Poplar/Sycamore

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Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:24 am

I know these two trees have very large leaves that will never be tiny but if I want a tree with an over-all height of 2ft, will these leaves reduce to a decent size?

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  marcus watts on Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:29 am

Jake16 wrote:I know these two trees have very large leaves that will never be tiny but if I want a tree with an over-all height of 2ft, will these leaves reduce to a decent size?

if your sycamores are the same as ours then yes, very easily.

multiple defoliations each year, just like a trident, and you will reduce them - longer gaps between repotting helps too.

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  JimLewis on Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:06 pm

marcus watts wrote:
Jake16 wrote:I know these two trees have very large leaves that will never be tiny but if I want a tree with an over-all height of 2ft, will these leaves reduce to a decent size?

if your sycamores are the same as ours then yes, very easily.

multiple defoliations each year, just like a trident, and you will reduce them - longer gaps between repotting helps too.

Marcus, your "sycamores" are maples, Genus Acer. Ours are Platanus occidentalis, a potentially 200-foot tree with leaves that occasionally are large as dinner plates. They will NOT reduce to suitable size.

Again the &^%$ curse of the common name strikes!

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:40 pm

Just as a heads up this is the bark and the leaves of a sycamore. Thanks Jim I assumed that Sad I love their bark.





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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  marcus watts on Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:24 pm

thats exactly why i said 'IF' jim.

IF it is deciduous I still say skill and dedication could get a dinner plate down to a tea cup saucer..............ooohhhhh that sounds soooooooooo English haha

A 24-30" finished bonsai can easily pull off 6" leaves if you get the ramification sorted out

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:11 pm

I might just go for it, it can't hurt

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  drgonzo on Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:06 pm

Jake

I have been working with both P. tremula (common aspen or quaking aspen) and P. deltoides (Eastern Cottonwood) and have been SHOCKED how small I can get the leaves after only a few years worth of ramification. I have gotten tremula down to about 3/4 of an inch. One trick with these guys is to keep them very pot bound to help control rapid extension, and keep right up on pruning them I give mine at least 4-5 chops per season.

I believe Iris mentioned seeing a Quaking aspen at the Colorado show and being impressed at the small foliage the genus is capable of.

-Jay

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:33 pm

The 4-5 chops, is this a hard chop back to two or three sets of leaves?

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  JimLewis on Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:36 pm

The aspen and poplar aren't sycamore. I've seen some nice aspen grove bonsai. They were quite large.

But sycamore leaves can be 11-13 inches in diameter. Pretty as the bark can be, to me it wouldn't be worth the effort. You can get similar bark effects from crape myrtle -- at least some times of year.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  coh on Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:02 am

Sycamore leaves may or may not reduce very much...if they don't, you either create a large bonsai (24" or larger), or you design it for viewing during the leafless period. This leads to other questions...can you get significant ramification? Will the trunk develop that beautiful bark at a reasonable age/size, or will you have to wait 50 years or until the trunk is 8" or larger? Other unknowns...does sycamore respond well to pot culture and root pruning? Is it easy to collect, or does it develop a huge taproot that makes it tough to transplant?

If your main interest is the bark, there are other "traditional" species that you might look into...crape myrtle is one, others are Chinese quince, Stewartia, and Jaboticaba (a tropical). I've seen trident maples and also crabapples with very mottled bark, and there are undoubtedly others I'm forgetting.

Ultimately, you must decide if it's worth your time and effort (and space). If you've got plenty of room, go for it. Maybe you'll be the one to figure out how to tame the sycamore. If no one ever tries, then we'll never know. Among my pre-bonsai you'll find such large-leaved species as sweetgum, tulip poplar, and black locust. I know sweetgum can work as bonsai (though perhaps not easily), but the others are "experiments". Gotta have a few of those!

I am curious, do you have a place where you intend to try to collect a sycamore, or are you going to get some seedlings or nursery stock to start?


Last edited by coh on Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:52 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:08 am

I live out in the woods so ill try to air layer one next spring. I have a sweet gum that im trying to develop now. I know there are other trees that have this but I try to get trees that are around me because they are free.

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  drgonzo on Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:24 am

Jake16 wrote:The 4-5 chops, is this a hard chop back to two or three sets of leaves?

Back to ONE leaf after 5-6 have emerged, you'll build your branches quickly even with that hard of a prune. They grow roots with the ebullience of Willows as well and needing yearly re-pots. When you do re-pot them take only one third of the roots, not that they couldn't handle a more severe root pruning, but by taking less of the root mass you encourage and help maintain the pot bound aspect that is so important to keeping these guys in check.

In this way you will learn the true dwarfing power of your bonsai pots!

They are very rewarding trees, forgiving, fast growing and have a nice yellow fall display, mine just turned a few weeks ago, very nice.
-Jay

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Guest on Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:36 am

drgonzo wrote:
Jake16 wrote:The 4-5 chops, is this a hard chop back to two or three sets of leaves?

Back to ONE leaf after 5-6 have emerged, you'll build your branches quickly even with that hard of a prune. They grow roots with the ebullience of Willows as well and needing yearly re-pots. When you do re-pot them take only one third of the roots, not that they couldn't handle a more severe root pruning, but by taking less of the root mass you encourage and help maintain the pot bound aspect that is so important to keeping these guys in check.

In this way you will learn the true dwarfing power of your bonsai pots!

They are very rewarding trees, forgiving, fast growing and have a nice yellow fall display, mine just turned a few weeks ago, very nice.
-Jay

Hi Jay,

I have been thinking about using Populus Tremula... called the 'trembling poplar' if if should translate the dutch name back into understandable english again. Tremula allready has quite small leaves. I'm very very curious to see a picture of your Tremula, could you please enclose one, i would appreciate it. And a question for your, the Tremula also has quite long leaf stems, the reason why its called 'tremula', because of the long leaf stems the (quite hard) leaves shake in the wind and produce that typical sound. Do these longer leaf stems pose any esthetical or practical problem in creating bonsai, or do they just shorten alongside with the reduced leaf size?

Thanks
yves

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  JudyB on Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:13 pm

Jay, I would also appreciate a photo, I too am trying to create a forest scene with Aspen. The don't ramify very well for me, but then I'm still trying to grow them out, so don't do too much pruning. Do you seem to have any fungal issues with yours? Mine seem to get it every year here.

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  drgonzo on Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:55 pm

The leaves on mine dropped several weeks ago so its not much to look at but I'll see about getting a picture up. The leaf petioles also reduce along with the main leaf body.

I found I was pinching new buds as soon as they had three leaves back to one leaf and I got reasonable ramification for one seasons growth, mostly I collected the tree as an experiment to see if I could get the leaves down in size and, yeah, you sure can.

-Jay

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  coh on Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:49 pm

I would be interested in seeing photos of your poplar/cottonwood trees (Jay and anyone else working with them). I've got them (cottonwoods) growing all over my property but haven't really considered them as potential bonsai subjects...

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Rick36 on Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:54 pm

Interesting to read about sycamore (both types, and sides of the pond). I've always assumed that they are more trouble than they are worth - obviously wrongly. In my garden is a mature Acer Cappadocicum Aureum, and I've always grouped that with the sycamores. It throws suckers every year and seems to be quite fast growing at the sucker stage- usually they are dug out and discarded. It has wonderful Spring and Autumn colours. Question is - has it ever been, or could it be used for bonsai?

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  JimLewis on Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:04 pm

There are folks here who will say "have at it. Anything can be bonsai."

I suppose they're right, but I don't have the time to put so much effort into a tree that can be marginal at best. Now if I were 13 again . . . .

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Rick36 on Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:18 pm

And you are so right! I would be 14 - ah! yes - I remember it well. I'd still like to know if it has ever been done, because I have a son who is beginning to show a glimmer of interest and part of my legacy and his inheritance could be ......... (subject to tax, of course).

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:11 pm

also thit guy that lives on my road has a giant white poplar that has beautiful bark and dark green leaves, the medium mature bark is almost white, the leaves look smaller on thst tree

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  bucknbonsai on Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:19 pm

I collected a 1/2" diameter sycamore about 6 years ago easily. I then airlayered it 2 years later producing a nice nebari. It has been field grown until last year with selective hard chops. It was potted up this spring. It has back budded very well and tolerated severe root pruning. It is about 6" in diameter at the base now, and developing the great bark already. I am mainly growing it for a winter time display as one of our local clubs plans to start having winter bonsai shows within the next few years. I plan on training via the lignan technique as in the wild they tend to grow with very undulating and almost contorted appearing branches. I have not started reducing leaf size yet as I am still trying to strengthen certain branches so I cant offer any info on that yet but next year I plan on starting that process. I do know that I would go for a more organic mix or really be on top of the watering as even in a 36" concrete mixing tub it is bone dry by afternoon despite using a lot of fines and compost in my mix for this tree.

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:57 pm

thanks for the reply how is the ramification going for you

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  bucknbonsai on Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:11 pm

dont know yet, its just a big trunk with several dozen sacrifice branches on it currently. A few of the branches I am keeping were cut back once this season and branched at that point but so far I havent been training it long enough to comment on its ramification abilities. Yet to make it more to scale it will be a tree close to 48" tall is my final goal. The problem is finding pots for trees this big anymore.

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sycamore

Post  abcd on Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:16 pm

a very fast technic is to braid 7 or 8 young trees , tied tightly together , planting in the soil .
When you want a branch, you put the head of one of the trees out off the braid , at the level you want, from the base to the head off the future tree , you so created conicity and a big trunk quickly.
Photographies off my sycamore created, 15 years ago, with that technic , each roots is the trunk off young tree

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

Post  Jake16 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:46 pm

Thats very nice, do you have a picture of it in leaf?

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Re: Poplar/Sycamore

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