Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

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Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:12 pm

I've got this 30+ year old Camellia that my wife wants gone. I'd like to turn it into a Bonsai, but I don't know how to make one branch out lower. Its pretty much been like this (other than being trimmed height wise) for the last 12 years (that I know of). Does anybody know how I can get it to branch out lower, or should I put it in a big pot and have a big Bonsai?

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:09 pm

I think I would chop it about where the "2 in dia" yellow line is on the right hand  side and then just below the first large crotch on the left hand side.  

Then, in January or February I'd dig it up and put it in a pot.

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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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chopping the trunk

Post  greendragonbonsai on Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:59 pm

Jims approach sounds good to me but I would go somewhat lower on the left hand trunk as the branch in that area lacks taper. Maybe about the middle of that section would be better.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  Ashiod on Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:25 am

I'm not very experienced, but if you were to chop the left trunk lower than what Jim suggests, wouldn't you run into an issue of having two trunks or close to equal height? Wouldn't this make it a bit imbalanced? That said, the right trunk could always be removed or carved into a smaller size in the future if you took this route. The left trunk does seem to bulge out a bit about 4 inches below that first large crotch on the left, but I think this could easily be hidden through some carving or just by being covered with foliage.

Speaking with my very limited ability again, you could remove the right hand branch and chop the left trunk right below that bulge. I think the trunk flows pretty well into that left branch and would look decent given some time to heal and a bit of work on the massive scar that the branch removal would leave.
Feel free to correct me if my ideas are a bit off. I'm still learning, so being steered in the right direction is nice.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  Ryan on Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:33 am

Ashiod wrote:I'm not very experienced, but if you were to chop the left trunk lower than what Jim suggests, wouldn't you run into an issue of having two trunks or close to equal height?  Wouldn't this make it a bit imbalanced?  That said, the right trunk could always be removed or carved into a smaller size in the future if you took this route.  The left trunk does seem to bulge out a bit about 4 inches below that first large crotch on the left, but I think this could easily be hidden through some carving or just by being covered with foliage.

I assume Jim suggested he chop there so that there would still be some foliage on the tree. If he chopped lower than that, there would be no foliage left on the tree anywhere.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  Ashiod on Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:44 am

Ryan wrote:
I assume Jim suggested he chop there so that there would still be some foliage on the tree. If he chopped lower than that, there would be no foliage left on the tree anywhere.

Sorry, I assumed the first large crotch on the left meant the "Y" split in the left trunk around the 2 1/4" indicator, which wouldn't have left any foliage.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  Brian Van Fleet on Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:32 pm

JimLewis wrote:I think I would chop it about where the "2 in dia" yellow line is on the right hand  side and then just below the first large crotch on the left hand side.  

Then, in January or February I'd dig it up and put it in a pot.

Agreed, though I'd try to keep it in the ground somewhere else to bud back after you do chop it...3-4 years ago, I caught my neighbor's yard crew whacking down her very large camellias and moved the stumps to my collecting bed. They did pop back from bare wood, though very coarsely. Over time, 2 gave up but the largest is still growing. I was surprised at how slow they grow...both roots and top.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  JimLewis on Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:20 pm

Sorry, I assumed the first large crotch on the left meant the "Y" split in the left trunk around the 2 1/4" indicator, which wouldn't have left any foliage.

You assumed correctly.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:29 am

Sorry I haven't replied to this yet....... Ashiod, I assumed that's where Jim meant too, and that's what I did. I don't know how long it takes to sprout, but it has done nothing yet. I understand they are slow growers.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  leatherback on Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:23 pm

Just be patient I suppose. Very Happy

I had a (tiny) olive tree which I wanted to get foliage on the lower tunk, and did as you did now. Just beheading the plant. It has taken spring and most of summer to show any life, but last week I finally noticed a few green buds breaking through the bark. So some species take a *really* long time.

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30+ year old Camellia help.....

Post  tbarkley on Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:01 pm

Leatherback.....thanks for the feed back. It's not going anywhere, it will stay right where it is. Its been there for a long, long time, I can't even imagine the root system it has on it. It doesn't get any direct sun. Its right between the north side of the house and a huge pecan tree.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  berobinson82 on Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:02 pm

I actually dug one this year in early spring. I left the most minimal amount of foliage on top and it promptly died off. It took almost 4months and then last week it started to push new buds at the top and down the trunk. Slow movers indeed!

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:22 am

On Wed. July 31, Jim Lewis made his suggestion on how I should chop this Camelia. I did what he suggested that day. These things are slow growers (as several have told me). But on Saturday, Aug 24 I finally noticed it was doing something besides taking up ground space. There are 2 new buds, now just waiting till Nov or Dec to pot it (like Jim said). Thanks for the info Jim! I'll let them grow and see what else pops out. I don't like the placement of the lower one, but it can stay for a while to encourage others to grow.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  Leo Schordje on Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:21 am

Excellent.
I wager you will get a few more buds popping in the next few weeks. And likely even more new buds will pop over the next year or so. Jim gave you a good plan. In time this can become an impressive tree.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  berobinson82 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:01 pm

I dug a camellia this spring and left just a few leaves per some suggestions and the same thing happened; everything died off within a few weeks. It was left on the bench for 1.5 months before it started to push for me but now the buds are plentiful and the shoots are still growing well. They DO seem to be able to heal scars completely, though I'm sure it takes a good long while. Please keep us updated!

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  Brian Van Fleet on Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:40 am

Kathy Shaner advised me to trim new shoots back regularly to improve density. I've noticed they're lazy, and tend to put energy into a just few shoots, until I started trimming them back regularly...like 5 nodes back to 1-2, and finally after 3-4 years, the one I have left is starting to act like it wants to become a bonsai.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:08 pm

There are at least 10 new shoots starting. I'm going to try to collect it probably in December, I want to give the shoots as much time as possible. (Jim Lewis said November or December) I have heard that there is something special about the box you should put it in when it is collected. What is that? Do I make the box to be a tight fit? Do I make it with plenty of drainage? Is there any place that I can get some guidance of what is needed when building a box? I plan on putting it in 100% Diatomaceous Earth when I collect it. Any concerns? Question

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  JimLewis on Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:33 pm

I had no idea it would take this long to resprout, so I think I might wait on digging it up until you have quite a lot of new growth. You will be cutting a lot of root on something this big. That will be a much worse shock than topping it.

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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: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:06 pm

Okie Dokie Jim Smile , for a long time there, I didn't know if it would ever do anything. I don't mind waiting till spring or later. I want to do what ever is best for this tree. Folks said they were slow growers, IS IT EVER! Now I just need to get some info about building a box. Any suggestions?

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  JimLewis on Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:26 pm

4 1" x 8" x anywhere from 2 to 4 feet long boards. Treated is fine. Either shade cloth or plywood with 6-8 1-inch holes drilled in it for the bottom. Nothing special about it. Screw it all together with brass or aluminum screws.

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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: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:02 pm

These pics were taken today 9/12/2013. Lots of new starts.




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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  Leo Schordje on Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:05 pm

Looking better. Lots of new sprouts. I think you are far enough south that there will be a chance they will have time to mature and harden off before freezing weather sets in.

I definitely agree with Jim. Don't dig it up until Spring, or even later. Give the sprouts time to grow and harden off. It is the branches with leaves that will create the sugars needed to grow new roots. Wait to dig up the trunk until after you have a good amount of foliage to support the creation of new roots. Spring 2014 will be a better time than anytime this year. You could even wait until spring 2015, but then there is the danger you might like the way it looks as a landscape shrub again, and decide it will have to stay there until you move from the house. Very Happy 

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:38 pm

Leo,
No chance of me liking it better as a landscape shrub again. I want to Bonsai everything (if my dog would hold still long enough......Smile ).
I will probably wait till late spring 2014 to collect it.
I trimmed it back to see how it would look as a Bonsai. that's how I got it as one. My wife didn't like it trimmed to look like a tree, so she wanted to get rid of it.
I said I'll make a real Bonsai out of it instead.

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  BWise on Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:10 am

Jim's original post to dig in Jan/Feb is the correct time for NC - anytime "before" Spring flush. If you wait until "late Spring" when it's covered with tender new growth, it will wilt and die back as one of the earlier posts described (Won't kill the tree, but you will be flagged for a false start!). Late Spring is probably right for Leo in N. IL. His suggestion to dig it next year is a great one - you could root prune it this Winter, let it flush for a year and then dig. (Might be better to stay married and move it this year though.) They move well, so you shouldn't have a problem.

When you do dig, keep in mind the roots of a tree in the landscape can be most anywhere due to cultural conditions, so start wide until you get a feel for where they are. 10" root ball per inch of dia is the rule of thumb for field grown nursery stock and while you won't need a root ball nearly that large, I would start 24" out and work my way in. It may have a nice dense uniform root system like you would find in a nursery tree, but it could also be completely one-sided. I would think a 24" root ball (digging 12" out) would be plenty, but if you are not finding roots on one side, you'll want to expand the diameter on the other side. Should there be few lateral roots on any side, go as deep as you can and maybe consider a 15 gal pot instead of a box for the first year. Obviously, the more roots you harvest, the faster the recovery.




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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

Post  tbarkley on Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:41 am

BWise,
Thanks for the reply, depending on the temps, I will try to dig in mid-late Feb, and I'm fine with going to a 15 gal pot first if needed. I can just go pick up a nursery pot locally. When you say "I could just root prune it this winter",  do you mean just cut the main roots say 12" out all around but not dig it up? (I'm not sure what you mean.)
Thanks for your help,

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Re: Need some honest advice about a 30+ year old Camellia

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