AZ ash/river birch??

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AZ ash/river birch??

Post  momcat66 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:44 pm

First let me say, I am VERY new to bonsai, so probably know just enough to get me in trouble. I went to a new nursery today and they had a bunch of cheap trees. I brought home an Arizona Ash. It is about 8 feet tall and the trunk at the base is just shy of 4" in diameter. It also has some nice roots. It looked like it would be good for bonsai because of this and because the leaves are fairly small. My question is, should I keep it in the pot until spring, or go ahead and put it in the ground for now? It has roots escaping the bottom holes. I live in Texas, where if you are following the news, is very hot and dry this year. We won't have our first cool snap (cool, NOT cold) until late October. Last year we got 2, maybe 3 hard freezes and rarely snow.

I also bought a river birch, it has lots of suckers at the base, which I'm thinking I will cut off, maybe try to grow. Any recommendations re: those, and same as above. Plant or keep in pot? Or try to pot up one size?

Any and all advice appreciated!!!

momcat66
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AZ Ash/River Birch

Post  bonsaisr on Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:10 am

From the little information I Googled, I don't think Arizona ash, Fraxinus velutina, is a good bonsai candidate. European ash is used for bonsai, but none of the American species are thought to be useful. Besides, the emerald ash borer is coming, so why let yourself in for a doomed tree?
River birch, Betula nigra, may be more appropriate, but it may not be suitable for your hot climate. Before you buy any more trees, locate the nearest bonsai club & find out what they recommend.
Iris

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Re: AZ ash/river birch??

Post  momcat66 on Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:21 am

Yes, the more I research the Arizona ash, the more I think, mmm, maybe not so much. As I already have it, I'm thinking I will go ahead and do a trunk chop in a few months. I hear what you are saying about the birch and our climate, but this nursery had several and they were along a back fence, with some minimal drip irrigation and seemed to do okay. And like I said, I already have it so there's not much to lose.

What do you recommend I do with the suckers? Do you think I could just try to root them?

Thanks for your input!!! I have so much to learn flower

momcat66
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Re: AZ ash/river birch??

Post  Zach Smith on Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:15 am

momcat66 wrote:First let me say, I am VERY new to bonsai, so probably know just enough to get me in trouble. I went to a new nursery today and they had a bunch of cheap trees. I brought home an Arizona Ash. It is about 8 feet tall and the trunk at the base is just shy of 4" in diameter. It also has some nice roots. It looked like it would be good for bonsai because of this and because the leaves are fairly small. My question is, should I keep it in the pot until spring, or go ahead and put it in the ground for now? It has roots escaping the bottom holes. I live in Texas, where if you are following the news, is very hot and dry this year. We won't have our first cool snap (cool, NOT cold) until late October. Last year we got 2, maybe 3 hard freezes and rarely snow.

I also bought a river birch, it has lots of suckers at the base, which I'm thinking I will cut off, maybe try to grow. Any recommendations re: those, and same as above. Plant or keep in pot? Or try to pot up one size?

Any and all advice appreciated!!!
Alas, river birch is not all that good a species for bonsai (or the landscape). Twig, branch and even trunk dieback are common. It seems about 30 years ago they "caught on" as a landscape plant down here in the South, and everybody rushed out to plant them because the bark is lovely and they have the nice birch foliage. But they just don't last. There are other birches that work better for bonsai, though I can't speak to which species might survive in your area. Hornbeam is a member of the birch family, and is a wonderful species for bonsai and easy to grow.

Good luck!

Zach

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Re: AZ ash/river birch??

Post  momcat66 on Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:57 pm

Well shoot, looks like I got a couple of duds for trees huh? Like I said though, they're here now so might as well experiment right? Who knows, maybe I will get insanely lucky. They will at least be confined to pots so can't do much damage. One of the things I was reading about the arizona ash is that it has a short lifespan (about 30 years) but can cause real havoc if you have it planted in the yard and big when it starts dying.

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Re: AZ ash/river birch??

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