Bonsai Myths

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Bonsai Myths

Post  rps on Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:13 am

Having been disembarrassed of my fair share over the years [as recently as yesterday, in fact. Jay and Iris patiently made clear to me that sharp sided substrate particles have no bearing on root division], I'm toying with the idea of collecting as many as possible and assembling them into a light hearted miscellany --- complete with illustrations [if I get real ambitious and find the time] --- a sort of "Fairy Tales for Bonsai".

Heavens knows if I'll ever take any real steps with this or won't simply wake up tomorrow and consider the idea patent boosh-wah --- but for now, while it still strikes me as fun, I thought it would be diverting to solicit the membership for their, uh, "favourites".

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  JMcCoy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:51 am

Here's one: water droplets will enhance the rays of the sun like a magnifying glass, burning the leaves, so never water during the day. I think this old chestnut added to more heat-stressed damage to trees that needed a midafternoon cool-down than anything else.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  leatherback on Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:47 am

bonsai seed.
As if there is any difference in the full grown and the bonsai species.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  papymandarin on Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:24 am

the advice to NOT give feeds to freshly repotted, or young or weak trees because it would supposedly burned their fragile young roots is also a Myth. A root is functioning or not, and a root tip only lives for a few days, so the active absorbing roots of a tree are always young (meaning that we should never feed them following the myth lol). The advice on repotted tree is more related to avoiding an explosive growth and not root burn. I feed newly repotted (trees needing to grow), seedlings, cuttings, layers as all the other trees and they feel quite fine and never saw a burnt tree (usually you need to put at least 20 times or more the normal strengh of feed to achieve root burn...that's quite unlikely with draining soil that are nearly washed each time you water)

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Poink88 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:24 pm

How about these (c/o Google)...

http://www.bonsaimary.com/bonsai-myths.html
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics%20Bonsai%20Myths%20Misting.htm
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics%20Bonsai%20Continual%20trimming.htm
http://www.bonsaihowtos.com/bonsai/8-bonsai-myths-busted.html
http://thebonsaischool.zoomshare.com/8.html
http://www.bonsaihunk.us/Fallacies.html

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Dave Murphy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:37 pm

JMcCoy wrote:Here's one: water droplets will enhance the rays of the sun like a magnifying glass, burning the leaves, so never water during the day. I think this old chestnut added to more heat-stressed damage to trees that needed a midafternoon cool-down than anything else.
My all time favorite, really.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  JimLewis on Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:50 pm

There have been several articles written on this subject over the years, but it never hurts to have another.

If I were writing one (as you all might guess) I'd add Superthrive, Vitamin B, and (lately) HB101 to the top of the list.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:19 pm



Two years ago I went up into the mountains and dug up a 700 year old stunted little tree. Now I have a 702 year old BONSAI!!!

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Poink88 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:41 pm

Russell Coker wrote:Two years ago I went up into the mountains and dug up a 700 year old stunted little tree. Now I have a 702 year old BONSAI!!!
While on this topic, I have a question.

If someone collected a 20 year old tree. Planted it in a growing box for 5 years. Transferred to a training pot for another 3 years. Potted to a nice bonsai pot but still under training for 2 years. Now it is show ready...how old is this bonsai? (0, 2, 5, 10, ?)

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  JMcCoy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:50 pm

Poink88 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:41 am

Russell Coker wrote:
Two years ago I went up into the mountains and dug up a 700 year old stunted little tree. Now I have a 702 year old BONSAI!!!
While on this topic, I have a question.

If someone collected a 20 year old tree. Planted it in a growing box for 5 years. Transferred to a training pot for another 3 years. Potted to a nice bonsai pot but still under training for 2 years. Now it is show ready...how old is this bonsai? (0, 2, 5, 10, ?)

You'd have a 30 year old Bonsai in training for 10 years. I think what Russell meant is that just digging up a plant and taking it home doesn't make it a Bonsai (as some seem to think). At the most it's prebonsai stock!

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:23 pm

[quote="JMcCoy]You'd have a 30 year old Bonsai in training for 10 years. I think what Russell meant is that just digging up a plant and taking it home doesn't make it a Bonsai (as some seem to think). At the most it's prebonsai stock![/quote]

Actually, I'd say you have a 30 year old plant that's been in bonsai training for ten years. But, hey, tell them what makes you happy, and what they're stupid (ok, uneducated) enough to believe (and by that I mean my 700 year old example).

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Rick36 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:48 pm

scienceray.com>Biology>Botany Do Trees Talk? Some scientists think they do.

"I talk to the trees" (that's why they put me away).

But I'll be fine when Matron has taken me for my walk!

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Poink88 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:47 pm

Thanks guys! I got it. Interesting to know that "training" starts at collection date.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:02 pm

Poink88 wrote:Interesting to know that "training" starts at collection date.

Well, training starts when training starts... you did nothing during those 5 hypothetical years?

But let's not start splitting hairs. My point is that there are a lot of people who claim century's old bonsai when what they actually have is a a very old plant that's been grown and trained as bonsai for any number of years. The way I see it is that stunted trees are a product of their natural environment, but BONSAI is a product of man. To me, people claiming to have 600, 700 or 1000 year old bonsai are only telling part of the story, usually to impress an unsuspecting public.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  JMcCoy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:18 pm

I have another.. some say that only "tree species" of plants can be Bonsai. Although maybe this is less a myth than just personal flavor, it's said by some as gospel.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Poink88 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:26 pm

Russell Coker wrote:Well, training starts when training starts... you did nothing during those 5 hypothetical years?
All i said is interesting, not arguing the point. The impatient me do that actually but some people don't touch the tree for years (other than watering and fertilizing) to get it re-established. I guess it is training the plant to transition to potted life.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:49 pm

Actually Russell,

I didn't even know that folk made such claims.
I thought they just stated collected so many years ago, trained for so many.
Rings were counted and the tree is x years old.

As to fertilizing newly potted trees, I don't do that simply because the soil has enough tp feed a tree for about a month and as the new growth shows I start a programme of feeding at 1/3 strength, once a week.

Interesting reading thus far.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  rps on Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:15 am

JimLewis wrote:There have been several articles written on this subject over the years, but it never hurts to have another.

Jim: I don't think I'll ever get around to writing an article. There certainly is an abundance of internet material on this [thanks for the links, Dario]. Believe it or not, I'm actually thinking of a visual arts application --- something along the lines of Soviet propaganda posters, vintage 50s/60s magazine advertising or those glorious art deco travel ads from the 20s/30s. As flakey as it might sound, if I knew how to needlepoint I'd do a series of samplers for the wall.

Armed with little more than inherited wisdom, dumb luck and passable observation skills, my decades of gardening have been a pretty smooth and bountiful ride to date. The vegetables and the annuals that I work with require little understanding --- simply check the almanac and/or ask my grandmother & I'm good to go. More or less, gardening by rote.
But in recent years [since my involvement with bonsai] I find myself fascinated by the science underlying the immediate phenomenon. While I admit that I'm slow to absorb even the rudiments of the botany books I read [old dog, new trick], I keep at it & some of it's actually trickling through.
A friend of mine pointed out [bear in mind that this could be pure myth] that the proliferation of books on bonsai coincides with its rise in the west. Speaking strictly of the Japanese tradition, he cited the centuries old method of learning the art form by submitting to an apprenticeship that would prove heavy on mechanics and short on theory. Theory was more cause&effect observed, than explained.

With the myths, I suppose we can treat of those that embody a) good practices despite their mis-informed arguments, b) harmless [if wasteful/expensive] processes and c) the truly destructive. Jay accurately replaced the word "myth" with "fallacy" in a different thread; but based on my visual art ambitions above, "myth" has deeper resonance for me.

Incidentally I'm digging the border-line philosophic discussion around defining a specimen's age. At our club's small annual public show, the standard answer to the inevitable "How old is that tree?" remains "How old do YOU think it is?".


Last edited by rps on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:51 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : another signature typo + spelling error)

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Mitch Thomas on Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:24 am

A mere effort to redirect the thread.

Bonsai myths

All bonsai must be in ( bonsai soil ).

Bonsai is a 100% art form.

On your marks get set........ Go!

Mitch

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:49 am

Mitch,

I don't understand the Bonsai soil bit, want to clarify?
From the way the forum has been running, bonsai soil seems to be some form of Hydroponics[or other ponics] and my use of a simple soil mix which uses a contaminated organic, has left me outside of the world of Bonsai.

Maybe a Bonsai is only a bonsai in a suitable container?????????

As to the Bonsai Art part - as was taught to me, the difference between Art and craft is $$$, and I have noted the many who had that objective [ $$$$ ] hidden in a hand behind the back, push the Art part.
I can only keep re-quoting the Chinese, Bonsai/penjing is gardencraft.

I am not sure how many can actually contemplate their efforts for any long period of time.

As I understand it, the original Bonsai were some form of appreciation of survival under harsh conditions. ------ Beauty in expected death.
Anyhow, just to wild card, I think when Bonsai devolves into landscapes and mudmen affraid , the essence is lost.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  John Quinn on Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:02 am

I believe Mitch was relating the argument that bonsai must be in (Akadama) or (Kanuma) or (xyz) soil mix, depending on the opinion of the poster. (Please, correct me if I misunderstood.)
Then, there's the old adage about 'drainage layers'...

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Mitch Thomas on Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:06 am

Khaimarj & Jim
I get kinda burnt out on the whole " bonsai soil" term in general! IMHO the word soil should be replaced with "Medium" For most species soil is the last thing you want in a bonsai pot! On the other hand it is proven that plants will survive in almost anything that will allow the roots to penetrate and receive water and nutrients from. Hell I've grown plants in broken tempered glass. Many use black sand which volcanic cinders/ IE glass.
Now on the other hand there are some species that I use straight potting soil, in my climate zone cypress
do very good in straight potting mix. So really what I'm getting at everyone's planting medium needs to fit the specie and zone , watering ,requirements.

As far as bonsai being 100% art, IMHO I think it is closer to 95% Horticulture, 5% artistic intuition.

Mitch

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  marcus watts on Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:00 am

John Quinn wrote:
Then, there's the old adage about 'drainage layers'...

while the layer doesn't aid drainage it plays an important role in the long term conditions of the lower pot...........it just was given the wrong name (should be O2 layer). Many are early mis-translations leading to myths - pinch all juniper scale foliage and clean out all inner shoots is another - this will give you a bare hollow tree and weak growth over future years

big myth .....owning a tree in a pot means you have a show worthy item and therefore can put it into any bonsai exhibition.
bigger myth - every twig, stump and tree will become a great tree............beauty is in the eye of the owner very often, realism is in the eye of the viewer.

Soil...........it is whatever works for you, in your garden with your trees - good growers know exactly what they use and why - poor growers just jump on the bandwagon thinking they will automatically become good growers.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  Sakaki on Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:26 am

marcus watts wrote:
bigger myth - every twig, stump and tree will become a great tree............beauty is in the eye of the owner very often, realism is in the eye of the viewer.

marcus,

I think your "bigger myth" is also a reality, isnt it? Very Happy

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Re: Bonsai Myths

Post  papymandarin on Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:58 pm

another less known myth is the use of low nitrogen feed in automn, supposedly not to trigger additional growth or to avoid an explosive growth in spring (trees being able to store nitrogen). There are 2 wrong things here: 1)feed in itself cannot "make a tree grow again" in the wrong season, this is temperatures and the lenght of days that do so. 2) the absorption of P, K and a lot of other things is CONDITIONED by the availability in N, meaning if there is no N to absorb, you can put all the P and K you want the tree will not be able to take it. Better use an equilibrate feed diluted rather than a 0 N feed if you want your tree to take P and K.

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Re: Bonsai Myths

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