6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

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6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:03 pm

Hi im new and more to come of me later  Smile

im new to professional type bonsai techniques.  have managed a few trimmed in garden rockery but now progressing and learning the correct techniques.
tools, books, workshops all booked and ready etc.

a few trees to buy in spring and have a couple already
building a bonsai bench in the spring



but for now I have last years larch asleep in my garden and im not sure what to do with it


at present it is more niwaki than bonsai and is around 6ft

i am tempted to cut right down and attempt to stylize much better into a bonsai.

alternatively just a trim from the top and prune the branches into nice layers and hopefully cloud like



what would you do with this tree?


thanks


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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  arihato on Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:41 pm

First determine how tall you want your tree to finished, deduct two thirds of that height and that will be the place to cut.
OR you could go for better taper, it is the thing that takes the most time and effort to achieve. For good taper you need all the lower twigs/branches you have, the lower the better, let them grow long for a couple of years.

I grow small trees, so I would go to the third - fourth branch from the bottom and cut there, making a slanting cut to help with visual taper. The first two or three branches will be sacrificial, while they grow You can start growing and shaping the canopy.

Some general pointer for Larch, they do not bud back, in the 35 years of growing hundreds of Larches not one of them budded back, so no buds = no branch.
On the positive side, if you have only one bud you can grow a whole new canopy.
They will need free draining medium, I prefer to use no organics, but that is personal.
You can scissor pinch throughout the growing season, wait till the buds are visible then cut back to one or two new buds.
Treasure the lower branches they will make the difference in getting good taper.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:02 pm

cheers, good suggestions, will take me a few ideas before i commit

just need to commit before spring arrives



im not sure about cutting right down as yet, all my others will be normal small trees but could be nice to have something a bit bigger nearby, just not this big.

maybe cut to the 2nd yellow tape and then try to wire all branches downwards


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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:33 pm

Can you advise further on cutting down techniques and best way to stylize

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  JimLewis on Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:29 pm

marc74 wrote:Can you advise further on cutting down techniques and best way to stylize

You're not ready to "stylize" yet. Arihato told you how to chop. All you have to decide is where to do it, then wait while the tree does some of the work of maturing, developing girth and taper, etc.

Personally, I'd cut just above a branch about 1.5 or 2 feet from the soil like, wire one of the branches upright as a possible new apex and then let it be for a couple of years -- at least.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:49 pm

Cool sounds like a plan.

I'll post more pics and then maybe hide behind my shed in light and let grow mad for a year before even think about

I'm creating a growing area and a bench area for half decent displaying etc


going to take me a while to decide what and how to do it. unsure if should just have a large upright with better structure


open to all suggestions to help me learn


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6FT Japanese Larch

Post  paul.spearman on Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:36 am

If you wait to long the bottom branches will die back.
So I would heavy wire the trunck and get sum movement then cut just below the height you require
and and follow Jim's advice for the apex
reg Paul.s

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  fiona on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:07 am

Marc, could you give a more precise location under your avatar please. It's just so we can gauge what your climate is like. A location update will let us know which clubs/groups you are near.

The good thing about larch in the UK is that they give a fairly quick return for your input, as opposed to other trees that can take a decade or more before you start to see any sort of "finished" shape. I'd do the chop then leave for a while to see what pops out. Then it's a matter of grow and discard and grow and discard and more grow and discard before you get your eventual tree. To do that, you need to know what final shape you want (so you know which bits to discard ;-) ) I think your desired effect is fairly doable with what you've got, and as I've said, larches are relatively fast growers here. But just don't expect it to become like that overnight.

btw if you want some inspiration, go to the Members bit on the menu bar and look up Smithy's posts. He has done some good stuff with larches.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:16 am

Cool thanks guys

Ps I'm in Kent UK

I will try for some shape and not too much upright but wanted to keep a little large.

Problem was as was green last year I wanted to look quite good this year but I hate the size so within next 2 weeks I will cut and wire and wait a couple of years

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:24 am

I don't think I had committed to bonsai when posted and was still thinking half the size in upright and better branching

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  mumra on Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:54 am

Marc - Arihato's advice is sound and I can not compliment his knowledge of larches enough. I think 35 years growing them says it all.

I am very aware of Arihatos ponchon for small trees ( Laughing ) but even though you cut it low, as he has recommended, this does not mean that will be the end height. What this will do is put the energy into those low branches and this in turn will increase the lower trunk girth giving you taper and will get rid of the current cylindrical look of the tree (as it is at present). You could obviously cut it higher but I would likely cut it at the suggested height even if you want a tree of 4ft just due to taper increase you will get. Also take note of the growth pattern of larches. They are apical dominant thus you want to keep check o the top growth so that the lower growth does not die off. If this does happen then all is not lost as they do take to grafting well (not that I have tried) but in reality you want to avoid this extra stress, for you  not your tree, if at all possible.


Also as a side note I notice that you are in Kent, UK. There is the winter image show at Swindon on 23rd Feb. You should take a trip over and have a look as it is well worth a visit. Traders, stunning trees and so forth... what else do you need?  Twisted Evil 

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  Nigel Parke on Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:05 pm

Marc,

Though Arihato's advice is specific to larches, what he has said and the comments of Jim, Fiona and Mumra -The Everliving (great name by the way) is generally applicable to most plants that one wishes to transform into a bonsai. The only factor which changes or varies same is the size bonsai you wish to end up with. So the proportional rule given by Arihato is immediately applicable.

I would add a comment which I'm stealing from Khaimraj before he makes it  Very Happy , is to try and draw and image of what you envision the bonsai to be, that will immediately guide you on dimensions and what you need to do to accomplish same. At the end of the day, its a learning experience and you should be enjoying what you're doing.

Keep posting your progress,we can all learn together.

Cheers,
Nigel

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:20 pm

i just got this smaller larch and im thinking to make the larger to be cut down and to compliment each other

so aim for similar style and be about 3-4 times its size. i have a large training plastic pot to look similar


so an upright and just need to hope buds well at lower


ill wait for some buds to start to form then cut down and hope for the best

i am also booked in for a workshop day in april so can get some extra advise then before cut down maybe










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Newb Alert!

Post  LittleJoe on Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:56 pm

As a relative beginner, I'm curious. Shouldn't the tree also go into the ground, or a large training pot. Maybe with a slab under the roots to help them spread out and work on the nebari? Again, I'm a beginner, so if I'm totally out of line. Please disregard.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  lordy on Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:55 pm

For what it's worth, Larches dont seem to grow into trees with much taper. Certainly not quickly. My suspicion is that the nebari is the same. I've had one in the ground for several years. While the branches grow longer and a bit of girth, the trunk is much slower to react.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  arihato on Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:15 pm

Larix is very apically dominant, it has to be forced to make taper.
For that to happen you need to have as many lower branches as possible, you need to cut back hard every few years during the training stage, you need to fertilise them heavily. They need free draining medium.
I use pond baskets to grow my trees, because the roots get air-pruned and bifurcate inside the basket.
If you do everything right this is possible:


IMG_2801 by Arihato, on Flickr

or this

IMG_2805 by Arihato, on Flickr

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:19 pm

ok its started to bud and has been cut down and given some slight direction on how to grow

it will now be left and see if can bush it out abit and then think of any better styling next year.  may repot in a month on 2 when i know its doing ok but not cut back on roots much.  just needs a better pot

formal upright seemed its best option for now



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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  arihato on Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:56 pm

Marc, permit me to make some remarks.


Larch1 by Arihato, on Flickr

The first thing that springs to mind is that the tree has no taper, it will look young for a very long time. Old trees have taper, young trees don't, it is the major problem with Larch.
Secondly there are areas that have a lot of branches (green circles) and areas that are bare (yellow circles). The bare stretches will never sprout buds, Larch doesn't bud back on old wood (no matter what the books say). The second tier of branches (just below the yellow circle) are bare for the first 5-6 cm, there will be no buds there either (sorry).
The lower green circle, if you let all the branches there grow it will create a bulge, so not a good idea. You need to make a selection, in the top green circle the branches are better spaced.

Fortunately you have some lower branches, keep them alive and healthy at all cost. They will create some taper for you.

The lower branches (blue V) have buds close to the trunk, if you would cut there and make one of them (the left) a new leader, you will create some taper and can build a tree with the branches better distributed along the new trunk.

I know it hurts to cut off so much of your tree, but in the future it will pay off as your tree develops.

In the end Marc it is your tree, you have to live with it and like it, listen to all the advice you get and than do your thing the way you want to.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:36 pm

ok, some very good advise and i will take on board

i am tempted to go the whole hog but i did originally buy as liked that was a bit larger. it is to be situated away from my bonsai collection as something a bit bigger


but yes, i totally agree that it is too straight with no taper

so if i brought the left up as new leader i would lose the right with a downward cut?
then let grow wild for the season and re-evaluate next year?


im building an area for such growing projects


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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  arihato on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:43 pm

No, you cut between the branches. Use one as a first branch the other as a new leader. If you were to repeat this procedure a few times you would have gained height and increased the taper. This way you can build the right rhythm in the branches, large inbetween space low down, smaller as you get closer to the top.

Straight is no problem, at least not for me I like a slender straight tree, but a little taper is needed.

Cut, let grow, cut again, let grow etc. etc.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  Marty Weiser on Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:13 am

In my experience, you should be very careful with a larch repot at other than the optimal time. the optimal time is when the buds are just starting to show some green in the center.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:28 pm

so you mean something like this, basic cut so can let heal and die back slightly and not affect the tree and create a new leader and let grow for a season or 2?



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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  arihato on Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:00 pm

Yes, you will have to decide if you want to keep the trunk straight, if so you need to make a concave cut in between the branches. You will have to remove some wood at the place you are going to move the branch upright. A 'V' cut will allow you to put the branch straight up, clean up the cut with a sharp knife, cover with cutpaste or even vaseline to prevent drying out of the cambium
A healthy Larch will heal this wound probably in one season if the leader is left to grow freely.

Once the leader has attained the desired thickness you can repeat the procedure higher up. Repeat until you have the height you want, but now you will have some taper in the trunk and your branches will be spaced nicely.

In the meantime the lower branches are to grow freely. Because I have not much space and a lot of trees I cut all the side shoots on the sacrificial branches back to one bud each spring, only the growing tip is never cut back until the branch is ready to be removed. Mine have reach 1.5 mtr. at times on my ShoHin 'to be'.

You might want to consider transplanting the tree into a pond basket or colander, growth will increase, root system will be better, and you can feed the heck out of them.

Transplanting Larch is safe until the leaves are extending, a little green is okay. But keep it out of full sun and strong winds.

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  marc74 on Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:34 pm

ok thanks, ill have a think and will keep in this large pot for another year or so

left branch you feel is a better leader?  right is thicker



and you cut out the buds along right branch and others apart form the ones on tip?
did i understand that correct


sorry if i ask many maybe obvious questions.  its still all going in and may become clearer after my uk workshop next month



edit: i ordered some pond baskets, nothing too big 23cm sq, unsure if big enough for this as yet

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

Post  arihato on Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:41 pm

Listen if you knew the right question to ask, you would probably already know the answer.  Rolling Eyes 
Okay lets do some identifying: the lower branches that you coloured orange are the sacrificial branches (S). They get special treatment because they will get you some taper.
If you let these (S) grow free they will get long and wide. Because I have limited space in my garden and lots of trees, I cut all the side shoots of these (S) back to one (or two) bud and I do that every year. The end bud is NEVER touched, until the branch is removed.
Here is an example, as you can see the left sacrificial branch has already been removed, the right one is still on the tree, all side shoots on this branch are cut back to one or two buds.


IMG_2333 by Arihato, on Flickr

For the future structure of your tree you use both of the branches and they can grow free, for a season at a time. After the growing season you select what needs pruning and what stays. I chose the left branch because the buds on it are in a better pattern, but you can choose the other one if you like, it is not of terrible importance in this stage.

The basket is big enough, in order to secure the tree in the basket you take three bamboo sticks (not too thick) and stick them through the basket like this:


CRW_7635 by Arihato, on Flickr

To give you some perspective on the sacrificial branch, the bud on the left will be the new tree


CRW_7554 by Arihato, on Flickr

I hope this answers some of your queries, if not keep asking questions................

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Re: 6ft Japanese Larch suggestions

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