Water-elm - First Potting

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Water-elm - First Potting

Post  Zach Smith on Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:47 pm

Here's a nice triple-trunk water-elm I collected last year. It's grown like a weed, so I decided it was time to pot it this past Saturday. The base is 4", and it's 24" to the tip of the tallest trunk. The pot is by Chuck Iker. Comments welcome.

Zach




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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  AlainK on Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:26 am

First time I've heard about Planera aquatica.

Is it commonly used as bonsai material in Louisiana? If so, Iris will have to update her glossary Wink

Water elm, planertree - Planera aquatica - Planera à feuilles d'aulne

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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  Zach Smith on Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:17 am

AlainK wrote:First time I've heard about Planera aquatica.

Is it commonly used as bonsai material in Louisiana? If so, Iris will have to update her glossary Wink

Water elm, planertree - Planera aquatica - Planera à feuilles d'aulne
It is not commonly used as bonsai even in Louisiana, despite many desirable (even superior) qualities. The tree is a swamp dweller ranging all the way from here to southern Illinois, east to Florida and north to North Carolina. The leaves are naturally small and reduce well, mature trees have a really attractive exfoliating bark, and nebari is typically very good. They live with their feet in water, so you don't have to worry about root rot.

I have other specimens I'm working on which are nicer than this tree. I'll post as they develop.

Zach


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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  fiona on Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:22 am

Zach Smith wrote: It is not commonly used as bonsai even in Louisiana, despite many desirable (even superior) qualities. The tree is a swamp dweller ranging all the way from here to southern Illinois, east to Florida and north to North Carolina. The leaves are naturally small and reduce well, mature trees have a really attractive exfoliating bark, and nebari is typically very good. They live with their feet in water, so you don't have to worry about root rot.

I have other specimens I'm working on which are nicer than this tree. I'll post as they develop.

That would be great, Zach. Although there are trees being posted on the forum that I will never experience, it is always really interesting to see different species.

btw that's a lovely pot in your pic - who is the potter?

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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  AlainK on Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:41 am

fiona wrote:
That would be great, Zach. Although there are trees being posted on the forum that I will never experience, it is always really interesting to see different species.

Since yesterday, I've found more info about it:

Range of cultivation: USDA 6b (-19° C), so if there are any nurseries providing this plant in Europe, it would be possible to cultivate it here. I haven't found any in france so far though.

Doesn't tolerate any amount of salt in the soil.




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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  Zach Smith on Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:44 am

That would be great, Zach. Although there are trees being posted on the forum that I will never experience, it is always really interesting to see different species.

btw that's a lovely pot in your pic - who is the potter?
Chuck Iker. He's in Ohio, and does terrific work.

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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  jgeanangel on Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:32 am

That is nice Zach! I have been working with small water elms for as long as I have Bald Cypress...In SC it is hard to find BC without tromping all over water elms:) You are right about them being fast growing and having many characteristics that should make them a very good species for bonsai. The one thing I have found is that you never want to let them get too dry....due to this I grow mine in shallow trays of water...not with pots submerged but just a half inch or so of water. When I do this I suspect that water elms are the fast growing plants that I have in my nursery...I can prune them 3-4 times in a season.

John

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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  Russell Coker on Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:09 pm

I had one that had been collected in Louisiana for about ten years, and found it to be the most maddening tree in my collection. I never could get any decent ramification. I'd cut new shoots and end up with a single secondary instead of 2 or 3 - and most of the time it grew back in the wrong direction! I gave up, it's gone, gave it away or it died, can't remember, don't care. Maybe trees from different parts of its range are more cooperative. If I come across another I'll gladly try again.

You have a nice start there, Zach. I'd like to see the others too!

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Water-elm - First Potting

Post  ironman on Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:48 pm

Nice tree, Zach...

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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  Rob Kempinski on Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:52 pm

Russell Coker wrote:I had one that had been collected in Louisiana for about ten years, and found it to be the most maddening tree in my collection. I never could get any decent ramification. I'd cut new shoots and end up with a single secondary instead of 2 or 3 - and most of the time it grew back in the wrong direction! I gave up, it's gone, gave it away or it died, can't remember, don't care. Maybe trees from different parts of its range are more cooperative. If I come across another I'll gladly try again.

Russel, I have had the same problem with Water Elm, they do not like to be styled in anything other than a bush. Wire a branch and it withers the next year. The deadwood rots extremely fast - faster than bougainvillea and cuts don't heal well. Very slow growing especially in a pot. On top of that, they do not live long in my part of Florida. I assume they miss their winter dormant period and slowly they weaken and die after about 5 years. The few I collected several years ago gave up the ghost. Crying or Very sad Not sure what superior qualities as a bonsai they have - maybe small leaves and readily available.

Oh, they can live totally submerged in water for a long period so perhaps that can be a new method to display a bonsai - in an aquarium. Now wouldn't that be something!


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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

Post  Zach Smith on Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:47 pm

Rob Kempinski wrote:
Russell Coker wrote:I had one that had been collected in Louisiana for about ten years, and found it to be the most maddening tree in my collection. I never could get any decent ramification. I'd cut new shoots and end up with a single secondary instead of 2 or 3 - and most of the time it grew back in the wrong direction! I gave up, it's gone, gave it away or it died, can't remember, don't care. Maybe trees from different parts of its range are more cooperative. If I come across another I'll gladly try again.

Russel, I have had the same problem with Water Elm, they do not like to be styled in anything other than a bush. Wire a branch and it withers the next year. The deadwood rots extremely fast - faster than bougainvillea and cuts don't heal well. Very slow growing especially in a pot. On top of that, they do not live long in my part of Florida. I assume they miss their winter dormant period and slowly they weaken and die after about 5 years. The few I collected several years ago gave up the ghost. Crying or Very sad Not sure what superior qualities as a bonsai they have - maybe small leaves and readily available.

Oh, they can live totally submerged in water for a long period so perhaps that can be a new method to display a bonsai - in an aquarium. Now wouldn't that be something!

Rob, it's too bad that you had poor luck with water-elm. My experience with them has been pretty much the opposite of yours. I have found the deadwood is surprisingly durable, and here they'll grow like a weed even after you pot them. I've grown them in every style except semi-cascade and cascade; Vaughn Banting had formal and informal uprights, raft, and broom (that I know of). The larger cuts are slow to heal, that's true. I suspect it's where you are, as you noted. The tree does like its dormant period.

Below is a piece of raw material I collected this past February. It's well over 100 years old, and has spent a good deal of its life under water. But you can see where the water level was at one point, as the beavers took advantage of the (surprisingly durable) wood. There's a hollow where this attack happened, but the tree did not rot out in the center as you might expect leaving a tube of living wood. In fact, I've never seen a specimen that was hollowed out. They tend to grow with multiple trunks in the wild, and often one or more of the trunks will die. You'll get a nice hollow at the base, as in the tree above, but the wood is good and sound.

Russell, I've gotten pretty good ramification with my water-elms in just a few years. They do throw branches at odd angles, but I take it in stride. They're just too attractive not to.

Zach




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Re: Water-elm - First Potting

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