts on Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:19 pm

the tree is a short lived species but they grow and develop quickly so plenty is learnt before they die off.

birch is a colonising tree that can grow in very poor soil - it then dies relatively quickly and rots very quickly - making good fertile soil on ground that previosly had poor soil. This sets the ground up for longer lived trees and balanced vegetation to follow.

I know you can keep them going 20 years, maybe even 30 so well worth keeping as a bonsai really, when dealing with native species it is no good saying "the japanese dont use them" as they have a culture of making bonsai masterpieces that may last centuries - they also dont rate arakawa maples but many people enjoy having one as a bonsai...

i have a silver birch that i put in the bullet proof category......cut off loads and it always bounces back.

cheers Marcus


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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  abcd on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:42 pm

Yes marcus, the lowest buds will rob energy from the rest of the branch if you don't cut them in spring.
it's my experience in France during 15 years .

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:52 am

abcd wrote:Yes marcus, the lowest buds will rob energy from the rest of the branch if you don't cut them in spring.
it's my experience in France during 15 years .

are you not referring simply to normal bonsai practices, whether it is birch or not?...All buds that are not useful or unwanted are removed anyway, especially at the places you refer too. But i havent seen any of that energy begin robbed, or any die back as a result of this.

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  coh on Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:35 pm

Yves,

I don't know anything about the longevity of birch bonsai, but I do know that seeing your tree makes me want to add one to my collection! It's developing beautifully, and that trunk is really nice. Please keep us posted.

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Kevin Yates on Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:51 pm

I know Walter Pall has some collected in 94, which look in good health, even with all the hollows, and unsealed cuts. I was surprised too when a searched to see what the oldest recorded birch were in my area (Ontario, Canada) and it came up between 250-300, and possibly 600 years old factoring the rot in the center of the tree. So now I'm wondering why it has this reputation of a short lived bonsai?

On a side note, it was amazing to find out that it is also a clonal tree, and the DNA on the roots can be as old as 10,000 years!

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birch

Post  abcd on Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:26 am

In pot, the life conditions are not the same that in the nature .
In pot, trees are growing in enclosed conditions, roots can not grow in length to get the nutriments , water , etc at great distances , life of the tree is completely dependent on human ( soil, water, fertilizer) , to compare culture in pot and life conditions in the nature is a mistake.

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:56 am

abcd wrote:In pot, the life conditions are not the same that in the nature .
In pot, trees are growing in enclosed conditions, roots can not grow in length to get the nutriments , water , etc at great distances , life of the tree is completely dependent on human ( soil, water, fertilizer) , to compare culture in pot and life conditions in the nature is a mistake.

well i rest my case because its really all chinese to me, clearly ;-) Very Happy

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  marcus watts on Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:03 pm

ignoring the completley unkown and unrelated estimated age of a wild tree who has kept birch a long time as a bonsai?

i have a 4 year old shohin silver birch to get the ball rolling (4 yr in little pot - collected as 1" thick wildling). I know of a 3" dia collected silver birch that was in the local bonsai nursery for about 15 years - gone now though - either dead or sold??

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Guest on Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:03 pm

marcus watts wrote:ignoring the completley unkown and unrelated estimated age of a wild tree who has kept birch a long time as a bonsai?

i have a 4 year old shohin silver birch to get the ball rolling (4 yr in little pot - collected as 1" thick wildling). I know of a 3" dia collected silver birch that was in the local bonsai nursery for about 15 years - gone now though - either dead or sold??

could we call it a rest please, I posted this to get replies on the styling, progression so far. I know this discussion will otherwise end in yes and no... all has been said i guess, and to pick in on previous posts..its clear that some answers show limited experience, and not at all based on experiences of others too, and of info you find everywhere (bonsai books, bonsai of famous artists, google-bonsai...etc).

maybe start a new post, but i wont pick in on it anymore Very Happy

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Re: Birch only 4yo

Post  Andrew Legg on Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:44 pm

Yves,

I think you are doing a fine job on styling the tree. It looks a bit formal/stylised now, but I think I can see it becoming a very nice natural tree in the future. Nice work. There is a birch forest on a property near my home and I think I must go and try to collect some small material.

Regards,

Andrew

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update

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:24 pm

Just an update of today 14-11-2012.

Pruned back the new shoots of this year, leaving more than enough for a good start next year, building it up.
In 2014 or 2015 it will most likely need to be pruned back harder than a regular pruning, to get some more taper in branches, then partially build up again. But its a birch, they are elegant thin trees in nature so i'm not going for a super taper.

The top, i have options, continue as is and see what i get with new growth... or prune back hard in 2014 or 2015 (see virtual, only indicating what branch i would use, wire it and let it grow higher a bit, not keep it a low parasol tree).




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Birch only 4yo

Post  Neil Brough on Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:34 am

Beaut trees i had Birch seedlings all over my back yard scooped them up and root pruned and reduced them and they are in the ground developing nicely for a grove setting. Great growth rates bark and healing qualities. Silver birches classified as a short lived tree in nature 100 years or there abouts. Neil

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Re: Birch only 4yo

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