Creating a 'formal-ish' "Upright Style" Bougainvillea (from scratch, a hardwood cutting rooted months ago) Questions about initial branch development!

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Creating a 'formal-ish' "Upright Style" Bougainvillea (from scratch, a hardwood cutting rooted months ago) Questions about initial branch development!

Post  Bougies!!1!1!!! :) on Sun Jun 24, 2018 10:33 pm

I'm hoping less for specifics on styling this specific bougainvillea (though anything's appreciated!) and more on the general concepts involved in developing initial branch-structure, in creating your initial primaries, secondaries and, well, I'm not even sure how many times you're supposed to do the "grow wayyy out, cut-back heavily" approach before you begin shape-pruning/silhouette-pruning (or what W.Pall would call the 'Hedge Pruning' method) Honestly, while I'm very interested in developing this particular pictured specimen from scratch, I'm more interested in the overall techniques as I've got close to 100 trees now and am worried I'm approaching things wrong (am nearing my 2yr mark in the hobby, with most trees obtained during last year's growing-season, almost every single one of them being a trunk-chopped collected tree or a thick, hardwood propagate...all specimen where I'm starting w/o foliage/branching and have to develop primary branch-structure)




I'm posting this ^ tree since it's such a simple/straight-forward example of getting at the Q's I'm looking to apply to my collection (progress albums of my better trees are all curated here: https://gabrielfreeman.imgur.com/ , as you can see most of it is just 'blocky trunks' that I'm trying to develop into larger bonsai), so for developing the pictured tree here into a formal upright here's what I'd do (guess I'm hoping to be corrected, this is as optimal an approach as I know by now!) I'd:

1 - obtain and stabilize material ie get it in a container and rooted (it was started in a plastic cup, instead of cutting the escaped-roots I put it in a 2nd container w/ a rich but well-draining bottom; it will be moved to a pond-filter basket 'training pot' at its first hard-prune)

2 - only grow-out the primaries you'll use (keeping some unsure ones is OK but will create bigger scars if removed later, as well as having wasted resources), grow them out long - VERY, VERY LONG - until the bottom few inches of the branches are at least 75% as thick as they should be in the final composure, and hard-prune these 3 primaries back to 2 nodes apiece; grow out 'very very long' once again, only not quite as long since they aren't to be as-thick as the branches they come from. Repeat this procedure (x?) times, and now, voila, you can consider your branching-structure achieved, you can transition into 'silhouette pruning'/hedge pruning methods instead of structural branch-development pruning methods....*This*, I think, is where I've been having the most trouble, am not certain how many times I'm supposed to do the hard-cuts back to 2 nodes, am not sure how thick (relative to final-desired-thickness) a branch should be before it's considered OK to cut-back to 2 nodes, and now after reading others' approaches I'm not even sure I think cutting back to 2 nodes is *ever* appropriate, perhaps with the exception of the first or second pruning but then a transition to 'hedge pruning' from thereon out, I mean getting that pronounced taper in the first couple splits (trunk to primary branch, primary branch to first tertiary branch) is important but it seems that, after that's achieved, there's the necessary structure for beginning a far less aggressive (and much more horticulturally-sound) practice of hedge-pruning for a couple seasons......does that sound on-point?

3 - once the primary&secondary branch-structure has been achieved and the tree has been 'hedge pruned' for a season or two (all the while getting any redundant branching removed, and obviously being wired throughout the entirety of these steps), you're now at the 'silhouette pruning' stage, you're now shaping pads to create the canopy shape you've chosen.


In the case of my example bougie here, I think just 2 rounds of hard-prunes to 2 nodes is sufficient for 'initial branch structure' before going to hedge pruning, whereas on some of my larger (collected and trunk-chopped, very tall and/or wide) specimen I think 3-4 rounds of such hard-prunes may be in order for a convincing 'initial branching skeleton structure' upon which I can transition to the hedge-pruning method for some seasons so that the previously-created structure can fill-in, and then, after a season or two of that, I can start shape-pruning or silhouette-pruning it.....with very fast-growing species like a bougie in FL that's being hyper-fed, am thinking maybe 1-1.5 seasons for those 3 branches to be 75% as thick as wanted in the final composition, another .5-.75 growing-seasons for the secondary-branches off the 3 primaries to be grown-in, then there'd be 12 growing-tips (over 2 stages of ramification) that I'd have arranged in the right placement as to allow me to begin 'hedge pruning' for a season or two to really force back-budding and let it get strong (hedge pruning doesn't take *nearly* as much out of a specimen as these hard-prunes to 2 nodes do!), at which point I'd basically be able to simply shape-prune and work out the finer details...that's 2.5-->3.25 years for me to enter the 'shape pruning'/finer development stage, if anything I'd guess that's a pretty conservative estimate given Erik Wigert was able to turn stock into Epcot material in 2 years lol, and while I surely don't have his skill, this particular example-piece is smaller and thus needs less time to grow-out primaries (as they don't need to be as thick as primaries on, say, my 1' wide specimen!)

I'm very on-top of controlling the orientation of growth, like when developing this bougie you can see I've got zip-ties pulling the branches up, that's simply to set their bottom couple inches in an upright posture, both for the aesthetic in the final design as well as to have a more natural-looking branch-collar angle (for a 'formal'-type design), more upright - on the crapes I'm developing it's the opposite, I'm using guy-wires to pull-down the outer shoots so they're lower, in either case I'm controlling the direction of the bases of my first and second round primaries so they're placed appropriately for developing pads that actually fit the final design.

Thanks a lot for any thoughts/feedback/suggestions/etc on this, most-especially the two concepts of 'how many times do you hard-prune to 2 nodes?', and 'is that even necessary, can you just skip that and do hedge-pruning with selective branch-removal from the get-go?' I ask the latter because, in developing one of my larger bougies, I spent all last year growing-out a primary, cut it back to 2 nodes early this year as it was coming out of dormancy, and watched it bud from the branch-collar instead of the 2 nodes....the branching above the collar ended-up dying-back, so have to re-grow that primary now. I *know* that, if I'd just 'hedge pruned' at that time and cut several inches higher, I would've saved the branch- and been able to cut-back to the 2 desired nodes once they actually budded. I think *that's* a big appeal of the 'hedge pruning' approach to me, after reading Pall's articles on it I'm basically just trying to figure out when it's OK for me to transition from 'building primaries' to hedge pruning, as said I'm sure it depends on the size of the tree but, for example's sake, I'm guessing 2 rounds of heavy grow-out & cut-back to 2 node is sufficient for a small specimen like that, whereas for a larger specimen that's destined to be >3' when finished you'd probably want 3-4 seriously noticeable tapers between primary/secondary/tertiary branches! Like 2 rounds wouldn't be enough for this guy:

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Re: Creating a 'formal-ish' "Upright Style" Bougainvillea (from scratch, a hardwood cutting rooted months ago) Questions about initial branch development!

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:00 pm

Gabriel,

normally would suggest, first learning how get the plant healthy.

Then I would suggest working on cuttings, not the mother plant.
This would be 10 to 20 plants.

Your climate might be similar enough to mine to suggest, ground growing,
placing the plant firstly in a colander and then in the ground.
With some plants I get up to 3 or 4 inches on the trunk in the first year.

Generally 3 feet of branch extension will give you an inch of trunk
expansion. Additionally, a 1 inch wound, when you cut of the branch
may be an optimum for easy healing.

I have pushed the ground growing to a 3 inch trunk and 6 placed branches.

This allows me to collect seeds or seedlings, instead of having to look for
big trunks.
Additionally, I use 3 inch trunks because of the guide line of 1 inch trunk to 6 inches
of height.
At 15 to 18 inches height or width, as you get older, the train on the back etc.
is a lot.

If you don't know look up Clip and Grow / Lingnan.

Your first step however would be to get them healthy.
Laters.
Khaimraj
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Re: Creating a 'formal-ish' "Upright Style" Bougainvillea (from scratch, a hardwood cutting rooted months ago) Questions about initial branch development!

Post  Bougies!!1!1!!! :) on Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:08 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Gabriel,

normally would suggest, first learning how get the plant healthy.

Then I would suggest working on cuttings, not the mother plant.
This would be 10 to 20 plants.
Gabriel's just the name I put on my imgur but I like it and now wish I'd made it my username Wink This particular specimen is healthy, however it's more of an example-question as I'm dealing with this same scenario on *tons* of specimen (I've got almost 100, when propagating & collecting all of last year I never realized how much space they'd take-up while being grown-out!), but this thread/question is about the basic principles of branch-building from scratch and I kind of want it taken as granted that watering, fertilization, substrate, lighting, wiring, etc are all acknowledged as on-point, insect issues are treated before bumping nitro to push growth (damn do aphids love soft, supple foliage that's barely developing its cuticle!), redundant shoots are removed wherever they occur, etc etc Smile

(and re mother plant/cuttings I'm not even sure what you mean tbh, the hardwood cuttings I propagate aren't from any bougainvilleas I own (none have branching that thick to be pruned!), I collect sticks if a large stand is pruned but I primarily trunk-chop and collect larger specimen, which leaves me having to develop a canopy 'from scratch' which is why I've made this thread, to go over the foundations of primary/secondary/tertiary branch-development, specifically how long to do that before transitioning into gentler silhouette/hedge-pruning techniques Wink )




Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:
Your climate might be similar enough to mine to suggest, ground growing,
placing the plant firstly in a colander and then in the ground.
With some plants I get up to 3 or 4 inches on the trunk in the first year.

Generally 3 feet of branch extension will give you an inch of trunk
expansion. Additionally, a 1 inch wound, when you cut of the branch
may be an optimum for easy healing.

I have pushed the ground growing to a 3 inch trunk and 6 placed branches.

This allows me to collect seeds or seedlings, instead of having to look for
big trunks.
Additionally, I use 3 inch trunks because of the guide line of 1 inch trunk to 6 inches
of height.
At 15 to 18 inches height or width, as you get older, the train on the back etc.
is a lot.

If you don't know look up Clip and Grow / Lingnan.

Your first step however would be to get them healthy.
Laters.
Khaimraj

Appreciate the thoughts but that's not how I do bonsai, I collect trunks that are already finished, in no cases am I trying to grow trunks I'm simply trying to grow canopies on already-finished trunks Wink

[I only used this specimen as an example because it's so straight-forward in that it's a 3-branched upright, though the principles of creating primaries/secondaries from scratch would be the same general principles I'm trying to use on yama/yardadori like this bougie:


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