First bonsai help needed

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First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:22 am

I have been planing for a long time to start...and finally went to a nursery and bought some plants.
Did a bit of reding...and figured out it has to me a plant with small lief, tapering towards the top.
Did not find much at the nursery...but bought few just to start learning...next will be a trip to the bush, if I figure out what to look for.
I am a crazy plant and Koi collector. So I have good knowledge of keeping plants, but have very little ideas about bonsai.
I propagate most of the plants in my garden.
Found two ficus benjamina , one single stem and the other double...was not too sure which one to get so bought both.
Have no idea what to do with them yet. We don't have any bonsai pots for sale here, so maybe I use a plastic container of suitable shape, till I go abroad and buy a pot...but need to start some how.
What do I do now?
Do I trail/ prune them?
What style?
Do I chop the roots?
Should I transplant them into shallower plastic container?
Soil???
Please help. Need to start some how.

Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:28 am

This are the two ficus benjamina I bought. Did not find green ones...so it will have to be variegated for starters.

Untitled by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr


Untitled by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr


Untitled by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr


Untitled by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr




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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:32 am

Bought also this little cotoneaster...thought it looked not too bad for a bonsai, though I am not sure it is suitable...

Untitled by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Untitled by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr
Will this be OK?
Found also a pride of India but it is a bit too tall. Almost 60 cm.
How about that one?
Any help will be appreciated.

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First Bonsai help needed

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:49 pm

Welcome to the club. First post I've seen from Zambia. Actually, the pride of India and the cotoneaster are far more suitable for bonsai than the variegated F. benjamina. I have one of the latter. It is a houseplant. You can practice bonsai techniques on it.
There is a ton of information on cotoneaster bonsai on the Internet. It would help to find out which species you have. One sad fact I learned about cotoneaster is that if you prune it too severely in the nursery pot, it can die. Style it gradually.
Pride of India is Lagerstroemia speciosa. It is a giant crape myrtle. Crape myrtles are a bonsai favorite. You can probably cut it back gradually to bonsai size, although not terribly small. Should be interesting. There is also plenty of information on crape myrtle bonsai.
Iris

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Poink88 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:55 pm

Neli,

Welcome!!! cheers

Different plants react differently to top or root pruning. Thus, you will have to treat your ficus differently from your cotoneaster.

Most ficus can tolerate severe chop both top and bottom. Branches easily root too so if you want to save those, you can easily have a dozen ficus plants from your 2 trees. I would suggest you have a plan/goal first...what style or form of tree do you want it to be? Usually the plant will "suggest" what it want to be but you can either go with it or do differently and as you wish. How big you want your bonsai will also dictate where you should prune/chop these. Until you have these figured out, just try to keep them alive for now. As they said, horticulture first, styling second.

Check their individual light/sun exposure needs, watering, fertilizing, etc. Note that some of the highest plant killers are; over watering, drying, too much sun, not enough light, over fertilizing, etc.

Soil...ask 10 bonsai people about ideal soil mix and you will get more than a dozen different answers. What they all have in common characteristic is "well draining." Read about it and see what you have access to locally. Note that most bonsai "soil" is not really soil. Your mix will ultimately affect your watering and possibly your fertilizing regimen.

Look at pictures online and see which inspires you. Read about your trees also...there is so much written online about these trees that no one post here can come close.

BTW, I love your Koi and the garden too! thumbs up

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:30 am

bonsaisr wrote:Welcome to the club. First post I've seen from Zambia. Actually, the pride of India and the cotoneaster are far more suitable for bonsai than the variegated F. benjamina. I have one of the latter. It is a houseplant. You can practice bonsai techniques on it.
There is a ton of information on cotoneaster bonsai on the Internet. It would help to find out which species you have. One sad fact I learned about cotoneaster is that if you prune it too severely in the nursery pot, it can die. Style it gradually.
Pride of India is Lagerstroemia speciosa. It is a giant crape myrtle. Crape myrtles are a bonsai favorite. You can probably cut it back gradually to bonsai size, although not terribly small. Should be interesting. There is also plenty of information on crape myrtle bonsai.
Iris
My dearest Iris,
I am so grateful for your reply. U have saved my life...no one even knows what a bonsai is here. I tried to register at other forums and they all say I am a spammer...came here few times and did not see any replies , so I thought no one wants to help me...
So I posted on my Koi forum for help...they tried but they don't know much about bonsai...
So I went ahead and dug out one bouganvilea from my garden and tried to make it into bonsai. It is five days now...it was looking OK but today it seems it is drying...let's hope it is the shock from the transplanting and it will recover for I like it...
Also reported all the other plants I bought into pots. Trimmed some and even wired one...just for practice...
Lucky enough I did not trim the cotoneaster.
This one is just a normal one...but I brought one dwarf horizontal growing cotoneaster from London, and have some cutting from it growing.Will try that one too.
I am going to post pictures of my bonsai efforts just now. I even wired the F benjamina....with a wire I had left from building the pond...will look for copper wire later. But it seems this one worked..at list I am practicing with it. Just don't laugh at my efforts...for they are funny I am sure.
I just trimmed the bougainvillea all branches the same length, so I reduce the foliage since I reduced the roots, and planted it for now in a big pot. Have no idea how to trim it and if I should trim it at the moment more.
I have been trying to read a lot everywhere and understand how things work...but everything looks so hard to me...
I am sure I will learn later...don't also know which is the front of my bonsai...
I need to know what I should do next. Should I trim some more and where, or just grow it for now.

Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:48 am

Poink88 wrote:Neli,

Welcome!!! cheers

Different plants react differently to top or root pruning. Thus, you will have to treat your ficus differently from your cotoneaster.I will need to learn all that, and I am Sure it will take time. But I wanted to start somehow, even to learn at first.i will need lots of help till all I learned clears a bit in my head...I am getting more and more confused.

Most ficus can tolerate severe chop both top and bottom. Branches easily root too so if you want to save those, you can easily have a dozen ficus plants from your 2 trees.
I planted all the cuttings.... I would suggest you have a plan/goal first...what style or form of tree do you want it to be? The trunk of this ficus is somewhat straight and might be hard to bend...so I thought of upright formal....for my bouganvilea hard to thin of a style....never seen a style like that on the Internet so don't know what to call it.Usually the plant will "suggest" what it want to be but you can either go with it or do differently and as you wish. How big you want your bonsai will also dictate where you should prune/chop these. Until you have these figured out, just try to keep them alive for now. As they said, horticulture first, styling second.
I wanted to ask if I trim the trunk to a certain hight, will the trunk grow taller later or it will stay at the same hight, so I know how much to cut it. If it grows then I will need to cut it shorter.

Check their individual light/sun exposure needs, watering, fertilizing, etc. Note that some of the highest plant killers are; over watering, drying, too much sun, not enough light, over fertilizing, etc.
I suspect I should have put my bouganvilea in the shade at first...most of the leaves dried up...should I shift it to the shade? I know it likes sun, but maybe it is better to put a newly planted plant in the shade first for few weeks?

Soil...ask 10 bonsai people about ideal soil mix and you will get more than a dozen different answers. What they all have in common characteristic is "well draining." Read about it and see what you have access to locally. Note that most bonsai "soil" is not really soil. Your mix will ultimately affect your watering and possibly your fertilizing regimen.
I used for now just coarse river sand, since that is how I root all my cuttings, so I thought it will have a better chance to survive. I was wondering if U put any manure in bonsai pots...never saw any one mention it.but I make my own fertilizer by putting manure in a drum and adding water inside...after a month I start taking the liquid diluting it and watering the plants with it....don't have another liquid fertilizer here...only dry mixes

Look at pictures online and see which inspires you. Read about your trees also...there is so much written online about these trees that no one post here can come close.
I am reding like ten hours a day....but it is till hard to understand it all...a bit confusing.

BTW, I love your Koi and the garden too! thumbs up
Dario, thank U for the help and advise...I was almost giving up....
I am building a new pond he he he! Will be ready this week probably...it was hard labour...
So I am going to flicker to post my bonsai efforts. I am using the iPad...my dog broke my laptop...soon coming back from repares.

Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:54 am



Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr


Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr
I. It off all the thick roots...left only the tight small bawl around the trunk.

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:56 am

I planted it in sand...in a plastic pot with a hole on the side...he he he! Did not have another one...it is temp any way.


Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr


Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr

Oct 8, 2012 by MISS MUZUNGU, on Flickr
I don't know how to trim it yet...so I left the branches long and many...will trim it later better
Let it recover for now.
This is a close up of the roots.
Do you think I chopped it too much?

Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:58 am

The trunk is around 30 cm hgh, but in some places almost 15cm diameter at the bottom.i was trimming it like a ball, so that is why it is so short.
Do you think it will make good bonsai material?
Should I trim it some more and where?
What mistakes did I make?
I just hope it will not die! I covered it today with a piece of shade cloth.
It took the whole day to dig it out.


Last edited by fiona on Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:59 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  fiona on Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:52 am

It is very difficult for people to comment on how you should treat plants in your own climate, but I would have thought that the general rule of not trying to do too much to any plant at one time would apply universally.

The idea that you can dig up a plant and go straight ahead and work on it is one frequently held (and put into effect) by novices and it is quite possibly one of the major reasons why their first plants do not survive. For example, I will only be starting work on the trees that I dug up in 2011 next year now that I am happy they have made it through two growing seasons. People in the hotter climates to me (which is pretty much everywhere Very Happy ) may have much faster growth, but I'd still worry that you are trying to rush things. But maybe some of our members from your own continent could chip in here as they can speak with more certainty than I can.

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:15 am

fiona wrote:It is very difficult for people to comment on how you should treat plants in your own climate, but I would have thought that the general rule of not trying to do too much to any plant at one time would apply universally.

The idea that you can dig up a plant and go straight ahead and work on it is one frequently held (and put into effect) by novices and it is quite possibly one of the major reasons why their first plants do not survive. For example, I will only be starting work on the trees that I dug up in 2011 next year now that I am happy they have made it through two growing seasons. People in the hotter climates to me (which is pretty much everywhere Very Happy ) may have much faster growth, but I'd still worry that you are trying to rush things. But maybe some of our members from your own continent could chip in here as they can speak with more certainty than I can.
Thank U Fiona,
I think I am suffering from newbies sindrom...impatience!
The reason I trimmed the branches is that it had many very long branches ..very long, and since I reduced the roots I thought I need to reduce the brunches and leaves, so that I reduce the evaporation....was I wrong to do that?
Would I consider your advise that as I should just lieve it for now to recover and grow? And ask for advise later.

Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:41 am

My bougainvillea dried up...had no leaves, but I have now seen some small shoots on some brunches.
Good news! I thought it has died.
But I suspect some of the brunches dried up.
Any advise at this point?

Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  leatherback on Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:41 am

Just take care opf the plant. Once it has shot out green and the new branches have grown enough to show the tree as a green living bush again, you can start thinking about which diretcion to take the plant. Untill then.. just make sure it lives. Very Happy

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:13 am

leatherback wrote:Just take care opf the plant. Once it has shot out green and the new branches have grown enough to show the tree as a green living bush again, you can start thinking about which diretcion to take the plant. Untill then.. just make sure it lives. Very Happy
My bougainvillea surprisingly survived and has show plenty of new leaves and brunches.
The bougainvillea lost all its leaves. Thought it died...I see today it has new leaves....Now I dont know if I should remove some brunches or just let it grow.Will it concentrate more energy into the brunches that remain or it is better to just let it grow everywhere.
But I think some brunches died.






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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Justin_ on Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:39 pm

I would leave it to grow everywhere for a few more months. Perhaps remove any little branches that are definitely dead.

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:16 pm

Justin_ wrote:I would leave it to grow everywhere for a few more months. Perhaps remove any little branches that are definitely dead.
thanks Justin! I am itching to chop something. He he he! Too impatient.I will wait a bit just to train my self patience...then meanwhile you never know even some of the dead looking ones might shoot.
To keep my self busy, I will just dig one old dwarf pomegranate from the garden.
How long the new branches must be before I ask where to chop it again...Some of the branches are too thick, I am worried that if I dont bend them now a bit they might be too hard to bend later. Maybe to tie some of them downwards with a string to the pot?

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Xavier de Lapeyre on Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:46 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum and to the world of bonsai!

I've been looking at your fllickr pictures.
I saw your ficus http://www.flickr.com/photos/miss_muzungu/8082008461/

T-bar branches is not really ideal for bonsai.
There are some designs where you could use it, but its rare.



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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:53 pm

xtolord wrote:Hi and welcome to the forum and to the world of bonsai!

I've been looking at your fllickr pictures.
I saw your ficus http://www.flickr.com/photos/miss_muzungu/8082008461/

T-bar branches is not really ideal for bonsai.
There are some designs where you could use it, but its rare.


he he he! I dont know any better! I am a newbie. What is T bar brunches? I am guessing horizontal ones???
I was just practising wiring, and saw somewhere that ficus is hard to set when wiring...so I thought if I try to bend them horizontal...they will straighten some what later..
On a serious note I still have to idea what I am doing..but trying hard to learn.
I still need to chop some more the ficus...Just a month ago I chopped it...and it is all grown bushy now...a lot!
One day I will learn a bit more...for now I am sure I am a joke.

Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:54 pm

Can you advise?

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:14 pm

T or Bar branches that come form the same level on the tree. When a Bonsai is viewed we are leading the eye. The natural process is for the eye to start at the base of the trunk and pan up, taking in details as we go, T branches confuse the eye because we don't know whether to look left or right. In this planting I would remove the branch the comes out to the left toward the second tree/trunk.

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:48 am

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:T or Bar branches that come form the same level on the tree. When a Bonsai is viewed we are leading the eye. The natural process is for the eye to start at the base of the trunk and pan up, taking in details as we go, T branches confuse the eye because we don't know whether to look left or right. In this planting I would remove the branch the comes out to the left toward the second tree/trunk.
Thanks Billy,
I went back to page one to see which brunch to remove and realized that my pictures are missing. I was using my Ipad and uploaded from flicker...it seems I deleted the pictures.
Will post them again now.
Thanks for the advise. I believe I need to chop one of the stems much shorter...Cam U put some red lines where I am supposed to cut it...
It is asking me to subscribe???? Do I need to do that?





Neli
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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Xavier de Lapeyre on Sat Nov 24, 2012 7:13 am

Neli wrote:
xtolord wrote:Hi and welcome to the forum and to the world of bonsai!

I've been looking at your fllickr pictures.
I saw your ficus http://www.flickr.com/photos/miss_muzungu/8082008461/

T-bar branches is not really ideal for bonsai.
There are some designs where you could use it, but its rare.


he he he! I dont know any better! I am a newbie. What is T bar brunches? I am guessing horizontal ones???
I was just practising wiring, and saw somewhere that ficus is hard to set when wiring...so I thought if I try to bend them horizontal...they will straighten some what later..
On a serious note I still have to idea what I am doing..but trying hard to learn.
I still need to chop some more the ficus...Just a month ago I chopped it...and it is all grown bushy now...a lot!
One day I will learn a bit more...for now I am sure I am a joke.

For the ficus, I have found them to be tricky to unwire correctly on benjamina.
The wiring is easy and straight forward enough, but the unwiring is tricky sometimes and could result in throwing back any wiring attempt made to the original state before the wiring. I've read somewhere that when you unwire you should take care not to disturb the rubbery milky sap that might have settled and shaped the wired branch.
Everything [ or most of stuffs ] you do in bonsai has a purpose. It is best for you to understand the purpose together with the technique behind.
The wiring is meant to shape the tree [ trunk, roots, branches ] into a desired shape.
Read : http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Wiring.htm
http://www.cutebonsaitree.com/how-to-wire-bonsai.html

For the T-bar you are quite right, it is the horizontal orientation you gave the branches.
Basically bonsai is about creating a miniature tree. A miniature replica of nature.
With that goal in mind, there are several style that were codified to help people achieve specific shapes : http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_StylingForms.html
http://www.cutebonsaitree.com/style-rules.html

In most cases branches are angled, either slightly up/down or extreme angles up/down.
But it is rare to have perfect 90 deg angles with the main trunk.

For your ficus you could create a twin trunk bonsai style :

Image from : http://bonsaitonight.com/2009/08/06/ooishis-deciduous-work/
The overall look of the branches seems to be horizontal but if you look closely you'll see that they are slightly angled.

You could also replicate african style trees.
b2b9-65b388354212Larger.jpg[/img]







Not sure what you've read so far :
But here are some additional reading materials:
Basics : http://www.bonsai4me.com/bonsai_basics.html
Adv : http://www.bonsai4me.com/advanced_techniques.html
Side note: The site is currently being redesigned, so there might be several articles where the menus don't work for now. So just go back to the two links I gave if you lost yourself.

Also specifically on ficus bonsai I would strongly recommend Master Meislik site : http://www.bonsaihunk.us/
Becareful with the information. He is living in a temperate climate, so his ficus are indoors.
You are in a tropical context [ I assume ] so don't go and add your trees indoors! In a tropical context there is no need for indoor bonsai.

http://www.cutebonsaitree.com/branch-rules.html
http://www.cutebonsaitree.com/intro-to-bonsai-rules.html

[img]http://preview.turbosquid.com/Preview/Content_2009_08_13__00_53_15/6150-wo124-umbrella-thorn-acacia-tree-s3.jpg6750cf21-1ed9-4ada-

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Neli on Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:28 am

Thanks a million!
Today and tomorrow, I am just going to read...I have studied some articles here and there...but still in confusion.
I see in your pictures there no brunches between the two leaders????So I guess that is what Billy means.
Before I have finished reading, I have finally figured one way of making a leader tapper...to trem it and make a new leader repeatedly, while giving it a small angle at the same time.
Can I do that with my benjamina? Should I chop the longer FB 10cm high and the shorter one around 6cm, so I can make a new leader, and make it tapper?

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Re: First bonsai help needed

Post  Xavier de Lapeyre on Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:53 am

If you're saying something like this, then yes you could do it :


Sorry for the quick virtual Sad



Last edited by xtolord on Sat Nov 24, 2012 10:01 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : bad bbc code)

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Re: First bonsai help needed

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