Bonsai Tips with Justin Case – Root Cuttings   8 comments

This time of the year is very exciting for me. Repotting starts this weekend. There are also so many things to do right now before Spring gets here. Today was very sunny and dry. Almost like an early spring day. Today was 66 degrees and tomorrow the same. Now is the time to get projects started that will continue on for the next few years, and that means seeds and cuttings. It’s still a little early to start cutting here but elm root cuttings are perfect right now.

Elms are one of the plants that take extremely well from root cuttings. Especially good material can be propagated from elm roots. Elms grow long fleshy roots that actually hjave bark on them under the ground. They do not look like regular roots in that way. many times the roots will be large and twisted into bizarre shapes that translate well to bonsai culture. When repotting elms, trim away the large roots into a bucket of water and when the repotting is done, they can be cut into sections for short stubby thick trunks or left long for future bunjin trees or bent over for cascade shapes. The stubby trunks can be developed into spreading styles and brooms.

The nice thing about elms is that they will push buds from the cut end of the stub. The ring of exposed cambium will push numerous buds in a ring right out of the blunt end. Of course other buds will come after time, but the buds that come from the end should be allowed to grow and elongate to prepare the root for tree culture. Later in the year some of the buds can be pruned away, but getting the root piece strong is paramount in the first few months. In mid summer some of the growing meadium can brushed away so that the root will only grow roots at the end of the base of the stem. This will allow the plant to be put into a bonsai pot later.

All of these elms are developed from root cuttings.

DSC_00130005 DSC_000200021


Today I repotted a contorted elm. It is known as a Camperdown elm. I only cut two large roots from the tree but managed to retain some bottom roots on both and so planted them up in a pot.


These cuttings should take off in a couple months and push new leaves. Will update when that happens.

Just because the weather has been so mild I will plant out this years seeds soon. I will plant some tridents again and also some coral bark maples just to see what they do. The seeds are imbibing as we speak and will go into the ground tomorrow.


Be prepared in the winter and get ready for spring by starting some seeds and taking cuttings…Justin Case.


8 responses to “Bonsai Tips with Justin Case – Root Cuttings

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  1. Do you cold-stratify your trident seeds there? I’m just getting ready to plant some myself and reading mixed things. Thanks!

  2. Those are not Camperdown Elms, unless there is a visible graft joint. Camperdowns do not reproduce via seed or cuttings.

    • Then they will be wych elm trunks. Either way its still a cutting whether grafted or not.

      • Wych elm is the root stock for Camperdown elms, the only way to produce a Camperdown is to graft a mutated cutting off the top of another Camperdown elm. A cutting from the TOP of a Camperdown elm that is rooted without a graft will fail, I am heavily into Camperdown elms. The tallest one known to the internet is on my property.

  3. I will gladly send you mutated Camperdown cuttings for you to try grafting, the sad thing is my neighbors have all planted the seeds in their yard from my Camperdown elm and they do not realize the seeds are going to grow a native Wych elm without any mutated Camperdown effects. Only way to reproduce this tree is to pass the mutated top genetics on to another root stock via grafting. Your cuttings will grow great Wych elms, but if you stick a cutting off the top of a mutated Camperdown elm in the soil it will grow a weak mutated base and the tree will fail. Feel free to email me I can provide a great wealth of information.

    • Thanks, that is very generous. When is the best time to send cuttings? I don’t really have any wych stock to graft them on anyway. I recieved the original elm as a gift from a grower friend.

      • What happened to all these you have potted in the picture above? Your cutting never rooted? I have never tried to sprout a stock to use from seed, but I have tried to purchase Wych elms online with no success…even tried to buy from other countries. They are not native to the US so they are very rare here, we have an enormous Wych elm here in town that is un-tampered and I am not sure why it is here but suspect when someone came through town 100 years ago and planted all these Camperdowns they decided to plant one regular Wych elm.

        I have collected Wych stock to use locally, I find them on the same properties as the Camperdowns so my guess is the mutated tops are producing seeds that blow in the wind and sprout to grow normal Wych elms. Although I study and maintain these trees I am yet to successfully graft a new tree, in my observations I have found one smaller (stunted?) Camperdown in town that was produced using a different species of elm as its root stock. I am unsure the best time to send cuttings but I assume when they are dormant the way they do with fruit tree grafting (I have an apple tree in my yard that grows 4 different species of apples on a single trunk).

        These are very special trees. If I am able to successfully graft one I will certainly Bonsai it, and if you can start them in batches they are worth a fortune they are a supply and demand item. I personally know two people locally that would pay upwards of $500 for one waist high.

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