Wee Azalea

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Wee Azalea

Post  Jesse McMahon on Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:29 pm

I purchased this at a Lowe's garden centre last year. Somebody had made a slip with a knife or something and it was marked at $3, looking a little the worse for wear. Unfortunately I didn't even think to get a picture of it when it came home. Last spring I repotted it from the one Gal. nursery container it came in and did a major root reduction and removal of all the old soil, etc. (Again, not thinking ahead to take a picture before I started the work) Over the winter it was nice enough to put a single bud onto its frame and I just couldn't bring myself to take it off. Yesterday it decided the time was right to show me a little taste of things to come...hope you enjoy.













Sorry about some of the shadows and the quality of the lighting. It's the best that could be done today.

As Rowland Alston might say: 'Happy Gardening, everybody!'

Jesse McMahon
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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  Glaucus on Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:18 pm

The trunk looks pretty old. Be sure to let it regain some vigor during the growing season.

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  Jesse McMahon on Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:36 pm

Thanks for the good advice! My current plan is to feed it plenty and just let it grow, with some pruning back to keep it in shape. Looking forward to watching the foliage fill out more over the summer.

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  xuan le on Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:31 pm

Very nice Azalea, the second picture looks good as a front for this small tree

Xuan

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  Jesse McMahon on Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:00 pm

Thank you, Xuan. Many steps to go, but I believe one day this will make a nice little tree.

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  jgeanangel on Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:46 pm

Jesse McMahon wrote:

As Rowland Alston might say: 'Happy Gardening, everybody!'

That man is a bane to bonsai and should probably never be mentioned on this site again...

Well..I'm kind of half joking but also mostly serious... and I realize that most likely you have never seen the episodes of his show about bonsai or you to would feel the way I do.

He has done two pathetic shows on BONZAI...both were horribly misinformed...and gave terrible impressions as to what bonsai is... The first was a show about a man that grew BONZAI in his house (junipers and maples) that were nothing more than mallsai.....and looked terrible. It truly did more disservice through its misinformation to the hobby than anything else. I contacted Mr. Alston and his producer in an effort to get some better content about bonsai on the show and it fell on completely deaf ears... Last season they had another person on talking about bonsai...a man that owns some kind of nursery and sells mostly crap at flower shows and such...I am sure he was well-intended but again the misinformation that was spewed was appalling.

As to your azalea...I am glad it is blooming for you! I am not sure what you envision for the future but I wonder if it wouldn't benefit from being put back into a nursery container with a good nursery soil, or the ground, to rebuild some strength and vigor. It really needs much more foliage in order to remain a healthy and vigorous plant.

John

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  Jesse McMahon on Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:55 pm

I certainly didn't intend any disrespect by invoking the name...I just like the sentiment of happy gardening.

As for the azalea I was hoping to get the branches that are there to develop some ramification and make some nice compact little canopies. When I first saw this little guy I had a vision that if you could get some density it would look like a nice old tree leaning out and over a pond or something. (AKA slanting style) If I'm attempting something that's not the best option, or if my vision for this tree is something that might need a different care regime, I'm certainly open to advice or ideas. I'm just doing the best I can to follow my vision for this tree with the skills and knowledge I have.

John, I've had the pleasure of seeing a little of your work in person and a few others on videos. I have respect for your talents in the realm of bonsai and if you're willing to take the time to offer me some input I'm willing to consider anything you have to tell me. Thanks for the reply.

Best wishes,
Jesse

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  Orion on Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:54 pm

I agree with Xuan on the second pic. It seems like it takes a nice natural flow.

Keep it healthy, keep a record of its progression and keep us updated.

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  lordy on Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:43 am

Nice little azalea. I do agree with John about planting it in the ground for several years. Unfortunately they dont grow very quickly, so the ground is where it needs to be to add some size and vigor. I lifted one from the ground about 10 years ago, and it has possibly doubled in size in a pot in 10 years with no pruning. It's still spindly. I should listen to my own advice...

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  jgeanangel on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:27 am

Jesse McMahon wrote:I certainly didn't intend any disrespect by invoking the name...I just like the sentiment of happy gardening.

John, I've had the pleasure of seeing a little of your work in person and a few others on videos. I have respect for your talents in the realm of bonsai and if you're willing to take the time to offer me some input I'm willing to consider anything you have to tell me. Thanks for the reply.

Best wishes,
Jesse

Hey Jesse...no disrespect at all...I figured you most likely had no idea about his shows...A lot of people in SC watch his shows...I wish he would do a show on the NC arboretum bonsai collection.

Thank you for your kind words...this is probably going to sound contrary to other advice given about trees on this forum, but I have about 150 small azaleas similar to what you have posted that I have been working on for several years. I need to do some video updates as many I have featured previously are really coming along nicely now.

My best advice is to come to the realization that your azalea is still in training and as such perhaps it needs to go into some good nursery soil....I use Fafard 3b...basically it is peat, perlite and pine bark. Most nursery growers in this area use pine bark and sand with great results as well. In my experience these little plants grow and develop much faster in a more forgiving soil than bonsai soil...the volumn of your pot is probably similar to what a lot of mine are in. Mine get morning sun only. To encourage more foliage I totally forget about any flowers during the development stage and prune 3-4 times during the growing season....there will be lots of time for flowers later. This near constant pruning forces lots of buds and growth. Typically, once it starts growing I will just kind of hedge prune...prune for the shape of the canopy I want. Once I get a nice thick canopy, lots of foliage, I go back in and prune with an eye toward developing tapering branches...eliminate everything else that is not part of a branch that will be kept in the final design.

In about 3-4 growing seasons you can really develop some pretty nice little trees using this method. Once the tree is at the point where I feel like the develop stage is over and I want to begin maintaining I will put the tree into a bonsai pot with bonsai soil that is still pretty high in organic material...typically pinebark, turface and gravel.

The other thing I would do is buy about 10 more of these...you would significantly increase your chances of developing a couple really nice little trees...try to find ones with a good trunk and surface roots...removing everything else, reduce the root ball by 50-60% and begin them from scratch. you will be amazed by how fast you they will develop!!! Use the ugly ones as gifts for friends.

I hope you find this helpful...good luck with your tree!
John

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  jgeanangel on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:40 am

lordy wrote:Nice little azalea. I do agree with John about planting it in the ground for several years. Unfortunately they dont grow very quickly, so the ground is where it needs to be to add some size and vigor. I lifted one from the ground about 10 years ago, and it has possibly doubled in size in a pot in 10 years with no pruning. It's still spindly. I should listen to my own advice...


I think you need to prune...pruning stimulates growth...generally every branch tip that you prune results in two more...thus doubling your foliage tips...prune 3-4 times in a growing season...maybe 2-3 where you live and you can image the results.

I bet you can get far more growth in one to two season with regular pruning than you did in ten years of not pruning....This advice is based on the assumption that you have a healthy and reasonably vigorous plant...if it is weak from being in a pot or bonsai soil for ten years get it in more forgiving soil one way or another first...once it responds with new growth and vigor then start the pruning.

John


Last edited by jgeanangel on Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:54 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  lordy on Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:42 pm

jgeanangel wrote:
lordy wrote:Nice little azalea. I do agree with John about planting it in the ground for several years. Unfortunately they dont grow very quickly, so the ground is where it needs to be to add some size and vigor. I lifted one from the ground about 10 years ago, and it has possibly doubled in size in a pot in 10 years with no pruning. It's still spindly. I should listen to my own advice...


I think you need to prune...pruning stimulates growth...generally every branch tip that you prune results in two more...thus doubling your foliage tips...prune 3-4 times in a growing season...maybe 2-3 where you live and you can imaging the results.

I bet you can get far more growth in one to two season with regular pruning than you did in ten years of not pruning....This advice is based on the assumption that you have a healthy and reasonably vigorous plant...if it is weak from being in a pot or bonsai soil for ten years get it in more forgiving soil one way or another first...once it responds with new growth and vigor then start the pruning.

John
I appreciate the tips. It is nearly in bloom now, so I will enjoy those and prune after the blooms go by.

lordy
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Re: Wee Azalea

Post  Glaucus on Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:25 pm

If you don't prune you get the typical azalea growth habit. I describe it in my last article on my site. In the end you will have to cut away this growth completely for your final bonsai design.

As for repotting this azalea, if you don't want the trunk to get fatter, is it really needed? Yes, this one is a bit sparce on foliage and one should consider not pruning away too much of it, but it seems to me it can grow plenty of new foliage in this pot, which isn't really small at all.

If you cut the growing tips you induce backbudding while only pruning away small leaves and new shoots. One can let it grow for a year or two without much harm, I would think. But letting it grow for 10 years doesn't sound like a good idea.

I wonder how an azalea looks like after 10 years without pruning. Pruning only a little but very selectively on an azalea trunk you want to fatten up quite largely is fine of course and that may take 10 years or longer. Reminds me of this picture:
http://jabon.asia/beaf/files/2012/04/22a0e005f5afbe1ce00575efecd43484.jpg

http://jabon.asia is a new site launched by Japanese satsuki bonsai people. I am interested to see in how much content they will be adding.

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