Bargain acers, group planting?

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Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Tue May 13, 2014 5:13 pm

Hi all. I just picked up a bit of a bargain, 5 young Japanese maples for £7.50 (not each either, for all 5)! They're about 24" tall atm with trunks between 1-2cm, I was intending to do a group bonsai with them.

I know late spring isn't the best time to work with maples but do you guys think they could take a little bit of root and top pruning and a repot into a trough now to get them out of the nursery puts and dried out, less than ideal soil?

Also I'm thinking cat litter + pine bark for soil mix. Would that be OK? (maybe with a few handfuls of kanuma to help acidity and combat the hard water around here)

Sorry for all the questions, this one was a bit of an impulse buy and was cheap enough to not hurt too much of it goes wrong!
Thanks in advance

NickJ
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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  AlainK on Tue May 13, 2014 6:07 pm

NickJ wrote:
(...) Sorry for all the questions(...)

It's all right, I forgive you: that's what this forum is here for - I mean, asking for, and exchanging tips Wink 

Since your climate is very similar to mine, I suppose that what I would do can apply where you live, especially this year: most trees started earlier this year compared to last year, and they should be in full leaves by now. What's more, the weather here is usaually more continental (drier), but we've had several weeks of alterning periods of sunny days and rain. At the moment, it's sunny, but rather cool outside for a month of May, but we had short showers of rain this afternoon, so it's the best moment to repot maples in this kind of climate, actually: a lot of nursery men repot their maples in early June in Japan because it's the beginning of a rather mild but rainy period.

Don't prune them (too hard): they might be drooping a little for a while after repotting, but they will recover very soon. They need to have leaves to synthetize chlorophyl (or sthg ;-))

About the soil, I can't say: here, we don't have the kind of cat litter that people can use abroad (but you'll find useful info on Harry Harrington's website)

Any photos?


Last edited by AlainK on Thu May 15, 2014 10:15 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Tue May 13, 2014 6:58 pm

Hi Alain, thanks for the quick response Smile

It's good to hear you say that,  I'd read a few posts/blogs about people re-potting maples once the Spring leaves had hardened off with varied outcomes, some had losses while some swear by it and claim to have lost only a handful out of hundreds.  What you say does indeed make sense and funnily enough its been a mix of sun and light showers here today, but while I was reading your post the heavens opened and it absolutely chucked it down! Lol.
I wasn't intending any very heavy pruning, just some tidying and to get rid of a few branches that are either wilting or totally out of place for a group planting.

I'm a bit unsure of what size pot to use too tbh, i've got a 30x18x8cm bonsai pot I could use for now but I'm not sure that will be big enough for this group.

bonsai4me is a site I visit very often, I think I must have read pretty much everything on there a few times at least and I have both of Harry's Inspirations books, it's a great site.  His article is what convinced me to give the cat litter a try actually.

As for photos, I don't have individual photos yet (too wet outside right now!) but here's a quick shot of all of them in their 3 litre nursery pots.  The front left tree has the thickest trunk at 2.5cm



Btw, I love your garden!  Your "lawn" is coming along nicely Very Happy

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  chewie on Wed May 14, 2014 10:50 am

Maybe you should take some cuttings from your trees and add them to the group planting (or plant them separately and add later when they've rooted)
From your photo it looks like most of your trees are the same size, for a group planting it usually best to use varying size of trees to give a better field of depth effect.


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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  Michael Cooper on Wed May 14, 2014 2:39 pm

This year I re potted my trees in Tesco dust free cat litter with about 25% pine bark as recommended by Harry Harrington and have used green dream fertiliser and I must say that ,touch wood, they are all looking better than they have done for some time.

Michael Cooper
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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Wed May 14, 2014 9:33 pm

Good to know Michael, thanks Smile 
Seeing as it was a nice day today I decided to go for it and plant them all in the 12" pot in 70% Sanicat (was Sophisticat), 30% graded bark chips.  They needed a bit more root and top pruning than I was planning on to fit happily in there but hopefully they come through!

Chewie, yes I was thinking that too so I have potted up a few of the offcuts to maybe add next time.  For now I'm quite happy with the look of it as my first group planting, just need it to fill out a little in the right places and a bit of styling in the fall

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  chewie on Thu May 15, 2014 8:39 am

Post a photo! I'd love to see it!

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Thu May 15, 2014 9:34 pm

Here's a quick shot from my phone.  Overall its about 2 feet tall, 18" wide and around a foot deep for now.

It's a bit rough and raw looking atm, some of the branches will be getting removed over Winter but I want to try and get some shoots developing lower down the branches before I remove any more top growth and start to shape it.  A couple of the trees are covered in buds so my fingers are crossed for them, lots of work over the next few years I think!

Not bad for under £15 though! (and £7 of that was cat litter and bark chips lol)


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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  chewie on Fri May 16, 2014 8:33 am

Nice job and nice trees, they look like they have great potential! you got a great bargain!

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Fri May 16, 2014 10:29 am

Thanks Smile I'm quite hopeful for them. The front left tree has a very strong shoot at the base which has grown to the canopy so I'll be leaving that one alone and letting it grow free as a sacrifice

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Wed May 28, 2014 12:38 pm

After 2 weeks, most of the trees seem to be doing well. 3 have put out a few new leaves and shoots, 1 has dropped a few leaves but also putting out new shoots but the front left tree is still very wilted and a lot of the larger leaves are curling or drying out a bit. There are a couple of buds emerging on it but the one new set of leaves it put out already is looking a bit shrivelled and drooping.

Should I think about cutting this tree back further or removing some of the leaves that are drying out? This was the tree that got the most root chopping so maybe I didn't remove enough top growth?

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  Thomas Urban on Fri May 30, 2014 3:39 pm

Sweet bargin! and nice job. You have modern substrate and they look fine I wouldn't worry too much about their health, maybe just avoid too much direct sun throughout the day? I found my J. Maples enjoy the morning sun up to noon and then they get shade, I re-potted some this year and I haven't had any brown leaves but I also water heavily everyday.

Let it grow widely and then hack back each individual tree to the future size that you would like it to be and then just let it grow again.

http://walter-pall-bonsai.blogspot.cz/2013/02/refurbishing-japanese-maple-hedge.html


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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  Michael Cooper on Fri May 30, 2014 4:22 pm

How odd Nick.Since you  started this thread off I too have now acquired some nice little Acers and am going to do the same thing. Morrisons supermarket had them , seedling grown, no grafts at £3 each for smaller ones and £8 for 2 foot high or so.  Atropurpureum and Orange Dream,I see they have even reduced them to £2.50  not quite the bargain you had but pretty good.
The snag is pots large enough for group planting are quite expensive so after I have grown them on in bigger pots for a while I thought I might do a group in a stout  plastic seed tray, then perhaps hope that one day my off spring might buy dad a nice group planting size pot.
Do keep us informed as your mature.
Sadly my wife pinched the best larger one for a patio tree but I have sneaked out and got another.

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  beer city snake on Sat May 31, 2014 4:07 am

Thomas Urban wrote:Sweet bargin! and nice job. You have modern substrate and they look fine I wouldn't worry too much about their health, maybe just avoid too much direct sun throughout the day? I found my J. Maples enjoy the morning sun up to noon and then they get shade, I re-potted some this year and I haven't had any brown leaves but I also water heavily everyday.

Let it grow widely and then hack back each individual tree to the future size that you would like it to be and then just let it grow again.

http://walter-pall-bonsai.blogspot.cz/2013/02/refurbishing-japanese-maple-hedge.html


man, i dig that w. pall post... i read that a while ago and had to buy a nice short bladed hedge shears  Cool 
i also dig his companion youtube post where he talks about the fert/h2o/substrate and how the 3 are a whole

btw - your avatar is hard to make out, but are you boarding or skiing ?

kevin

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link to ARBOR ARTS COLLECTIVE BLOG

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  Neli on Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:20 am

Michael Cooper wrote:How odd Nick.Since you  started this thread off I too have now acquired some nice little Acers and am going to do the same thing. Morrisons supermarket had them , seedling grown, no grafts at £3 each for smaller ones and £8 for 2 foot high or so.  Atropurpureum and Orange Dream,I see they have even reduced them to £2.50  not quite the bargain you had but pretty good.
The snag is pots large enough for group planting are quite expensive so after I have grown them on in bigger pots for a while I thought I might do a group in a stout  plastic seed tray, then perhaps hope that one day my off spring might buy dad a nice group planting size pot.
Do keep us informed as your mature.
Sadly my wife pinched the best larger one for a patio tree but I have sneaked out and got another.
Not every one can afford expensive pots...this hobby is not meant to handicap people...but for them to have fun. I can not find any pots here for sale...and if I had to buy pots for all my trees I would need not less than USD50 000. So only few of them get expensive pots...
The rest I make pots for from concrete...and have lots of fun. I have made so many different type of pots...and I think some are actually cute...or at least I like them and that is what matters to me.
Here is an example for you from a pot I made for a group planting. I used wet garden soil as mold.


On my blog or FB album you can see the crazy things I did and how I made them. Hope this will be of help. I dont make anything that takes too much time or effort...everything is easy and fast.
https://www.facebook.com/neli.stoyanova.180/media_set?set=a.4763668861683.1073741857.1594227676&type=3

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  Thomas Urban on Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:54 am

beer city snake wrote:
Thomas Urban wrote:Sweet bargin! and nice job. You have modern substrate and they look fine I wouldn't worry too much about their health, maybe just avoid too much direct sun throughout the day? I found my J. Maples enjoy the morning sun up to noon and then they get shade, I re-potted some this year and I haven't had any brown leaves but I also water heavily everyday.

Let it grow widely and then hack back each individual tree to the future size that you would like it to be and then just let it grow again.

http://walter-pall-bonsai.blogspot.cz/2013/02/refurbishing-japanese-maple-hedge.html


man, i dig that w. pall post... i read that a while ago and had to buy a nice short bladed hedge shears  Cool 
i also dig his companion youtube post where he talks about the fert/h2o/substrate and how the 3 are a whole

btw - your avatar is hard to make out, but are you boarding or skiing ?

kevin

Snowboarding.

Yes the whole idea against the standard "pinch everything off right away so that your tree looks nice" makes sense when I compare how my material looked when I started and now when I applied his advice, perhaps common gardening sense as he calls it.

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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:52 pm

Michael Cooper wrote:How odd Nick.Since you  started this thread off I too have now acquired some nice little Acers and am going to do the same thing. Morrisons supermarket had them , seedling grown, no grafts at £3 each for smaller ones and £8 for 2 foot high or so.  Atropurpureum and Orange Dream,I see they have even reduced them to £2.50  not quite the bargain you had but pretty good.
The snag is pots large enough for group planting are quite expensive so after I have grown them on in bigger pots for a while I thought I might do a group in a stout  plastic seed tray, then perhaps hope that one day my off spring might buy dad a nice group planting size pot.
Do keep us informed as your mature.
Sadly my wife pinched the best larger one for a patio tree but I have sneaked out and got another.

Nice one Smile Mine were from Tesco and also no graft, seedling grown and same varieties. I wouldn't be surprised if they initially came from the same nursery before being sent out to the supermarkets. Lol @ the wife pinching one, it's understandable. I've kept the atropurpureum I got untouched so far (apart from repotting in cat litter) as it's a nice looking little tree as it is.
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you regarding the pot too lol. If it's any help, the pot I used is far from ideal (just had it lying around empty) but you can get those for about £20 from most garden centres I think. I've also seen some suitable looking mica ones on ebay for around £30.


Thomas, thanks for the link. I'd seen that before but had forgotten about it! What he says does make sense and I also have been trying his heavy feed/substrate/water combo on some of my trees with no ill effects so far.


I'm still a little concerned about the one tree in my group. The majority of the leaves have shrivelled up now but there are still a few buds extending and starting to open. Would it be worth snipping the shrivelled leaves off to focus energy on the emerging buds or just leave it to do it's own thing for now? A couple of the other trees are doing very well, literally covered in new buds on all the branches and even down the trunk Smile

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Hypertufa

Post  Geoline on Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:29 pm

Neli wrote:
The rest I make pots for from concrete...and have lots of fun. I have made so many different type of pots...and I think some are actually cute...or at least I like them and that is what matters to me.

Most excellent, Neli. Learning how to make some of the accoutrements needed to enhance the composition of your bonsai is another one of the reasons folks like Mike Bartolone began the Internet Bonsai Club.

Hypertufa pots made of cement and lightweight fillers was one of the fun pottery projects which got introduced to the many bonsai clubs across the world via the Internet Bonsai club.

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Back to bargain Acer palmatums

Post  Geoline on Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:58 pm

One of the most ubiquitous atropurpureums, Bloodgood, is incredibly easy to start from seed. It grows fast and vigorously and really doesn't need me dickering with mycorrhizae to build and strengthen it's root mass. These puppies grow like weeds.

Of course, a seedling will not be a true Bloodgood cultivar but a phenotype of the parent's genetics. This means that your bonsai forest of the future will have some variation like a forest in nature. You might even find an odd phenotype you absolutely fall in love with when you start from seed.

Another tip in finding vigorous Acer palmatum specimens to develop for forest plantings, is developing the anonymous root stock used by nurserymen for grafting to rare cultivars.

Geoline
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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  Michael Cooper on Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:01 pm

Michael Cooper wrote:How odd Nick.Since you  started this thread off I too have now acquired some nice little Acers and am going to do the same thing. Morrisons supermarket had them , seedling grown, no grafts at £3 each for smaller ones and £8 for 2 foot high or so.  Atropurpureum and Orange Dream,I see they have even reduced them to £2.50  not quite the bargain you had but pretty good.
The snag is pots large enough for group planting are quite expensive so after I have grown them on in bigger pots for a while I thought I might do a group in a stout  plastic seed tray, then perhaps hope that one day my off spring might buy dad a nice group planting size pot.
Do keep us informed as your mature.
Sadly my wife pinched the best larger one for a patio tree but I have sneaked out and got another.

So here are my supermarket Acers bought last summer planted in my DIY slab (see separate posting for slab making http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t15800-home-made-slab-for-group-planting )

Planted the end of Feb and looking pretty colourful in the evening sun tonight

Michael Cooper
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Re: Bargain acers, group planting?

Post  NickJ on Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:43 pm

That looks great Michael, good job!

Mine look nowhere near that good but they are quite experimental at the moment and were cut back hard at the start of the year to try to start some better placed branching.  The tree I was concerned about in my earlier posts didn't make it either so only 4 trees now, but I plan on putting the grouping on a large slab with some younger trees next year and maybe add some more penjing elements to it too.
I've noticed though that one must have been mis-labelled (Orange Dream I think) as it's leafed out a good few weeks earlier than the other three trees and is bright orange compared to the green of the others.

You've done really well with your slab, in fact I think I might try the same thing too!  If nothing else, it'll give me something to do this winter Smile

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