What shape would compliment this azalea

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What shape would compliment this azalea

Post  katsols on Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:45 pm

This azalea doesn't have a straight continuous trunk, but it does have a smaller branch going up from the middle. And it leans to the side





should i wire the branches and bend them downwards?
maybe something like this?

sorry for bad picture lol i tried.
I'm just worried of breaking branches.




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Re: What shape would compliment this azalea

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:55 am


From the nursery of Kunio Kobayashi near Tokyo, japan

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Re: What shape would compliment this azalea

Post  katsols on Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:35 am

that one is beautiful billy Very Happy

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Re: What shape would compliment this azalea

Post  marcus watts on Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:09 am

nice picture Bill, and the material could be clipped to follow that line quite easily,

but to be a little fairer it should be said the tree in your picture will have been field or box grown for about 40-50 years with repeated growth and removal of many low sacrifice branches and much root work over those years. Once the trunk had the required size just about every branch would have been cut off and grown from scratch again, over 7-10 years at least. Probably one of the slowest bonsai types to try and form at home, really within our adult lifetimes the only way to achieve a large tapered azalea trunk is to buy one -

To make a small bonsai azalea with any nice movement it is easier to start with a tall thin whip, wire it and put the first 45 deg imeadiately above the roots. Add a few more curves then just keep growing and cutting off all the branches until you are happy with the trunk. The tree in this thread would benefit from all the thick branches taking off, maybe keeping just one a little longer as a trunk extension. What it needs then is a new crop of branches sprouting from low down to work with.

cheers Marcus

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Re: What shape would compliment this azalea

Post  Glaucus on Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:27 am

This particular cultivar doesn't seem to be one that backbuds well. You have all the branches growing from one point. That doesn't help with growing taper. You need a sacrificial branch below this whirl because otherwise you can't thicken up the trunk so all the whirl stumps get scarred over properly.
Oh in the first picture I actually do see a trunk that can be sacrificial. You want to grow that one as big as the trunk is now. And the trunk you want to double in thickness. Then you can decide what to do next.


In the picture you have drawn you drew a straight trunk. Then you make a circle that has a bigger diameter than the trunk. And from there all these branches come. That's not what you want with a bonsai.

I think I wouldn't have selected this trunk through it certainly isn't useless. But what I would do is select one of those branches as the future trunk. Then select one branch that will be sacrificial. One that is lower on the whirl than all the others is best. Then you want to get rid of everything else at that spot because it will create reverse taper. Cut some off straight away. Others cut back to the last leaves and remove later. You don't want roots to die back and once you cut a branch back to the last leaves, it will take some time before it has so many leaves it will have to thicken up again. So it won't do any damage.
All very thin branches you can leave on anyway.
Then you can just sow off the lower 2/3rds of the root ball. You want most of the root system to develop off roots that grow sideways out of the trunk near the surface. This is the first step to achieving that.

Azalea branches are very brittle. Once they start to resist bending, if you apply more force, they will suddenly break.


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Re: What shape would compliment this azalea

Post  katsols on Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:22 pm

Ok so what I need to do is keep that sacrificial branch and pick another as trunk extension and then keep cutting off the rest of the branches?and wire it a bit. Would the azalea be healthy with such a small amount of leaves on it?
edit: the nursery where I got this azalea from told me this is an improved hardier faster growing version of kurume hybrid coral bells.

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Re: What shape would compliment this azalea

Post  Glaucus on Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:35 pm

The point is that you want to slow down branches that can't be allowed to grow any thicker. Especially the ones you want to remove anyway.

You grow the trunk only at this part. You may have to wire the branch you select as the future trunk and move it in a slightly different place.

The spokewheel you have no you need to get rid off. The branches need to be removed and eventually it needs to grow so fat all those scars get grown over.
Removing leaves is no problem. Removing leaves will slow down growth. Azalea can sometimes die back so you are always safe when you remove all but 1 or 2 pair of leaves. You don't want the roots to a big branch to die because the sap flow stops because there are no more leaves that keep going the sap flow.

So select one. See if any of the whirl branches will help fatten up the branch you selected as the trunk.
Then remove a few branches completely and cut back the others. The biggest one is probably best to just but back. You saw that azalea bonsai pruning video. You can see he cuts back branches to a few leaves first. You can also see him remove completely branches that got pruned back hard a year earlier. Very thin branches are fine to keep. Don't prune them. You want their leaves.
No real need to really prune the branches of the new trunk leader. You do want to select a single trunk at the next point it splits up eventually.


This looks like a typical kurume, one pretty much in the middle of both R.kiusianum and R.kaempferi. The leaves are rounded, but still a bit elongated. The growth is compact, but not as apical dominant as R.kaempferi. The kaempferi genes will make kurume azalea hardier and grow faster. R.kiusianum is slower growing and not as winter hardy.
'Coral Bells' is a Japanese cultivar and most Japanese kurume cultivar were not very winter hardy. The place where they grow is on the same latitude as North Africa and on an island. The species R.kiusianum grows above 1200 meters so its colder there, but when they are covered under snow the snows actually protects them.
In Europe and colder parts of the US we had to breed new cultivar from the Japanese ones that are hardy. In Europe we have many many very hardy kurume type hybrids.
In the US they have more bigger flowering cultivar based on species besides R.kaempferi and R.kiusianum.

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Re: What shape would compliment this azalea

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