Bonsai from nursery stock

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Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  inwell on Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:08 am

hello,
i m very much new to this hobby and the forum. wish to clear few doubts.
As i read many articles that also suggest to start bonsai from nursery plant. many says that grow the nursery stock in large growing container/tub or ground for 2-3 years to get good thick trunk.
my query is...1) is it a correct/good practice to follow ?

2) when the plant is grown in ground for 2-3 yrs how do i manage/control the shape of my trunk/stem or even branches? do i wire the branches of tree still in the ground?

if nursery stock has straight growing trunk (plain/without any bend /angle) how do i change the style? as the nursery stock already has thick stem and it will get thicker in ground making impossible to bend or curve ( i tried once and it broke)

regards

inwell
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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  marcus watts on Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:18 am

hi and welcome to the forum.

the real trick with nursery material is hunting through them all until you find material that has a little bonsai potential before you start - this may be a trunk with a bit of low down movement, or some healthy low branches that can be used in the design. every species will behave and need to be treated differently though so there is no single advice that you could use for all nursery trees.

cheers Marcus

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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  Kev Bailey on Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:31 am

I agree with Marcus, but also make sure that any nursery plant has very good "surface" roots. Often they are completely neglected by the nursery, as most people will never see them. You should move the topsoil a little and check to see if there is a good radial spread. Often there isn't and this can be very difficult or even impossible to correct.

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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  JimLewis on Sun Sep 02, 2012 1:20 pm

Many of us do get material from the nursery. But we don't just go to the local plant seller and pick up just any old plant. As said earlier, the plant selected should have nice, EVEN roots, going straight out from around a flared base. The trunk (usually) should not be arrow straight. It should taper to a noticeably smaller diameter within the first foot or two above the soil (or there should be a nice branch that can be wired upright to become the new top when you chop 80-90 percent of the tree after it is home). The tree should have small leaves. Some species' leaves can reduce under pot culture, but it takes time to learn which ones do so choose small leaves to begin.

At any given trip to find a tree you probably should end up rejecting 99% of the trees you look at. Many times you will have to visit more than one nursery to find the "right" tree. Sometimes, you will waste your entire day without finding a suitable tree.

As Kev says, roots may be the MOST important feature to select from. Many beginners will select a tree that has a twisty tangle of roots thinking that unusual tangle is what we want in a bonsai. But, think of big trees you see in nature or in your local park. Look at the bases of the trees. If you can see roots at all, they usually spread evening out from the tree, something like spokes on a wheel.

It is not easy to find a good subject for bonsai at a "regular" nursery. Most of their trees will be arrow straight and their trunks will have about as much taper as an arrow. many will have been in their pots so long that their roots are a circular tangle.

So don't feel discouraged if you end the day without finding a suitable tree. And don't wast your time looking for decent bonsai material at ANY of the big box store plant departments. Very rarely is there a tree at one of these that has any potential. Check out local nurseries that are ONLY nurseries. Check out the small, mom-and-pop places. Don't be afraid to drive for some distance to find the "right" nursery.

Someone is bound to chime in at this point to say that you needn't be so picky. That you should consider what you get to be a "learning experience" so it doesn't matter whether the roots are an unfixable mess or if the trunk looks like a telephone pole with the first branch 4 feet above the soil. Most of the time, all you "learn" from a tree like that is that bonsai is too hard to do -- if not impossible to do.

I, at least, disagree -- strongly. You should start out in bonsai with a tree that has a reasonable chance of becoming a decent bonsai. And don't be afraid to spend some money. You DO get what you pay for. You will get more satisfaction out of working with one decent $50.00 or $100.00 tree than you would out of five or ten $10.00 trees. And you will get a better bonsai, too. If you don't have that kind of money to spend, wait and save until you do.

The absolute best advice I can give you is that before you look for a tree, you should look for a local bonsai club, or at least someone with experience in bonsai and take someone with you when you go out to find your first tree.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  John Quinn on Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:10 pm

Brent Walston has a good article on this topic...
http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/nurserys.htm

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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  inwell on Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:46 am

hi,

thank you all for your valuable guidance.

1.but most of the thoughts were regarding selection of nursery stock. my query remained unanswered about planting nursery stock in ground..should i do that ?

2.secondly, what will be the procedure to move the nursery plant from ground to bonsai pot..? should i directly move my ground plant to bonsai pot once it reaches the desired height and trunk size..?

3.somewhere on the net i read,Surface rooting is promoted by heavy, poorly drained, and/or shallow soils, which have low oxygen content--the roots need oxygen to grow, and so tend to form near the surface of the soil, then grow above the soil surface as they become larger. Surface roots also can become exposed by soil erosion. (ref link http://yardener.com/YardenersPlantHelper/LawnCareForYardeners/SolvingLawnProblems/SurfaceRootsUnderTrees ) so what should i look for surface roots of a nursery plant? few roots or many ? and why ?

4.as stated in one reply above , nursery plants are deeply planted and hard to get specimens with surface roots..whats the solution? re-potting the same specimen in shallower pot and not deep in soil will work.. ?
(and the nursery wont allow too deep investigation under the soil)

inwell
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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:57 pm

I've had some pretty good luck letting imature material develop in pond baskets, in the ground. There are a number of advantages especially if it is going to be a 12 step program to extricate all of the clay from around the rootball. You can let the roots run free, or give the basket a twist and trim when it's growth gets too out of control.

One huge advantage is that you don't have to be as diligent with the watering. That is also a disadvantage, because plants do like being checked in on, especially during long dry spells.

When you put the plans in the basket, give the roots a harsher repot then you normally would. It is better to take a bigger risk now while it is only nursury stock. Start your process of replacing the original soil (esp. clay) with your granular mix so that the move back to a pot will be less traumatic. I aso like to mix in a bit of the ground soil to make a transition zone between the earth and the pond basket. I mix some of my bonsai soil in with the ground when I dig the hole for the basket. If you don't want to waste precious bonsai soil, use the cheapest granular component that you can get your hands on to mix it in. Also use more organic components in your mix than you would in a plant that gets watered every day.
Unless it is really hot and dry, I usually check on my bedded plants weekly. They are looking a little stressed by the end of the summer, but the've all put on amazing growth.

As far as when to move the plants back to the pot? Certainly if the trunk has reached the correct proportions. I like the idea of rotating my plants between the ground and the pot every few years, but I haven't been that far yet.

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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:01 pm

Surface roots are a different topic that I am not qualified to mention, but there are tons of methods out there. Planting over a rock or tile.. the turniquet can be quite effective with many species.

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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  inwell on Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:57 pm

one more query regarding nursery plants..

most of the times plants come in circular/rootbound stage from nursery. when i read about rootbound conditions,articles says that rootbound means limited/less growth...

then what is the harm of rootbound state if we are making bonsai..(as we are reducing/controlling the growth to minimum)

please clear my doubt..

regards

inwell
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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

Post  MrFancyPlants on Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:40 pm

Rootbound might be good for a plant approaching it's final design, but not for plants in development, and certainly not in the condition that nurserys will likely provide. You don't want the roots crossing and running circles around each other. It will take a series of repottings in order to straighten out the roots and select the roots most pleasing to the design as well as to remove the original soil and replace it with soil more suitable to bonsai culture.

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Re: Bonsai from nursery stock

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