New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

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New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:10 pm

I'm pretty new to bonsai, and I've been doing a fair amount of research, as well as gathering some material to work on. A couple of weeks ago, a collected this really nice American Elm, and it has since recovered from it's potting and has starting back budding like crazy. There are so many, that it's hard to find them. Anyway, I've been trying to think of a way to style this tree, that way I have a general plan in place.



This tree is actually tilted on it's side, and everything to the left of the shorter trunk, was actually a very large taproot that I didn't want to remove. It has a lot of motion and some very nice roots, but I'm not exactly sure what to do with the shoots that will soon emerge. There are so many possibilities that I'm very indecisive. What do you guys think?

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  Poink88 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:23 pm

WELCOME!!!

That's a nice tree. If it is just potted, I would suggest you transfer it in a bigger "training" pot first to help it recover and develop better branches faster. (EDIT: just read that it was 2 weeks in and budding already...just remember this for next time then)

Also read about soil...what you have there looks very fine. Bonsai usually uses rough, fast draining soil. I mostly use Turface MVP now amended with; pine bark, sphagnum moss, or potting soil depending on the plant.

Styling will come later...just keep it alive for now.


Last edited by Poink88 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:30 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  flor1 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:29 pm

Get in a bigger pot and let it set for at least a year. Trees hold a certain amount of energy once thats gone most die. Cover the root to the left while your at it. Can be a nice tree but will take time.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:50 pm

Poink88 wrote:WELCOME!!!

That's a nice tree. If it is just potted, I would suggest you transfer it in a bigger "training" pot first to help it recover and develop better branches faster. (EDIT: just read that it was 2 weeks in and budding already...just remember this for next time then)

Also read about soil...what you have there looks very fine. Bonsai usually uses rough, fast draining soil. I mostly use Turface MVP now amended with; pine bark, sphagnum moss, or potting soil depending on the plant.

Styling will come later...just keep it alive for now.

Thanks a lot. I'm curious, why do you think it would need a larger pot? I think my picture might not have done much to show scale, but the "pot" I have it is actually a large tray that you would put under a garden pot to collect water. It's circular, about 2 feet wide, and maybe 3 inches deep. I drilled holes in it, that way the water would drain out fairly easily.

Also, the soil is a mixture of the sandy soil that I collected it from, some pine bark and some potting soil. I know that bonsai tend to grow in coarser soil, but this tree was growing in almost pure sand, and I didn't want to shock it by transferring it into a completely different substrate. I thought I could probably upgrade it to something coarser, when it goes dormant next year, but IDK.

BTW, I'm not arguing or anything, just trying to explain the situation, and to get a little more advice.

Also, do you think it would be possible to lift the tree out of the pot and amend the soil(with something like some cat litter or small stone) without harming the tree. I wouldn't have to do any damage to the roots, as I would just be picking it up and brushing off some of the soil.

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American elm

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:29 pm

I'm afraid you don't understand. Get that tree into a big, deep training pot or plant it in the ground, now. Don't worry too much about the soil. It needs to recover for about a year. Just because it is budding doesn't mean it has recovered. Talk about styling next year.
Iris

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:54 pm

bonsaisr wrote:I'm afraid you don't understand. Get that tree into a big, deep training pot or plant it in the ground, now. Don't worry too much about the soil. It needs to recover for about a year. Just because it is budding doesn't mean it has recovered. Talk about styling next year.
Iris

May I ask why it needs to be in a deeper pot? When I collected it, I was careful about retaining a large chunk of feeder roots that were attached to the back of the trunk.

Also, my question about styling was more about whether I should just let it go, or if I should try to control some of the shoots that it is sending out.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  Ingvar Nilsson on Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:09 am

PeacefulAres wrote:
bonsaisr wrote:I'm afraid you don't understand. Get that tree into a big, deep training pot or plant it in the ground, now. Don't worry too much about the soil. It needs to recover for about a year. Just because it is budding doesn't mean it has recovered. Talk about styling next year.
Iris

May I ask why it needs to be in a deeper pot? When I collected it, I was careful about retaining a large chunk of feeder roots that were attached to the back of the trunk.

Also, my question about styling was more about whether I should just let it go, or if I should try to control some of the shoots that it is sending out.

I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I know of one. Walter Pall has written several times that he plants newly collected trees in the smalles possible container, so I think youre OK wit what you got. But he also uses a much airier planting medium than you are. You might want to redo the potting with another substrate.

Most advice I've seen says to let a newly collected tree rest for minimum one growing season to regain strength before working the top.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  Rob Kempinski on Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:31 am

Hello Peaceful,

I see you are from Florida, and if you collected this from Florida perhaps it is the Florida variant of the American Elm, Ulms Americanna Floridana. If so, your soil medium is fine for this tree. It likes a lot of water and adding water retaining material (organic or fine sand) would be good for the tree.
I would leave it alone for a year and let it grow wild. I'd try to put the pot on the ground and let the roots find the drain holes and escape into the ground. This will speed up the leader development. I would cover the soil with a thick layer of sphagnum moss to keep the top surface of those roots wet, or put it in a deep pot to accomplish the same thing.

This is one of mine


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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:46 am

Thanks a lot.

I know most people leave their trees to establish themselves for some time, before working. This tree seems to be pretty happy and is back budding all over the place. I just wasn't sure if I should let all of the new shoots develop, of if I should remove some they grow, to help find an overall design for the tree.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  Poink88 on Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:13 am

Without a scale and description on your OP...I assumed (and most probably) that the container is a "bonsai pot". We are mistaken. Now you are asking us to give you styling advise as to which buds to keep...but you provided a totally leafless picture! Help us help you by giving scale, current pic, and other pertinent information. You will receive better answers that way.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  Ryan on Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:23 am

I wouldn't worry about styling or cutting anything off for at least a year.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  drgonzo on Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:29 am

I have some experience dealing with American Elm (northern version) and I can echo Rob's advice. It will be fine, just leave it alone and practice how healthy you can keep it. The need for a larger container is due to the fact that as trees extend new growth they also extend roots. More root room=more top growth. To be honest you could still get away with slip potting it into something bigger to allow the tree more room to grow and recover. The Elms I have collected did OK in potting soil as Rob mentions they love the moisture. They thrived in Turface as most things do. They will re-root from collection easily. Very vigorous, strong, and rewarding species to work with. Think big as the leaves don't reduce as well as one would hope!

nice find I would have dug it up too.
-Jay

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:33 am

Poink88 wrote:Without a scale and description on your OP...I assumed (and most probably) that the container is a "bonsai pot". We are mistaken. Now you are asking us to give you styling advise as to which buds to keep...but you provided a totally leafless picture! Help us help you by giving scale, current pic, and other pertinent information. You will receive better answers that way.

Most of the buds are pretty small at the moment. They're starting to emerge all of the length of the tree. I can take some more pics once the buds start to mature a bit more, but right now, this is all I have. As for styling advice, I was wondering if there was a particular style that you think would be more beneficial to the shape of this tree?

drgonzo wrote:I have some experience dealing with American Elm (northern version) and I can echo Rob's advice. It will be fine, just leave it alone and practice how healthy you can keep it. The need for a larger container is due to the fact that as trees extend new growth they also extend roots. More root room=more top growth. To be honest you could still get away with slip potting it into something bigger to allow the tree more room to grow and recover. The Elms I have collected did OK in potting soil as Rob mentions they love the moisture. They thrived in Turface as most things do. They will re-root from collection easily. Very vigorous, strong, and rewarding species to work with. Think big as the leaves don't reduce as well as one would hope!

nice find I would have dug it up too.
-Jay

Thanks for the explanation. I was worried that I might be doing some kind of harm to this tree by putting it in this pot. Maybe I'll take some more pics tomorrow, to properly display the orientation of the pot. The front is fairly empty, as the big roots didn't have much in the way of feeders, except for at the ends. I think it has some room to send out new roots, but I'll keep my eye on it.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  Fore on Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:30 am

That is a great find Peacefulares! And if that Elm is like mine, they seem to be indestructible! lol I'd keep it in that pot and leave it alone for a yr.

And great advice Jay. I'll add 20-30% pine bark to my mix now. I grabbed a couple of Elms that the neighbor tore up and threw in the trash pile last fall. They are alive and well in a 5 gal pots. I used potting soil as the original dirt was kinda sand rich soil. So I am going to repot into a smaller pot, new substrate..... hoping in a mos or so now! (Come on spring!) Very Happy


drgonzo wrote:I have some experience dealing with American Elm (northern version) and I can echo Rob's advice. It will be fine, just leave it alone and practice how healthy you can keep it. The need for a larger container is due to the fact that as trees extend new growth they also extend roots. More root room=more top growth. To be honest you could still get away with slip potting it into something bigger to allow the tree more room to grow and recover. The Elms I have collected did OK in potting soil as Rob mentions they love the moisture. They thrived in Turface as most things do. They will re-root from collection easily. Very vigorous, strong, and rewarding species to work with. Think big as the leaves don't reduce as well as one would hope!

nice find I would have dug it up too.
-Jay

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  coh on Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:28 pm

PeacefulAres wrote:Thanks a lot.

I know most people leave their trees to establish themselves for some time, before working. This tree seems to be pretty happy and is back budding all over the place. I just wasn't sure if I should let all of the new shoots develop, of if I should remove some they grow, to help find an overall design for the tree.
I think someone else mentioned stored energy...it's not unusual for trees that are cut to push buds based on the stored energy - so that's not really a sign of "happiness" (think of hardwood cuttings that will push out buds/leaves without any roots). I don't know how much of a feeder root system you were able to dig up with this tree, but it will really need to be allowed to just grow for at least a year so that the root system can re-establish. The energy provided by the leaves will move that process along...any cutting you do this season will slow the process down.

Looks like nice material - I have no experience with American elm but would like to obtain one...

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  JimLewis on Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:29 pm

Fertilize heavily.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:10 pm

I have a bunch of old clay bricks that I'm not using for anything. Do you guys think that I could crushed them down into small bits and replace some of the soil in the pot without hurting the tree? It would only be out of the pot for a few minutes and it's roots would still be moist/covered in soil.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  tap pi lu on Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:03 am

I think your tree will look like this
[img][/img][img][/img]

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:26 pm

Ok, so a lot of the buds are starting to grow now, but I'm not exactly sure how to handle it. It was mentioned that I should let the tree grow unimpeded, but I've noticed that some most of the buds are growing in clusters like this:


I'm wondering if the plan should still be to let the tree grow "wild." Would it be better for the tree to let them all develop, or should I remove some before they get too big?

Edit: All in all, I counted 64 buds on this tree, though there may be a few that I missed.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  JimLewis on Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:56 pm

They're not hurting the tree. Let 'em be.

Can you modify your profile to indicate where in Florida you are? Florida ranges from zone 8 (winter hard freezes) to zone 11 (what freeze?), and our advice to you will be more accurate if we know.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

Post  PeacefulAres on Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:13 pm

JimLewis wrote:They're not hurting the tree. Let 'em be.

Can you modify your profile to indicate where in Florida you are? Florida ranges from zone 8 (winter hard freezes) to zone 11 (what freeze?), and our advice to you will be more accurate if we know.

Alright. I wasn't sure if letting them all grow would slow the development down. I did edit my profile to indicate what part of Florida I am from. Apparently, I am in zone 10a, and yeah, nothing ever freezes down here.

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Re: New to bonsai, need advice for styling American elm.

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