A Douglas Fir of mine.

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A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  Pepsis on Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:46 pm

Hi all! Almost a year has passed and the tree has done very nice through the summer in its training tray. Yes i decided to leave it there, since it was doing fine. Well, this years growth has gotten all dark green now, and there are many new buds for the next year. Their number is greatest on the branches nearing the top of the tree. I want to remove some of them(or all of them? Rolling Eyes ), in order to give better chance of lover buds do grow, since the tree has very poor quality of lower branches. It's a bit diamond shaped, i don't like that at all.

I watched some of the videos of Ryan Neil explaining how to regulate growth on pines, but i can't find any info on how to regulate buds on a fir. Also i found some info online, about firs rebud later in the season, after their primary buds being removed, but taking into account how long it took for new growth on my tree to become mature, it just doesn't seem logical to me that this will occur if i remove all of the buds. Also i am concerned about needles that if i remove buds, will they survive?

As i said, branches that are lowest, and weakest have very delicate and a few of buds. I would like to make these look stronger and better. What should i do. Should i pinch this years growth, so some needles remain, and remove all or just some of the upper buds. Should i remove only buds, and in what measure? I have all these ideas, but the only thing i'm sure of is that i don't want to kill the tree. Smile

Here are some pics.
The whole tree (it is about 1.3 meters high; maybe something should be done with that too.)


Top of one of the middle branches, with it's new growth, and a bud, which i would like to remove


New bud on very trunk. This gives me hope that if loose some of those small low branches, new ones will appear the after next...


Lower part of the trunk, with already mentioned tiny new branches. i should say that tree had needles all over the trunk, but the fell off due to scorching heat during summer

and up close


Nice nebari will develop in a few years, hopefully.


And the very top. Well, next years buds are numerous here. I would like to stop at this height, but what to do. Do i cut the top, and make some of the lower branches a new top?


Thank you for all your suggestions, critiques, and help in advance.


Last edited by Pepsis on Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:52 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added some pics in the middle.)

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NO ONE?!

Post  Pepsis on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:35 pm

REally?! no one has nothing to say? I know it is a young tree, and it can't even be considered bonsai, but, young trees have to be trained too, right. Those Japanese guys start training even younger trees than this. Well theirs in some cases can't even be considered trees yet.

Is it because of mine training container? Smile


Last edited by Pepsis on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:37 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : ...)

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  JimLewis on Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:10 pm

Well, I don't have any Douglas Fir and have never worked on one, but I think I can say there's not much you can do with this tree now. It really should be topped and planted in the ground for several years to allow the trunk to develop some character. It will never grow into anything if left in that small pot.

Sorry that I can say nothing else. The Japanese may work on trees that are this young, but they will have been grown in the ground first.

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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: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  0soyoung on Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:43 pm

I suggest that you try a couple  of things. First, air-layer the top of this tree. I think you will inevitably want to reduce its height, so you really have nothing to loose, but a little time. But this will get you on a course of learning what you want to learn.

In making the air layer you have the option of tying a wire tourniquet to induce some basal flare or of going directly to girdling (removing a ring of bark) before you apply rooting harmone. Using the tourniquet will likely extend the time to have a new tree by one growing season. If you are impatient, skip the tourniquet and go directly to girdling sometime this coming spring. With the usual method one wraps plastic over damp sphagnum packed over the girdle, but I suggest that you cut a pot, wrap it around the tree and fill with bonsai medium instead - you will get better root growth. You will just always water this pot when you water the main pot. Screws underneith can support the pot or it can be supported by wires attached to the tree above.

Immediately after you've made the gidle, things lower down on the tree will be just like you had pruned away the top - more buds will pop. This effect will be more dramatic if you wait until after the first flush to make the girdle. At about this same time, I suggest that you prune back the branches on the lower part of the tree. Douglas firs that are grown to be Christmas trees are literally sheared about this time - it induces 'back budding' increasing the density of the foliage by ramification as well as inducing buds that can become new branches from the trunk. You should be able to see noticeable differences between the top (above the girdle) and bottom of the tree in a little more than one season.

Something you can do now is to wire the trunk and bend it a bit, trying to make it interesting to your eye. I think it might be interesting to bend only what will be the trunk above or below the air-layer. At any rate one needs to do a bit of planning. Wire cannot be too close to where the air-layer gidle will go. If the bottom is bent, the chosen site for the air-layer might not be vertical any more which would dictate that the conventional plastic-wrapped sphagnum method must be used.

If any of this is interesting, you might also find it interesting to learn about a simple picture of how trees work and why these things happen and/or can be done. There is a whole series of articles at evergreengardenworks.com that are good reads and explain why layering and pruning do what the do, among other things. This, along with planning for this coming spring, is something you can do now - no waiting required.

Pick and choose or ignore it all.

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  Pepsis on Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:32 pm

0soyoung wrote:I suggest that you try a couple  of things. First, air-layer the top of this tree. I think you will inevitably want to reduce its height, so you really have nothing to loose, but a little time. But this will get you on a course of learning what you want to learn.

In making the air layer you have the option of tying a wire tourniquet to induce some basal flare or of going directly to girdling (removing a ring of bark) before you apply rooting harmone. Using the tourniquet will likely extend the time to have a new tree by one growing season. If you are impatient, skip the tourniquet and go directly to girdling sometime this coming spring. With the usual method one wraps plastic over damp sphagnum packed over the girdle, but I suggest that you cut a pot, wrap it around the tree and fill with bonsai medium instead - you will get better root growth. You will just always water this pot when you water the main pot. Screws underneith can support the pot or it can be supported by wires attached to the tree above.

Immediately after you've made the gidle, things lower down on the tree will be just like you had pruned away the top - more buds will pop. This effect will be more dramatic if you wait until after the first flush to make the girdle. At about this same time, I suggest that you prune back the branches on the lower part of the tree. Douglas firs that are grown to be Christmas trees are literally sheared about this time - it induces 'back budding' increasing the density of the foliage by ramification as well as inducing buds that can become new branches from the trunk. You should be able to see noticeable differences between the top (above the girdle) and bottom of the tree in a little more than one season.

Something you can do now is to wire the trunk and bend it a bit, trying to make it interesting to your eye. I think it might be interesting to bend only what will be the trunk above or below the air-layer. At any rate one needs to do a bit of planning. Wire cannot be too close to where the air-layer gidle will go. If the bottom is bent, the chosen site for the air-layer might not be vertical any more which would dictate that the conventional plastic-wrapped sphagnum method must be used.

If any of this is interesting, you might also find it interesting to learn about a simple picture of how trees work and why these things happen and/or can be done. There is a whole series of articles at evergreengardenworks.com that are good reads and explain why layering and pruning do what the do, among other things. This, along with planning for this coming spring, is something you can do now - no waiting required.

Pick and choose or ignore it all.

I did think about almost everything you said. I decided not to mention it all in my post simply because i don't want to look like i ask for some help and yet to seem that i do know what am i doing, because i truly don't. Or at least i am not sure. Definitely yes, i want it to be lower. This is too high in my opinion. I was just not sure that it will make it to back bud(this is the term i was looking for). I was more guessing. What i said that i heard from Ryan about pines, made me think same could happen for DF, but like i said, i was not 100% sure. So i just mentioned that i was thinking about losing this years buds.

The only problem about air layering is that in Serbia i can't just go out and buy growth hormone!;( There aren't any in agricultural stores. We can buy only some sort of nitrogen-fixation bacteria based solutions, that are allegedly good at helping root growth jupm start. Only large gardens can afford growth hormones and they have to import larger quantities. Is there any other, sort of home made substitute for this. I heard from some smaller nurseries around here that some sort of tea made from red willow bark is good to jump start roots growth. I am afraid that if i put it only in supstrate it will die out.

I already pruned it a bit, and i removed some of the buds which were on top of the branches, since they were numerous. Tree is strong, and i think it will be able to support all of this work just fine, but for just in case, if layering is to be introduced, i would prefer to plant it in the ground. If for nothing, for better stability, since winds have gone crazy recently.

Many many thanks for advices. You confirmed what i was just guessing. I know biologically why trees back bud when you prune them or you do this particular grafting technique, but none the less i will read what you gave me this link for, anyway. There is always something new to learn :)Once again thank you.

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  0soyoung on Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:43 pm

Pepsis wrote:The only problem about air layering is that in Serbia i can't just go out and buy growth hormone

Rooting hormone isn't absolutely necessary with an air-layer (cuttings yes, but not air layers).

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  Leo Schordje on Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:37 am

For advice on technique, spruce techniques are more appropriate to this species than pine techniques. It does not behave like a pine. Check out the Japanese and European articles on styling spruces for ideas. Read the articles on raising young trees and nursery stock to create bonsai stock. This tree looks too young to do much with, except grow it on and up to thicken the trunk. The trick is to keep the lower branches healthy while allowing enough taller growth to cause the trunk to gain girth, and taper.

Personally I would not bother with air layering. I would lean toward chopping the tree off just above the first or second whorl of branches, choose one branch to make the new leader wire that branch upright and then let it grow. This will put vigor back into the lowest branches and give you some back budding. Let the new leader grow to the current height and then repeat the process, chopping above the first or second whorl of branches on the new section of trunk. This grow out, chop method will give you taper in the trunk. Right now the trunk is straight, with no taper from top to bottom. It is a slow process, maybe 15 years before it is ready for a bonsai pot.

There are other techniques, many to choose from, my way isn't the only way.

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  gman on Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:45 am

I'm with Leo, if it were mine, I'd cut it down to some of the lower branches (wiring new leader) and put it into the ground, leave it there for a long time and concentrate on other trees. It looks like its 10 years old and D. Fir take decades to produce any kind of mature bark.
Its a dominant tree species where I live and I've spent over a decade looking for a collectable specimen and still haven't found it yet. Very Happy 
Good Luck and happy new year.
Cheers Graham

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yeah...

Post  Pepsis on Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:05 pm

Happy new year, right! I'm not much of new year person, so i forget to congrat other people. Sorry about that Very Happy

any way, every advice is much appreciated since i'm still very new at bonsai. I have to say in my defence, in a way, that i am well aware of this tree being too young, yet i got it for free and it was a surprise. also it has a great chance of having great nebari, and i just want to do what is best at this time, so later, i could enjoy a great tree.

If you guy would want to cut off top, then why not air layer it? I think Osoyoung suggested this for me only from practical reasons. Tree will take another ten years before becoming proper bonsai material, and what is one or two more years in comparison, and you could have another potentially great tree. Or Christmas tree for that matter Very Happy

So, these days it goes into to ground, it will be air layered, and left for couple of year. If i play it right it would be very nice.

These days, i shall go out my backyard and try find myself a few hawthorns. They grow here like crazy, and it should be no problem finding few suitable yamadoris. What ever i find, will post in another topic:)

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  Leo Schordje on Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:40 pm

Pepsis wrote: ..........
If you guy would want to cut off top, then why not air layer it? I think Osoyoung suggested this for me only from practical reasons. Tree will take another ten years before becoming proper bonsai material, and what is one or two more years in comparison, and you could have another potentially great tree. Or Christmas tree for that matter Very Happy............

I say this because where I live, it is so easy and inexpensive to get young douglas fir seedlings about the size you have that there is no need to spend the time on doing it. But there is no reason to not try to air layer it. Success rates for air layering of coniferous species is always less than 100%. If I personally wanted more douglas fir about the size you have, for less than $20 US, I could get one. But I am near nurseries that grow these for forestry projects and Christmas tree farms.

I found the cure to impatience with long term projects. Get more trees. If you are itching to do something, and are tempted to work on something that really should be just allowed to grow on, get more trees. I heartily support the idea of getting those hawthorns. For myself I need 50 to 100 projects going so I can set something aside and just let it grow.

Enjoy the hobby, get more trees.

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  RKatzin on Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:40 pm

Hi Pepsis, I have collected saplings like this from the forest where they grew in shade. I transfered them to an open area where they get full sun all year. They are beginning their fourth year in the sun and are now bushy little fellows and just starting to show some true bark on the trunks.

As Leo said, I have a few trees to tend while these develop, but I've done a minimal touch up to control top growth. Multiple terminals at the top are reduced to one as are crows feet at the end of the branches.

This will generate alot of backbudding and if you let it run for a couple of years you have a bushy little tree to work with. They will not do this in the shade, only full sun, feed well during summer and water well.

All the others advice will do just as well, that's what makes this such a great tree. I'm very glad to see you're growing one. Best of luck, Rick

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  gman on Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:25 pm

Hi Pepsis,
Please don't get me wrong, )lost in translation perhaps), all I stated was what I would do.  Air layering the top off would give you some great experience in doing that task but you would still have two very young trees.
How did you get a D. Fir?  As they aren't native to you?
As I said we have lots of them here and finding one to collect, which has really mature bark has been difficult but I have lots of photos of "examples" to use as inspiration when I do..... so I thought I'd share a couple with you.  


Cheers Graham

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  Pepsis on Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:30 pm

gman wrote:Hi Pepsis,
Please don't get me wrong, )lost in translation perhaps), all I stated was what I would do.  Air layering the top off would give you some great experience in doing that task but you would still have two very young trees.
How did you get a D. Fir?  As they aren't native to you?
As I said we have lots of them here and finding one to collect, which has really mature bark has been difficult but I have lots of photos of "examples" to use as inspiration when I do..... so I thought I'd share a couple with you.  
Cheers Graham

I understand all of you people very well. And once again i must thank all for all the advice and suggestions.

I made my decision. It goes into ground on almost full sun. Summers here go up to 40+degreesC and i am afraid of exposing it to the full sun. After all, it was brought from some 300m to my just over 100m above sea level.

They aren't native to Serbia, of course, but they develop lumber very fast here, and it was introduced because of these purposes. Man that has piece of land next to mine up on one hill not far from my house, apparently planted large number of them maybe some 20 or 30 years ago, and now they reproduce naturally. This one was on my property. Since it was not intended to be under wood but for wheat, it would be destroyed, so in a way i saved it. :)there are plenty to more to be dug up along borders of my land,  but i do not want to do that before i learn. So in a way this is my first victim; only it does not turn out to be victim at all. It does very well. Ground is not of very good quality where it sprouted, and even though it is in a relatively small training pot, almost full sun and some flower mixture soil made it grow well. It had very pale green color before but now i think is just fine. You can see it when i just potted it here

Nevertheless it has done well in past year, i will put it into the ground. i think that it will be very stressful for it to be layered and in this tiny pot at the same time.. Also, i believe trunk will have better chances fo developing more nicely. Don't you think?

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  RKatzin on Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:26 pm

Hi Pepsis, This is the homeland of this tree, in fact it is the state tree of Oregon. They are the dominant canopy tree in the forest. Young saplings like yours grow like that (real leggy) to get up to sun. Don't fear the sun, they love it. In shade they will drop bottom branches once the top gets into the sun, or even before as all energy is into the growing top terminal.

I collect saplings from between 3000' and 4000' elevation and bring them to the valley at about 1500' elevation. Our summers are also very hot and dry, temps well over 100F and not a drop of rain from June through Sept.. These trees grow very well here.

Plant this one as you say, but do get another and try it in the full sun. Rick

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  Pepsis on Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:42 pm

RKatzin wrote:Hi Pepsis, This is the homeland of this tree, in fact it is the state tree of Oregon. They are the dominant canopy tree in the forest. Young saplings like yours grow like that (real leggy) to get up to sun. Don't fear the sun, they love it. In shade they will drop bottom branches once the top gets into the sun, or even before as all energy is into the growing top terminal.

I collect saplings from between 3000' and 4000' elevation and bring them to the valley at about 1500' elevation. Our summers are also very hot and dry, temps well over 100F and not a drop of rain from June through Sept.. These trees grow very well here.

Plant this one as you say, but do get another and try it in the full sun.  Rick

OK. Thanks. Wasn't really sure what kind of weather you have over there. I don't like to rely on statistical data, since what is happening right now over there with weather is a way off any chart in recent history. i look at the map right now, and see that Oregon and Serbia are on the same latitude, only the elevation of where i live is a bit lower than yours. So, we should have pretty equal climate. I expect it to grow fine. Smile

Will find another tree to try some different techniques.

P.S. Something entirely different is going on with weather here. We are having temps over 10degC for about a month, and it should be somewhere around minus 10 to minus 20 degsC. I worry for my orchard. If this warm weather wakes the buds up, we could lose not only fruits, but forthcoming and inevitable cold could damage even entire trees. Sad


Last edited by Pepsis on Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:37 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Weather note)

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  gman on Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:04 pm

Hi Again,
Thanks for the background on how Douglas Fir found their way to Serbia. FYI - the fir in the first photo has a 6' dia and is probably close to 55m tall.
Just an observation - In my opinion your tree could use more nitrogen.....the colour could be significantly improved.
Cheers
G.

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

Post  Pepsis on Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:26 pm

gman wrote:Hi Again,
Thanks for the background on how Douglas Fir found their way to Serbia.  FYI - the fir in the first photo has a 6' dia and is probably close to 55m tall.
Just an observation - In my opinion your tree could use more nitrogen.....the colour could be significantly improved.
Cheers
G.

I agree. Spring will be very exciting for it. Smile

I read about their height there. It is impressive. Yet there are two reasons why they don't get that high here. One is climate. Although we are at about same latitude with Oregon climates are different. We are more of continental country, while O is a coastal country. Also soil types are different to.  The other reason is, the lumber industry here and people who plant them private cut them at age they find most productive. If a tree reaches 20 or so meters and has enough girth, in about 20 or 30 years it's being cut and replaced by seedling. So they simply are not given enough time to reach their full height.

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Re: A Douglas Fir of mine.

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