Fir bonsai

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Fir bonsai

Post  Vitusus on Sat May 14, 2016 2:29 pm








Hi there, as I promised, I am posting another of my newly planted trees, this time a fir. What would you suggest doing this year? I assume that no designing will take place but how about removing the deadwood now?

I was thinking, when you look at picture number 3, you see one long branch going to the left, I want to bend it later and make an apex of it, what do you think? At the moment, there is basically no aex because as you can see on first picture, the old apex was broken I think two winters ago and left a scar there.

Any general tips and tricks for a fir?

Thanks

Vitusus

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Vitusus on Wed May 18, 2016 2:22 pm

No one having experience with fir?

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  fiona on Wed May 18, 2016 3:52 pm

Personally, I think you have to let that one grow and grow and then grow some more before you think about doing anything. I'd take it out the pot and ground plant it.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  beer city snake on Wed May 18, 2016 4:09 pm

fiona wrote:Personally, I think you have to let that one grow and grow and then grow some more before you think about doing anything.  I'd take it out the pot and ground plant it.

...and remove all that dead twigging (maybe leaving some of the dead branching for the future)

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  AlainK on Wed May 18, 2016 5:36 pm

beer city snake wrote:
fiona wrote:Personally, I think you have to let that one grow and grow and then grow some more before you think about doing anything.  I'd take it out the pot and ground plant it.

...and remove all that dead twigging (maybe leaving some of the dead branching for the future)

+1 : if you keep it potted, the chances that it will become less and less healthy are quite high...

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Vitusus on Wed May 18, 2016 9:05 pm

Thank you all for your advice, I am afraid that I do not have the luxury of free ground to which I could plant it. I had all my trees planted freely at my mother's place but she recently sold that place and I only have a terrace now on which I can have a few trees in their pots. So what to do in order to make the tree more healthy in that pot? Except for cutting the dead parts?

Regards

Vitusus

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  beer city snake on Wed May 18, 2016 9:22 pm

grow it out in as large a pot as possible.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Anitasfarm on Thu May 19, 2016 5:45 pm

Vitusus wrote:So what to do in order to make the tree more healthy in that pot?

I have a number of fir (Balsam Fir, Abies balsamea, is this your species also?) but most only for a few years. A couple of things to keep them healthy in a pot:
- Never let them dry out!! Use a more moisture retaining soil, and all of mine spend hot summer months in partial shade with a "blanket" of long-fiber sphagnum moss on the surface, and they do fine. Full sun during cooler months will promote backbudding.
- Minimal root pruning - they are fine with being pot-bound, and will be more vigorous if not repotted very often.
- Soil on the acid side - incorporate some peat moss, "blanket" with l-f sphagnum, and/or use fertilizer for acid-loving trees (Mir-Acid is a common brand).

I like my little wild-collected firs very much, and encourage you to work with this tree and give us updates! They will bud back even on thicker trunks, but *only* if they are vigorous. Work on them step-wise and never do too much all at once. They have some peculiarities of growth pattern (*very* apically dominant!) that I am still trying to figure out how best to work with for styling. Any one else with firs, maybe we should start a thread with images and observations?

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Vitusus on Thu May 19, 2016 6:52 pm

@Anitasfarm:

Thank you very much for your kind words. As a beginner I am grateful for any advice and you seem to have experience with this species. I think that I will have no problem keeping it wet and I will definitely find out more about those acidic fertilizers. And I agree, I would love to see other people's firs for inspiration.

Regards

Vitusus

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Vitusus on Fri May 20, 2016 7:12 pm

Ok guys, I just finished cleaning the dead wood and it already looks much better now cheers





Now is the time to water and feed it and we'll see how it does.

By the way, it's only May but I already started to think about how am I going to keep the trees healthy over winter. I don't have place in which I could somehow put those pots into the soil, so I am wondering where should I put them for winter. I have a basement and an attic, both are colder than the main part of the house but still there might be like 13-15 degrees Celsius in both of them and I am not sure if the trees are going to stay dormant in this quite high temperature. What do you think?

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Leo Schordje on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:45 am

Where are the trees growing for summer? I'm assuming that you are growing them outdoors. You will want them outdoors for the winter. Fir are extremely cold tolerant. Do you have an unheated tool shed, or a garage for an auto? In winter you want the trees protected from sun and wind. Protected from the sun, so that when they freeze, they freeze solid and stay frozen. It is freeze-thaw cycling that does a fair amount of winter damage. You want shelter from the wind, to prevent dehydration. For my hardy trees, I take them off the bench they grow on. Set them on the ground underneath. Then I cover the bench with a tarpaulin that covers the east, south and west sides completely, and partially covers the north side. When I get snow, I shovel in extra snow to keep the trees watered and insulated from rapid temperature changes.

If you store them inside a building, They will need to be cooler than 4 C for the winter. If you are concerned about the soil freezing, thus expanding and subsequently breaking the ceramic pot, winter storage should be between 0 C and 4 C. Fir are cool weather trees, and will wake up out of dormancy if temperatures are above 4 C. So if you do not have a place this cold, your best alternative would be to find a place you can store them outside, or perhaps in an unheated tool shed, or construct a protective box you can leave them outside for the winter. A cold frame is not necessary, as once temperatures are below 4 C, you really don't need any light. Trees are fully dormant below 4 C.

You are thinking about winter at the right time. You will have time to make a plan.

I always wanted to try a Balsam Fir, haven't yet, it is inspiring to see someone else is raising them.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  M. Frary on Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:06 pm

You can leave these outside in winter where you live no problem.
I would set them on the ground and mulch up to the bottom branches.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Vitusus on Sun Jun 19, 2016 9:16 pm

Thank you very much, actually, I have a garage where it should be fairly cold during the winter, so maybe I could put those trees in there, there is a bit of light through the small window facing south and I guess the temperature changes are not as rapid as they would be in the outside. Hopefully they will be ok during the winter, we'll see, I will think about it a bit more before the colder weather comes.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  AlainK on Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:23 pm

Dobrý večer,

(...) I have a garage where it should be fairly cold during the winter, so maybe I could put those trees in there, there is a bit of light through the small window facing south and I guess the temperature changes are not as rapid as they would be in the outside. Hopefully they will be ok during the winter, we'll see, I will think about it a bit more before the colder weather comes.

I think that native trees should be kept outside.

Abies and Picea are mountain trees, in their natural habitat they can survive temperatures like -30°C when in the ground. When potted, you can put them against a wall with leaves up to the first branches in winter. They will be healthier, and stronger. They require some frost in winter, otherwise they would grow in Brazil. Of course, you can build a cold house in your garage, the way some people grow tropical trees in the polar circle, but I think keeping such trees in an artificial environment is a mistake, a very expensive and vain mistake.

Trees are like people: they don't like being kept in prison cells, they want to be free, or they'd rather die. Cool

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  M. Frary on Mon Jun 20, 2016 2:57 am

Balsam fir aren't mountain trees. Not here. They live in swamps with cedar and tamarack and white spruce. They love the moisture. We have them by the millions. I don't have any as bonsai though. They just never appealed to me.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  Vitusus on Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:27 am

I see, I will think about it and I will decide during the autumn based on space available, right now the garage seems like reasonable option but I might find some suitable space outside as well, I will have to look at it.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  M. Frary on Tue Jun 21, 2016 4:31 pm

North side of a building. Sit it on the ground and lie straw around it and up to the bottom branch. I do this with every tree I have. They survive minus 35 for 2 weeks straight 2 winters ago. Last year everything made it but got attacked by voles. It only got down to minus 25 degrees last winter. Those aren't Celsius but Farenheight temps.
I have various junioers,tamaracks,a few different types of elm,jack,mugo and scots pines,hawthorn and various odd trees like boxwoods. I keep them all outside. It can get dry in a garage and if it isn't freezing in there you must watch the moisture in the pots.
My trees all freeze solid and stay that way for months.
I've learned not to baby trees too much. I neglect them on purpose. Only to water occasionally during summer. Almost all work is done early spring. Except for pines. I repot and work my pines in summer. Coming up soon. Then I'm basically done until next spring.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  beer city snake on Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:17 pm

i am with you on that mike re: trying not to molly coddle them too much...

as i clear out my tropical collection and move toward species suitable for my climate, i want some of them to be tough bastards...
thats why i sneak up on 'em now and then and give 'em a swift kick when they aint looking...
keeps 'em on their toes. Twisted Evil

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  M. Frary on Tue Jun 21, 2016 7:48 pm

It's hard for me to sneak up on them
They can feel my footfalls as I walk through the woods.
But trees that are adapted to your climate are a good thing. And not necessarily trees native to your area. Shimpaku juniper is one. They are a lot tougher than they look. And very cold hardy.
I like the fact that once winter hits and it stays below freezing I don't have to worry about them. Too much. I got a few plans to implement as Varmint Cong deterrents so I don't get decimated this winter.
All I will have to do is watch the snow cover the trees. Snow is a must too. It insulates against even the coldest air.

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  beer city snake on Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:13 pm

yep - thats why i said suitable rather than native...

i really hope you come up with something for protection...
what a devastating loss last winter Evil or Very Mad

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Re: Fir bonsai

Post  AlainK on Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:59 pm

Hi,

... I got a few plans to implement as Varmint Cong deterrents so I don't get decimated this winter.
All I will have to do is watch the snow cover the trees. Snow is a must too. It insulates against even the coldest air

Yeah, mountain trees, sort of... Smile

Or tundra trees, but in that case, they are not as elegant, unless you fancy a lot of dead wood.

Spruce bark beetle infestation:

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/19/ancient-bialowieza-forest-facing-major-destruction/




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