Introduction and a quick question

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Introduction and a quick question

Post  kmeng on Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:00 pm

Hello all!
I am new to the forum and new to bonsai. I went to a nursery recently and saw some "mall-sai's" that really perked my interest in bonsai. Everywhere I read not to buy one b/c they are usually unhealthy and will die off. Plus Bonsai is about the patience as much if not more so than the art. That being said, I went down to another local nursery and bought a japanese boxwood and I got one from a family friend that hasn't planted it in the ground yet. I have ordered a few books and are waiting for them to arrive. My question in short is, when is the best time do heavy pruning on the boxwoods? I live in zone 7b/8a Can I prune one of them all the way back down to the main trunk and start the branching from scratch? I have some poor pictures from my cell phone, I will upload them soon. One tree has 1 trunk that splits into 3 (left, right, and back center). The other has 2/3 trunks, the main on is pretty fat the other one is slender but has a really funky curve to it (this is the one that was given to me) I haven't been able to really look at the second one b/c it was dark when I recieved it.

Thanks for any help and advice!
Kurt

kmeng
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  JimLewis on Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:26 pm

Boxwoods will take an amazing amount of torture, witness their most common use as hedge plants, and as the basic forms for topiary.

That said, the fall and early winter is not the ideal time to do much chopping on any plant. You will be happier in the long term if you spend that time of year studying your plants and planning what you will do to them in early February or March.

And, welcome to bonsai and to the IBC!

JimLewis
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pics

Post  kmeng on Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:54 pm

This is the boxwood I picked up from the nursery. It has 1 main trunk, split into 3.



This is the second tree which was given to me. I couldnt take a full pic b/c it was dark but it has a very interesting trunk.




kmeng
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  kmeng on Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:59 pm



This a better look at the trunks further up into the tree.

Thanks for any advice or comments

kmeng
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  JimLewis on Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:29 pm

Your nursery tree has some potential, though probably as a much smaller bonsai than it now is as a shrub because the trunk is quite thin (and long). On the plus side, the trunk is thin enough that you can wire some movement into it, and those exposed roots mean it can be planted a bit deeper, both tasks serving to shorten it a bit. In the picture below, the top still needs considerable thinning so you can see the branch structure.






Your other plant is so tangled, with partially grown-together trunks and thick branches going off every which way, that I'd guess that making anything out of will be quite difficult. So many of those thick branches will have to be cut away that the trunk scars will be visible for years.

_________________
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: Introduction and a quick question

Post  kmeng on Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:29 pm

I was thinking the second tree, would be a bit of the struggle. It appears to have 2 main trunks one with a low trunk/branch coming out twards the larger one. I was thinking about cutting out that one and trying to make it a two trunk, styling it like a live oak (which I am very fond of) especially with all of the long branches coming out of it. Or possibly cutting out the 2nd trunk all together b/c the large trunk has some nice bend to it. Again, I haven't gotten a chance to really look at it b/c of daylight savings time and working an hour from home.

kmeng
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  coh on Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:51 pm

Hard to tell on the photo of the second plant, but it looks like the main surface roots are buried...so you don't really know what you have there. Is it 2 separate plants, do the trunks merge below the surface, how much trunk is buried below the soil? Probably the first step will be to unpot it in the spring and investigate to see what's there.

On the first one...not sure how much movement can be put into that trunk. In my limited experience (one similarly sized plant), boxwoods branches and trunks become very stiff even when fairly small. I'm guessing you might want to cut it back even further than Jim indicated and then deal with (wire etc) the new growth that develops. And maybe leave that lowest branch to help thicken the lower part of the trunk.

Chris

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Off topic

Post  kmeng on Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:46 am

I have been reading the bonsai book I recieved the other day and I am really interested in doing a trident maple. I want to do cuttings about a 2" caliper. The book explains that the cuttings can be taken during late winter. How should I go about taking cuttings? There are plenty of younger tridents growing around my house (2 1/2 miles of woods along a lake) that would make great sources for both cuttings and plucking them out of the ground. But again being new to this hobby, would this be ill advised? If not, what type of medium should I use for the root growth to form (the book says sharp sand), again I'm in USDA zone 7b/8a.

Sorry to go off topic, I just feel so overwhelmed with excitement Very Happy

Thaanks!

kmeng
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  drgonzo on Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:13 am

I would recommend you purchase a Trident Maple bonsai, they're readily available, and learn how to keep it alive before you begin cloning them. Maples aren't beginners trees, More like intermediate. Better maybe to start with ficus, and you can clone the devil out of them.

next I would advise you learn how to clone. Try easy things like Willows and Ivy's, ficus's, heck try some cuttings off your boxwood. Cloning is an art its NOT easy and takes a LOT of practice to figure out a workable system.

I would also make sure those are indeed Tridents your seeing around your house, the tree is not native to North America and was introduced in the 1890's.

I know (believe me) what its like to get the first rushes of Bonsai fever, but slow down, breathe my friend, it will all come in time. Buy a few starter trees to learn to take care of them, check out Bonsai west or Hollow creek bonsai for trees. There are trees in every price range. My first real Bonsai was a Chinese Elm from Hollow creek, not expensive, and she's still here with me 4 years later.
-Jay
also what book is it your reading that states you can root 2 inch thick Trident maple cuttings, I'd like to read that myself! I didn't know they were THAT easy to root!

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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  JimLewis on Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:13 pm

I kinda echo Jay's thoughts -- though I almost never recommend that one should purchase a pre-made bonsai; there's little learning to be done that way.

Cuttings are a decent way to create small bonsai, though I think a 2-inch cutting is a bit much, even for an easily-rooted trident. One quarter to one-half inch cuttings are probably the better approach -- especially if you are new to the process. Check out the articles at www.evergreengardenworks.com for information on the process itself.

There are plenty of younger tridents growing around my house (2 1/2 miles of woods along a lake) that would make great sources for both cuttings and plucking them out of the ground.

Unless you own the property in question, there are ethical issues involved in clipping off cuttings and especially in "plucking" them. You need to get permission from the landowner. And I too wonder if the trees in question are trident maples. While they do occasionally spread, they are not considered to be an invasive exotic.

_________________
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: Introduction and a quick question

Post  Dave Murphy on Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:52 pm

Matt at Kaedebonsai sells trident maple seedlings, as well as other species used for bonsai. Check out his website.
http://kaedebonsai.com/

Dave Murphy
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  kmeng on Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:05 pm

Thanks for all of the advice! I went ahead and ordered a trident from KaedeBonsai, for $8 so if something goes wrong it wont be too much of a loss. I will wait and work on the box's come springtime and keep you guys updated! I'm sure I will have lots of other questions coming in the future.

Thanks again!
Kurt

kmeng
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  Dave Murphy on Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:55 pm

Kurt, the Atlanta Bonsai Society is having its monthly meeting this Sunday, 11/20, 1:30PM at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Ryan Neil is the guest artist, too. You should definately try to make it.

https://sites.google.com/site/atlantabonsaisociety/home

Dave Murphy
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Re: Introduction and a quick question

Post  coh on Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:05 pm

I'd like to add onto Jay's comments and suggest that, if you have a suitable indoor location, a tropical or two can be a good way to start. Get something partially styled if possible, or raw material. The good thing about tropicals is that they can grow year round if the conditions are good, which allows you to learn things like wiring, trimming, etc on an accelerated schedule (to some degree). I've got experience with jaboticaba and brush cherry, which seem to do well under fluorescent lights during the winter. They grow enough to require trimming a couple of times, and wiring at least twice a year. Ficus are supposed to be good too, though I've just started with them and can't really speak from experience there.

That trident seedling is probably going to be really small...probably a single trunk about 1/4 inch in diameter with little branching. It will probably require a couple of years of growth before you can do much to it.

I just saw Dave's post and was reminded that the best thing to do would be to get to a club meeting...people can point you to sources of material that would be appropriate for you. And taking a decent beginners class is probably the best thing, best way to learn is hands-on from someone who knows what they're doing.

Chris

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