How long should I let my trees grow before pruning, and potting?

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How long should I let my trees grow before pruning, and potting?

Post  Kiyalynn on Mon May 30, 2011 8:21 am

I've been intrested in Bonsai for years, and recently I've made a determined effort to grow them, doing much reaserch and looking for tree's. This spring, I told my family about my interest and recived 14 young tree's from my Mother-In-Law, and Aunt-In-Law. Unwanted young saplings saved from being killed in their gardens.
The list being;
3- Lilac
4- Oak - Very small- 2-6 leaves on them.
1- Maple - 6 in high strong sapling.
1- Crab Apple - I've actualy got a branch that had grown and rooted into the ground we had to chop it off of the mother plant but its pretty large. (also has a very nice slant to it, I have high hopes for a Leaning Bonsai out of this one.)
1- Sassafras -Was looking bad after transport, but perked up after being watered, I've been warned their hard to grow.
1- Fern - Odd, but with a woody trunk
1- Unkown -Red Leaves
2- Unknown -Green Leaves - small
All started native in Pennsylvania.
Most of them had much of thier roots hurt in the inital gathering.
I didn't have the pots and soil quite ready to get them directly into Bonsai pots so I placed them into temporary pots ranging from plastic to unglazed clay, with soil (and mulch) that they came with and regular potting soil, and placed on my front porch.
As it is, I'm unsure as to when to do the next steps;
I need to trim a few of them back but how long should I let them rest from being drawn out of the wild?
Many have long thick roots, that will be unable to fit into a bonsai pot, How long should I wait to do that?
I of course need to put them into the proper pot with correct soil, I'm guessing that should be done with the root trimming?
I'm sorry for the very beginier questions, but I want to get off on the right start and after spending quite some time searching I'm still unsure.
Thank you for taking the time to read,
~I welcome any and all tips. I love you

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How long should I let my trees grow before pruning, and potting?

Post  bonsaisr on Mon May 30, 2011 3:10 pm

There are two or three things you need to do long before you think about bonsai pots.
First, get the exact identity of your trees. Since they are all natives, go to the nearest bookstore and get a field guide to trees & shrubs. If this proves difficult, contact your nearest extension service.
Some of the species you mention are better for bonsai; some don't bother with. Common lilac has been tried for bonsai, but is not a particularly good candidate. The eastern oaks are not considered bonsai material. The maple might be suitable, but it depends on which species. Crabapple is your best bet. Read up on crabapple bonsai. There are no ferns in North America with a woody trunk. The extension agent may be able to identify it.
Your next step is to establish a growing area something like a vegetable garden, and grow them in the ground for several years. They are not ready for bonsai pots.
Meanwhile, go to the nearest garden center and get a tree or shrub to work on, like a cotoneaster or juniper. Where in Pennsylvania are you? Join the nearest bonsai club. Go to the library & borrow some bonsai books.

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Re: How long should I let my trees grow before pruning, and potting?

Post  Kiyalynn on Mon May 30, 2011 5:33 pm

Thank You for the reply, I'll definatly see what species they are. And the fern may be imported then... or prehaps not really a fern? My aunt called it a fern but it definitly had a twisting thick wood trunk on the mother plant, but as the mother started as a plant bought for a garden it may not be native to PA.

I'm in Somerset CO PA, and as far as I've seen the closest Bonsai club is in Pitsburgh several hours drive away. Thats why I joined this Online one when I found it.

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Re: How long should I let my trees grow before pruning, and potting?

Post  JimLewis on Mon May 30, 2011 7:35 pm


Great Lakes Bonsai Society. Contact Mike Golab by phone (814)
456-6186 or by Email: for meeting dates and


Susquehanna Bonsai Club. Meets third Monday, 7:00 PM. Contact James
and Mary Kay Doyle, 145l Pleasant Hill Rd., Harrisburg, PA 17112, (717)
545-4555 for meeting locations. Club since l98l. Over 200 members.
PENNSYLVANIA - Huntingdon Valley

Pennypack Bonsai Society. Meets the second Thursday of every month
at Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust 2955 Edgehill Road,
Huntingdon Valley, PA. Website:

Lancaster Bonsai Society. Meets at historic Conestoga House and
Gardens at 1608 Marietta Pike (Rt. 23), just west of Lancaster. The
club meets in the library every 2nd Wednesday of the month, except for
December, at 7:00 PM. Member of Potomac Bonsai Society. Spring and fall
shows. Contact: e-mail:
PENNSYLVANIA - Lehigh Valley

Bonsai Society of Lehigh Valley. Meets at Bethlehem Area Vocational
Technical School, Horticultural Room, 3300 Chester Ave., Bethlehem,
last Tuesday, 7:00 PM, except July, August, December. Jim Gillespie,
(610) 837-6688. Members come from Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and
surrounding areas of Lehigh Valley. Mailing address: PO Box 1684,
Bethlehem, PA 18016-1684. Mid-May exhibit.
PENNSYLVANIA - Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Bonsai Society. Meets at Greater Plymouth Community
Center, 2910 Jolly Rd, Plymouth Meeting, PA, third Friday, 7:00 PM.
Linda Brant, 610-948-6380. Email: Website:


Pittsburgh Bonsai Society. Meets at Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center,
5th and Shady Ave., third Wednesday, 7:00 PM. Don Gould, 239 James St.,
Wilkins Twp, PA 15145. (412) 823- 2090. Seminars, exhibits, workshops,
beginner and advanced classes.


North East Pennsylvania Bonsai Society meets Last Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm
at Midway Garden Center 1865 Highway 315 Pittson, PA. The Northeast PA Bonsai Society was begun in June of 1988 and continues
the mission of providing a place for its members to come together to expand and
share their knowledge and skills as well as advancing and promoting interest in
bonsai among the general public in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For more information contact Susan Lauer 570-654-6194


Reading Bonsai Society. Club Meetings are held the first Monday of
each month at 7pm in the Reading Public Museum Auditorium. Enter
through the back security entrance. For more information contact Alan
Groff (610) 927-2272. Club website:

Augusta Bonsai Club. Meets on the second Monday of each month at
6:30 PM at the United Chridt Church, White Deer Churches, West Milton,
PA. An occasional meeting held at members homes. Contact: John
Bierley(570) 546-7811, Email: Meetings are
fun and informal. Occasionally a field trip and every September a
PENNSYLVANIA (Southeast) - Wilmington, DE

Brandywine Bonsai Society. Meets every third Saturday of the month
(except December) at the Brandywine Town Center, Wilmington-West
Chester Pike (Rte 202) & Naamans Road (Rte 92), at 10:00 AM. Varied
programs include guest masters. Annual bonsai shows in the courtyard of
the Brandywine River Museum (Chadds Ford, PA) in June and at Longwood
Gardens (Kennett Square, PA) in the fall. Contact: Steve
Ittel,302-778-4546 or by e-mail Web site:

Jim Lewis - - 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: How long should I let my trees grow before pruning, and potting?

Post  littleart-fx on Mon May 30, 2011 10:37 pm


As i am no where in that area,...or near...humble applause for Jim Lewis....and his info!
Ibc,...somewhere rules!

Totaly off and on toppic!

grtz machiel from holland,.....who has certain wood flowing up his veins,....called progress!

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Re: How long should I let my trees grow before pruning, and potting?

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