a million questions

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a million questions

Post  Eric F on Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:29 am

Hi, Ive been reading the forum for about a year now and actually trying my hand at bonsai the last 8 months or so. I have tons of questions. I should mention that Im an American ex pat living in Costa Rica or trapped might be a better word. I live in the southern mountains, near Panamá. So its a kind of unique micro climate, with quite a mix of plants and trees.I started out with a collected strangler fig that I still have and still cant Id. Ive actualy had it two yrs or more. So, I always liked bonsai and figure theres no better place as far as trees go. There are soooo many types here, some have to work. I have several fruit types, several ficus types and various other collected and bought trees. None are what I would consider bonsai but how could they be after a few months. So my skills can grow with them, time I have plenty of. But there are no clubs near me, and only one person that I know of doing bonsai. No bonsai tools,no akadama or 8822, almost no pots, I just have the desire to learn for me, no shows, and no bonsai people to come have a look. So its the internet and asking for help that I have to learn from. A basic tool kit and book are coming from the states soon. Cant wait! Ok, I came to ask questions but will be very happy to answer questions about CR or the flora or whatever. I like to help. I will probably just add more and more on this thread and not make new ones for questions if that works.
Ok, first question. I have several strangler figs of two species from local coffee bushes and fruit trees, where there unwelcome. They are stable now and growing. So I chopped several much shorter for starting the training to get started for the trees and myself. Now there from 2 to 10 inches tall. Some were 8 or 10 feet when I collected them so a couple are 3" or more and more in the 2" range. There growing branches from the soil up to where there chopped. Some have branches 4 - 5 inches long. How long do they need to be or should they be before pruning back and or wiring? Left alone this species grows long limbs with leaves at the ends. So do I just leave them to grow wild? Pick the ones I want and cut the rest? Pinch the tips for more ramification and taper? Cut or leave the secondaries coming out of the branches? I guess my question is what and when to do anything with the branches. Also for boganvilla I have the same questions, dont know how much it matters, its probably the same with bougies more brittle in my observation but the same idea. Or not. I'll leave it at that for questions now and see how it goes. I understand the basics, just dont know when to start or when its time to do whatever is next. Im in no rush, just want to do this right and waste time or energy where it will be wasted. Make sense? Thanks for your time and advice. I learn quick when I like something, I can learn tree torture too lol..Im hooked!

Eric F
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Re: a million questions

Post  Auballagh on Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:35 am

Hmmmm....  a few observations?

- A picture - or pictures - do indeed tell so many words.  Post up pictures of your trees, and it will help us all with useful information to provide comments or advice for you.

- Your isolated location will require study and application at a distance.  Keep reading.  Study and sift through information that is published, online and basically everything that is available to you.  Form opinions.  Ideas.  And be ready to change those initial opinions and ideas based on what you will continue to learn and experience.  This is an artistic endeavor you have embarked on, after all....

- At some point (hopefully soon) you will have to see examples of decent bonsai in person.  The flat, 2-dimensional aspect of an online, digital photograph is very limited and will only be truly helpful to a trained eye.  Really good bonsai (even so-called 'little ones') look a LOT bigger when viewed in real life, than when seen in photographs - even with high-quality photography.

- Learning on your own like this, even with a bit of help from the online community can be a frustrating, time consuming business.  Mistakes are inevitable.  To succeed, I recommend getting as much collaborative, face-to-face time with other bonsai enthusiasts/hobbyists/practitioners as you can manage.  The initial learning curve in bonsai is extremely steep.  Getting some hands-on help and motivation at this early point in your journey, will hopefully set the stage for future growth and success in the future.

Good luck!  I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of what you are growing.  Cool

Auballagh
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a million questions

Post  geo on Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:46 am

Welcome to IBC,Eric:the kinder and gentler forum(well,most of the time).There are some great tropical people on here.I commiserate with your isolation.We are on the same ship(of bonsai fools).I haven't even been able to find decent tools in Baja Sur yet. Shocked

geo
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Re: a million questions

Post  MKBonsai on Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:56 pm

Hi, and welcome to the IBC.

I have a number of old work colleagues who are Costa Rican, and they all seemed to be very nice, friendly people, from an amazing country. I keep in touch with them via LinkedIn, and am also a member of the LinkedIn Bonsai Group - who appear to have some Costa Ricans in their number. So, if there are no IBC Costa Ricans that you can find and link up with on the IBC Forum it might be worth trying to make contact through the Linkedin group. Facebook also have some Costa Rican Bonsai organisations listed that may be of help.

And if anyone says that we shouldn't be promoting LinkedIn or Facebook on the IBC - my thought is that if it helps an IBC member make contact and get help then they will probably appreciate this suggestion - plus of course if the Facebook and LinkedIn people get to hear of the IBC it can hopefully only help the IBC develop further as a forum.

John T - MKBonsai

MKBonsai
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Re: a million questions

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:05 pm

Hello Eric,

I am not here much, just wanted to welcome you.

George,

you can get affordable concave pruners on Amazon for about $12.00 US with shipping.
Please wrap up in a baby oil soaked rag.

Just so you know that they are only for cutting matchstick / toothpick thick branches.
This will hopefully to avoid the I broke my concaves on a branch.
Laters
Khaimraj


Khaimraj Seepersad
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Re: a million questions

Post  Eric F on Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:07 pm

Thanks for the warm welcome! And advice, past and future.
Geo, we have spoken on another forum a few times. After reading forums for months, I must agree this one is more friendly. For whatever reason I couldnt sign up before with my phone.
Its so cool that everyone helps and I feel a little humbled when people take time to answer my endless questions. And theres no end to my questions! At least Ive learned a lot before asking by reading other's questions. I have watering and soil mostly figured out and other basics. I agree that the learning curve is steep at first. Ive read enough to need help with specific things now, having learned a lot by reading. I learned Spanish super fast, and anything I want to learn comes fairly easy for me. I will post pics when needed. Right now my questions are more general. For example how to know when new branches need to be wired. I have several local figs taken from other trees and coffee bushes. Ive chopped them way down, from up to say 10' down to under 10". I know some new folks are afraid to chop trees. No fear here! The figs in question were free and marked for death since they come from fruit trees and such, I save them when I can. There not the best species for bonsai, I get that. But there perfect for making mistakes on free, common materials. One day I collected 40 or so. So now there chopped and growing branches. How do I know when to wire? It would help to know what species they are but thats no easy trick here. I believe one is f aurea ( golden fig?) that grows in Florida also.

Eric F
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Re: a million questions

Post  Eric F on Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:26 pm

Oops, didnt mean to hit send.
The other figs are harder to id, as there are about 50 types here of ficus. Still, a ficus branch is a ficus branch, I imagine there fairly similar. There are f benjamina available here, cheap. Like 3 bucks for a 4" tree with 3/4" trunks. But there aweful! They wont BB for me. I have 2 that I think are a microcarpa cultivar, someone said maybe emerald or whatever. Those are the only "bonsai" Ive bought as bonsai. Pretensai or pre bonsai describes them better. So for now Id like to know when to wire, not a specific branch but in general. I doubt mine are ready since the branches are only a month or two old or less. I just have a bunch to do when its time. Do they need to grow out and be cut back a few times first? I can go take pics to see a couple trees so you can see some local stranglers and why Im asking.
I have lots of fruits to try as bonsai too, as well as other nursery stock and yamadori.
Thanks again for your time and advice. I needed an outlet for my artistic side, but one doesnt learn art alone. So bonsai is perfect for me..

Eric F
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Re: a million questions

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:32 pm

Eric,

read this - http://www.bonsaiempire.com/blog/grow-clip

http://www.manlungpenjing.org/eng-pid-frame.html

In the tropical world, we use directional pruning to do most of the work.
When you get to pines, you can wire until you drop.

Please note - ficus wire scars badly and the scars take a long time to heal and disappear.
Laters.
Khaimraj

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Re: a million questions

Post  Eric F on Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:32 pm

Im not seeing how to upload pics with my phone so far. I only see send as an option. Maybe someone can help or I will figure it out. I did take pics of my native figs to show and be laughed at. I dont give up so its just a matter of time. Like bonsai!

Eric F
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Re: a million questions

Post  Eric F on Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:00 pm

Ok I changed my screen to classic and I found the smily faces and how to change fonts. The icons dont have the one Im used to. One of them leads to a box (its in spanish on my phone but I understand.) The box says send and it lets me choose a photo from my pics in the phone that I just took to ask questions here. The only option is send. That takes me to a pic site like flikr but aname I forget. That registered me automaticly and sent a confirmation that I clicked to which says the page isnt available. Could it be a local service problem? Could it be a language problem? Could it be that Im a dumb gringo that cant figure stuff out on a "smart" phone? I dont know. I dont see a normal photo icon to click on. Ideas? Perhaps its a Costa Rica thing, in which case sence and logic as we know does not exist. I had to register here five or more times because of a local problem. Any ideas would be great, though I know it may not be possible to help. Thanks as always for advice or instruction.

Eric F
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Re: a million questions

Post  M. Frary on Thu Feb 04, 2016 2:26 am

For some reason or other you aren't able to upload pictures to this forum from a phone. That's all I have so I dont.

M. Frary
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Re: a million questions

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