indoor Hemlock Bonsai

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indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  shy on Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:59 pm

I'm new at the hobby and would like to practice a little...I've just read that Hemlock reacts very well to Bonsai techniques and it just happens that my yard is full of them!

I live on the Eastern Coast of Canada and of course these trees have no problems with our Canadian winters. My question would be will they do well indoors year round? Would you have websites to suggest that would have information on acclimating a tree from the wild to indoors? How big or small should the specimen be to have the best chance at success?

I'm not sure of what the rules and regulations are for shipping trees across countries but if anyone is looking for some I can certainly try to help hehe!

I hope I'm not offending any serious hobbyists by talking Bonsai with non native trees...please let me know on the hobby ethics and the do (s) and don't (s). Embarassed

Carole

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  JimLewis on Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:33 pm

I have very limited experience with Hemlocks, but it is extremely unlikely they would survive more than a few weeks if kept indoors. Generally, the only trees that will live in the very hostile (to plants) indoor environment are tropical or semi-tropical species, with an occasional warm-temperate species (Chinese elm, etc.) thrown in. Hemlock are cold weather species, and meet none of the criteria for indoor living.

It is growing increasingly difficult to ship plants from country to country. I guess the EU has made it easier in Europe, but shipping across the ocean would be tough, and the US has very strict regs. Hemlock is fairly common in the northern states, however -- if the adelgid doesn't kill them all in the east.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  shy on Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:06 pm

I can't say that I've encountered the Balsam but I'm predicting that this yr would be a great possible come back for the long horned beetles...we've had an especially mild winter with minimal snow and this is usually the perfect recipe for eggs to hatch...same thing for army worms...we only get them every few yrs when the conditions are right and this yr would be prone.

I will certainly attempt at shaping some Hemlocks outdoors and I'll try to find information on potting a wild one for the first time without too much shock to the tree. Everywhere I read they say they grow very slowly but I've watched some in my yard grow a few inches every summer which to me seems allot.

My in-laws have mastered the art of mixing apple tree breeds by inserting the limb of one tree to the trunk of another tree (grafts)...this was first done because some trees were more resilient to frost damage or certain pests that would attack the bark and kill certain breeds of trees. Have you ever herd of anything similar done with Bonsai to increase their resilience at indoor living?

I'll be going to Utah for the whole month of May and am debating if I should bring my 2 new Bonsai with me...I think it might be a problem at the border though...I may have to ask a friend to take care of them...

Thanks again for your reply Jim,

Carole

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  RKatzin on Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:47 pm

Hi shy, Hemlock make great bonsai, but most definitely an outdoor tree, in fact even outside they need protection from summers heat and dryness when potted. They should never be allowed to dry (the soil) and should be misted a few times a day. Dig them before the new foliage begins to break and get as much root mass as you can. Then reduce the roots by 1/3 at each re-potting. Don't be tempted to push them harder as they're very moisture sensitive and need good root mass to keep the foliage green in the heat. When temps are 90F and above I always get some brown foliage no matter what I do. Compared to other conifers they are slow growers, young Pondarosa pines can shoot up a few feet in a season. As far as grafting goes, it's fairly common. Japanese Black Pine are grafted to a White Pine root stock to gain the strength of the Whites. Most hybrids of the Japanese Maples are grafted onto standard Japanese Maple root stock because the hybrids are weak and need the strengths of the standard. Almost all citrus are grafts for the same reason. The Flying Dragon is an ancient citrus tree that is used to dwarf other citrus. None of this will help an outdoor tree live indoors. As Jim said, only tropical, semi-tropical and with a few exceptions and specialized care a few others can be kept inside. Traveling is difficult with bonsai, especially crossing borders. Trees must be inspected and often be quarintined, either coming in or going out or both. Some large nurseries have inpections and certifications that allow them to ship to some countries, but mostly it's pretty tight at the borders.

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  Joe Hatfield on Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:19 pm

RKatzin wrote:Hi shy, Hemlock make great bonsai, but most definitely an outdoor tree, in fact even outside they need protection from summers heat and dryness when potted. They should never be allowed to dry (the soil) and should be misted a few times a day. Dig them before the new foliage begins to break and get as much root mass as you can. Then reduce the roots by 1/3 at each re-potting. Don't be tempted to push them harder as they're very moisture sensitive and need good root mass to keep the foliage green in the heat. When temps are 90F and above I always get some brown foliage no matter what I do. Compared to other conifers they are slow growers, young Pondarosa pines can shoot up a few feet in a season. As far as grafting goes, it's fairly common. Japanese Black Pine are grafted to a White Pine root stock to gain the strength of the Whites. Most hybrids of the Japanese Maples are grafted onto standard Japanese Maple root stock because the hybrids are weak and need the strengths of the standard. Almost all citrus are grafts for the same reason. The Flying Dragon is an ancient citrus tree that is used to dwarf other citrus. None of this will help an outdoor tree live indoors. As Jim said, only tropical, semi-tropical and with a few exceptions and specialized care a few others can be kept inside. Traveling is difficult with bonsai, especially crossing borders. Trees must be inspected and often be quarintined, either coming in or going out or both. Some large nurseries have inpections and certifications that allow them to ship to some countries, but mostly it's pretty tight at the borders.

This was great advice, as well as the others.

I have had loads of trouble with them from collecting in regard to them drying out and dieing. I only tried collecting them 2x ( several years ago) from a very far distance from my home, without proper items to ensure the survival.

Next year I plan on making a "honest" attempt.

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  RKatzin on Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:48 pm

Thanks Joe, being a new guy here I'm a bit leary to jump in, but being raised in and around the Philly area, I'm a talker and can't help myself. Now living in Oregon, where we have two Hemlock, Mountain, T. mertensiana, and Western, T. hetersophylla, and while both are more user friendly as far as care, the Canadian, T. canadensis has better attributes as far as bonsai is concerned, smaller, softer leaves and slower, tighter growth. So of course I want one. They just don't like going south. They call them Hemlock cause nobody can pronounce Tsuga.

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  shy on Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:18 pm

Thanks RKatzin,

This is all so fascinating, these trees are allot more resilient then most have perceived over the years. Thinking of the whole concept of grafting and these trees surviving such an ordeal in itself is amazing.

I believe you are correct about traveling with trees; it is not a good plan.

I remember that 1-2 yrs ago we had problems crossing even a simple wood pallet used to carry freight as it has to be stamped and certified before entering in Canada to avoid any bad hitch hikers (bugs) that could be a danger to the forests. We as companies could be finned large amounts $ if we did not fallow these guidelines. Even soil can be a problem to cross border. I guess all these regulations are there to protect the environment but they sure makes it harder on hobbyists hehe!

Thanks for all your info, I feel like a sponge that just can't get enough water (in my case information).

Have a great day,

Carole

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  shy on Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:08 pm

Since we're on the Hemlock subject...in my area the Hemlock was often used to build boat docks in the marinas because of its proprieties of not rotting in the water...it has been said to be even more resilient then cedar when used as exterior lumber.

I know I must sound very cruel talking this way about such a wonderful tree, I just thought that this is also part of an important history of the tree.

My land is full of Hemlock, the top soil will vary from 2feet deep to 3-4 feet deep and underneath is pure red clay and sand stone. People think twice when wanting to dig a whole to plant a big tree or a small fish pond in this area...you'll need more then elbow grease!

When we built our home over 12 yrs ago we kept 2 very large wild Hemlocks in the front yard and even with allot of precaution we took not to let the machinery disturb the soil in that area the back fill they did about 15-20 feet away from the trees to raise the land for proper drainage even though this was less then 1 foot of soil added it still affected the trees...the damage could be seen in the first 2 years. Today 12 yrs later I believe that this may be one of the last yrs that we'll get to keep them as I've noticed today that the bark at the first 3 feet from the base is separating from the wood...the markings of a woodpecker is a big indicator that the insects have penetrated beneath the bark and the tree is no longer healthy enough to properly hold its natural armor.

I hope to take from all of your experiences on my future tree adventures (outdoors for Hemlock of course)

Laughing

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Hemlock

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:30 pm

shy wrote:I will certainly attempt at shaping some Hemlocks outdoors and I'll try to find information on potting a wild one for the first time without too much shock to the tree.
You can't just dig up a tree & put it in a bonsai pot. It requires a gradual transition. You will have to put it first in an oversized training pot. Read Nick Lenz' book, Bonsai From the Wild.
And, no, you can't grow hemlocks indoors. They are difficult outdoors. And there is no way grafting will change that.
shy wrote:
I'll be going to Utah for the whole month of May and am debating if I should bring my 2 new Bonsai with me...I think it might be a problem at the border though...I may have to ask a friend to take care of them...
You won't be able to take your trees to Utah because they would have to be quarantined for two years. Make sure your friend understands how to take care of bonsai. They are not houseplants.
Iris

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  shy on Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:41 pm

Thanks Iris,

I'm sorry I didn't specify that I don't think this yr would be a good choice of my part for attempting the wild potting...as I will be gone for 1 month this summer but I would like to read up on shaping and trimming and might try a few techniques while leaving them in the ground. Even though I love Bonsai, I also enjoy larger trimmed trees, I live out in the country and have plenty of space to fill.

I will certainly look up the book you've mentionned thank you for the suggestion. Maybe by next yr I'll be ripe enough to try the potting step

flower

Carole

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  Fuzzy on Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:48 am

I think hemlock are an extremely under used species for bonsai cultivation which is a shame, because the leaves are about half the size of yew and with good care the tree will bud profusely. A lovely species imo especially when the local forestry commission warden has given permission to collect as they are regarded as weeds. Smile

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

Post  shy on Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:02 pm

Wow....weeds....if the warden only knew what we know about these wonderful trees, their appreciation would certainly thrive. I'm presuming these trees are very common in your area as well?

Hemlocks are common in my area as well and I think when a natural resource is plentiful locals don't seem to appreciate them as much. I do agree with you, they are very unique, the needles are much softer then they look and their shape gives them a "fluffy-er" look then some of their close relatives and the branches have more flexibility and movement in the wind then some of the other conifers.

I grew up 2 hrs away from where I currently live and there were no Hemlocks to be seen...my first encounter was 15yrs ago and have appreciated them ever since.

Thanks for taking part in the conversation,

Carole

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Update

Post  Tyler on Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:09 pm

I came across this thread searching Hemlock, and might I add this has been quite the usefull thread to follow. I am trying my hand at bonsai and also working with wild Hemlocks in Canada. I was wondering how your bonsai is doing shy, also if you had any advice or tips you learnt and don't mind sharing ( I havent come across too many others working with these trees).

That being said if anyone else has any new hemlock tips, I am eager to learn!

TyGuy

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Re: indoor Hemlock Bonsai

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