Questions on the basics... (for Serissa foetida and Portulacaria afra)

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Questions on the basics... (for Serissa foetida and Portulacaria afra)

Post  Adam_San on Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:46 pm

I've been studying up on some of the basic techniques for bonsai, and I have a bunch of questions. I haven't found a local bonsai club and so I thought I would ask you all. Specific advice for my two plants would be wonderful. I have a Serissa Foetida and a very young Portulacaria Afra.

For the sake of not repeating myself, it should be said that I have already been asking around for specific advice on this forum. I hope it does not come across as an annoyance. However, I feel that there are still so many holes in my comprehension of bonsai care...

So, my questions are as follows:

During the growing season, should I prune each week or allow the plant to grow for an extended amount of time? For both my Serissa and my P. Afra in particular, how should I prune them? I understand the basics of pruning for deciduous and evergreen. But Serissa is a semi-evergreen and Portulacaria is a succulent. For example, when pinching out the leaves on my Portulacaria, what does that do? Does a new shoot grow there? Where and when should I be doing this? For my Serissa, do I need to worry about branch dieback (and leave 1/2 in of branch to account for that)?

Can you give some specific advice for these two plants in how to get small leaves - should I ever defoliate either of them? I've heard that after defoliating a deciduous (of course, never a coniferous) tree, you then pinch back the leaves from the new shoot to maintain an even distribution of foliage. This is a mystery to me. Can someone explain this?

Any other pointers that come to mind would be very much welcome, such as on general technique on pruning, pinching out, wiring, or repotting.


Last edited by Adam_San on Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:15 am; edited 4 times in total

Adam_San
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Re: Questions on the basics... (for Serissa foetida and Portulacaria afra)

Post  Just Mike on Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:39 am

dont take this the wrong way please, but you are seriously over-thinking and making it harder than it needs to be...there is nothing mystical or magical about bonsai...its really nothing more than horticultural principles blended with artistic principles and a healthy dose of OCD mixed in...so, if you want to learn how to grow a japanese black pine "bonsai", then learn how to grow, maintain, and care for japanese black pine...this is true for anything in bonsai...

think of it like this...to become a sushi chef, you have to spend YEARS cleaning, preparing tea, and learning how to make the rice before you are even allowed to handle the fish...

its the same in bonsai...everyone wants to skip straight to cutting fancy slices of fish, only to find out they dont know how to make rice...

there are plenty of species guides on the net, but really, my best advice would be to learn how to grow and maintain before you worry about pruning and defoliting and leaf reduction...learn as much about horticutural principles as you can...and then learn some more lol. this base of knowledge will help you more in the future than anything else...

i know that isnt the answer you wanted to hear, but it was probably the one you needed to hear...

here are a couple guides for the species you are working with...

http://ofbonsai.org/species-specific/tropical/portulacaria-afra
http://www.phoenixbonsai.com/Portulacaria.html

http://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Serissa.html
http://www.phoenixbonsai.com/PPB/Serissa.html

also, i would reccomend google image results for "bonsai (species name)"...looking at and studying the images (in person is better of course) is invaluable...its really hard to get anywhere if you have no idea where you are supposed to be going...

Just Mike
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Re: Questions on the basics... (for Serissa foetida and Portulacaria afra)

Post  Andre Beaurain on Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:28 pm

Defoliating Portulacaria afra wont make the leaves smaller, it will only thicken up the stems.

When defoliating afra, put the leaves in a salad!!!

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Re: Questions on the basics... (for Serissa foetida and Portulacaria afra)

Post  Just Mike on Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:49 am

Andre Beaurain wrote:Defoliating Portulacaria afra wont make the leaves smaller, it will only thicken up the stems.

When defoliating afra, put the leaves in a salad!!!

this is interesting...so can defoliation be used as a way to thicken trunks and branches on p. afra in developement?

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Re: Questions on the basics... (for Serissa foetida and Portulacaria afra)

Post  Andre Beaurain on Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:17 am

I think It can be used to thicken up the trunks in All bonsai, Except conifers, ( But it needs to be done in the height of the growing season) but I'm not he Bonsai expert here, I only know my plants. Constand nipping back will reduce leave size.

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Re: Questions on the basics... (for Serissa foetida and Portulacaria afra)

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