What is the best way to start young trees?

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What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  H on Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:57 pm

I have been a gardener for many years, but I am having to re-learn gardening for bonsai. I bought and read several books and numerous articles online. I purchased several trees in 4” cups to get started. Now, one thing I need help with is: do I grow these trees in the ground or in shallow grow boxes, or just a gallon pot? Will the trunk develop in a grow box? A tree growing in the garden will increase the trunk caliper, but all this time, the tap root is growing also. I have always been under the impression that if the tap root is cut off, the plant will not survive transplanting, and the tap root has to go for bonsai. I’m just a little confused on the best way to grow these trees to develop them into bonsai.

H
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Re: What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  JimLewis on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:08 pm

Not all trees have tap roots, though many do.

When we grow in the ground, we often put a flat 12x12 tile a few inches underneath the tree to block an aggressive taproot. A grow box does the same thing. Which you use depends on where you are growing, how large you want it to grow, how patient you are, and of course on what you are growing and your plans for it.

Often a field-grown tree is dug up and rotated every couple of years to balance the potential phototropism that many plants have. A grow box, of course can be lifted and turned. It is somewhat easier to do preliminary shaping (wiring and pruning) on a tree in a grow box than on a tree on the ground -- especially for someone with creaky bones like me. But your tree will grow more slowly in a box.

Your 4-inch plants have a considerable amunt of time ahead of their eventual bonsaihood, even if shohin or mame bonsai are your goal, because you still want trunk girth and taper on the little ones.

So, it depends . . . . . . . . .

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What is the best way to start yound trees?

Post  H on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:43 pm

So, am I correct to assume that the more restricted the roots, the slower the growth of the above ground part of the tree. And, if this is true, then why does everything I have read say that when repotting, go to a slightly larger container? Why not go to a considerably larger container if growth is what you want?

H
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Re: What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  Loke Emil on Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:11 am

H wrote:So, am I correct to assume that the more restricted the roots, the slower the growth of the above ground part of the tree. And, if this is true, then why does everything I have read say that when repotting, go to a slightly larger container? Why not go to a considerably larger container if growth is what you want?

Hi H

...to obtain a dense and shallow rootball full of feeder roots, a slightly larger container is enough between repottings/root pruning because of back budding of new feeder roots close to the trunk. Generally the roots should never be restricted in any way in the pot. Too large a container tends to get less controllable regarding control of nutriens, water, air, protection from winter dehydration, birds, bugs etc.

Or too large containers are simply a waste of expencive fertilisers, soils, energy...and they tend to get so damn heavy too ;-)

Regards to you
/Loke Emil

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What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  H on Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:39 am

Thanks, Jim and Loke. I am getting there. When I read all the information on bonsai, it never explains the why, so I come to y'all to ask all these questions. I am a newby, and I will be back with more of these fundamental questions. I have finally gotten over the need to repot, prune, and defoliate. I think I am finally making progress. Thanks.

H
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Re: What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  John Quinn on Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:14 am

Although bonsai requires patience from everyone, if all you have to wait on is plants in 4 inch pots, I think your patience and interest will wane before you have anything that will allow you to do even preliminary 'bonsai' work on. Keep those plants growing but consider buying some larger material ("pre-bonsai" or even sutiable garden center material) that you may have a chance to work on in the near future. Don't stop reading books.
See also THIS and the many other fine articles on Brent's site.

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What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  H on Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:53 am

Is a one gallon plant a pre-bonsai size or does it need to be larger? I like the maples and crabapples. I don't care for the junipers, and I know in the landscape, they don't recover well from pruning, but that must not be the case with bonsai because there are a lot of them out there.

H
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Re: What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  AlanS on Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:16 am

I am still a newbie with only a year under my belt but the way I understand it is planting them in the ground is the fastest way to develop girth and taper. I started with the same material as yourself and a year on they still look pretty much the same mainly due to realising that was not the best way to get a good start and I headed straight for the nearest bonsai nursery and purchased three cheap semi trained material :D
I highly recommend these sites for anyone starting out

www.bonsai4me.com
www.evergreengardenworks.com

Sorry they are not links but I am a new user and can't post them yet

Evergreen has a great article on trunk development
Alan
[url][/url]

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What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  H on Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:56 am

Thanks, Alan. I read the Evergreen article, and parts of it are actually beginning to make sense while other parts are still confusing. My nearest bonsai nursery is an hour and a half away, but I think it will be worth it for me to make the trip to purchase a tree-in-training as you suggested. Thanks.

H
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Re: What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  AlanS on Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:54 am

My nearest one is about an hour away but was certainly worth the trip as I learnt so much in one day from good advice from the people there.

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Re: What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  JimLewis on Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:26 pm

H wrote:Thanks, Alan. I read the Evergreen article, and parts of it are actually beginning to make sense while other parts are still confusing. My nearest bonsai nursery is an hour and a half away, but I think it will be worth it for me to make the trip to purchase a tree-in-training as you suggested. Thanks.

"Central Georgia" covers a big area, but Bonsai By the Monastery shouldn't be too far from you. Monastery of the Holy Spirit off Highway 212 in Conyers, Georgia.



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What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  H on Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:56 pm

Jim, I am actually in west central Georgia, but I have been to the nursery at the Monastery and bought a bonsai from them. Being a newbie, when I got it home I had to do something with it, so I took it out of the pot and the roots were thick and circling inside the pot. I pruned them even though it was the middle of summer. It is surviving, but not thriving. Hopefully, next spring, it will be better. There is also a bonsai nursery in Marietta, just above Atlanta, which is also an hour and a half away that I want to go to. I think that is the place I can talk to someone about bonsai. Have you ever been to the one in Flat Rock, NC? That would be a good fall weekend trip for me.

H
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Re: What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  JimLewis on Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:16 pm

There are nurseries in Flat Rock (which is just 10 miles northwest of me), but none carry bonsai to the best of my knowledge.

However, a good fall weekend trip for you will be to the Carolina Bonsai Expo which is Oct. 8-9 at the NC Arboretum in Asheville. Lots of great trees, many vendors selling plant and pots, workshops, demos, auctions, etc.

See: www.ncarboretum.org

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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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What is the best way to start young trees?

Post  H on Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:30 pm

Thanks for the info. Workshops are what I desperately need.

H
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