Archive for the ‘buds’ Tag

The Branch Graft   1 comment

This maple received an approach graft on April 22. The new graft was the second from a failed first try during the winter which never grew very well. It was an experiment, one which has been logged to never do again. Do grafts in the beginning of the growing season for insured success.

The place where I did the graft was in an area with a sharp bend , but branches , probably growing in the wrong direction had been removed. There were two branch scars in the area in which I wanted to place the graft. To compound matters I also had a scar from the failed attempt some months earlier. One of the scars was off to the side of the graft and one would be directly below the graft. The graft was made and today on inspection it was noticed that the scar below the cut was starting to move significantly. The callus roll was re-energised and it was moving due to the addition of the branch in the area. This can only happen when the area is receiving nutrition from the graft. In other words it has knit.

This was the original graft with the tree tied outside of the pot.

 

 

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This is the second graft with the tree, same tree, tied into the pot.

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The new graft was made over the first one. A sharper downward angle was made on the second graft. The original cut can be seen just above the tie wrap.

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The graft is slathered well with sealant.

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This is what the graft now looks like. There is swelling at the bud base which I intentionally grafted close to the trunk.

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Here is a shot of the wound below the graft showing the swelling roll of material now growing on the old wound. I have had the tree two years and nothing in this area has shown any signs of growth due to there not being a branch around to supply nutrition here.

 

 

 

 

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Here we can see the side wound and how that one is starting to roll too. Both of the buds circled in red are the ones that will ultimately become the future branch. Once ready to cut away from the host plant it will be reduced back to this pair of buds and the new branch grown on from there. In doing this I can control the budding of the future branch by cutting back early and saving buds close to the trunk. This makes a better branch rather than trying to build a branch from a sterile neck with no buds and never will have buds.

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Elm, Gro-Pot to Sho-Pot   5 comments

 

 

Ulmus parvifolia, commonly known as the Chinese elm or Lacebark Elm, is a species native to China, India, Taiwan, Japan, North Korea, and Vietnam. It has been described as “one of the most splendid elms, having the poise of a graceful Nothofagus“. A small to medium deciduous, semi-deciduous (rarely semi-evergreen) tree growing to 10–18 m (30–60 ft) tall and 15-20 m (50-70 ft) wide with a slender trunk and crown. The leathery, lustrous green single-toothed leaves are small, 2–5 cm long by 1–3 cm broad, and often retained as late as December or even January in Europe and North America. The apetalous wind-pollinated perfect flowers are produced in early autumn, small and inconspicuous. The fruit is a samara, elliptic to ovate-elliptic, 10–13 mm long by 6–8 mm broad. The samara is mostly glabrous, the seed at the centre or toward the apex, borne on a stalk 1-3 mm in length; it matures rapidly and disperses by late autumn. The trunk has a handsome, flaking bark of mottled greys with tans and reds, giving rise to its other common name, the Lacebark Elm, although scarring from major branch loss can lead to large canker-like wounds.

Propagation of elms is easy as they develop from roots, cuttings, seed and layers very easily. In this article it is root cuttings that I wish to concentrate on. There is no faster way to develop an elm bonsai. In China elm bonsai are developed from root cutting and developed by the thousands. The S-curve elm seen in bonsai shops around the country as well as the big box store is grown for export only. Somehow the Chinese felt that us westerners liked this movement thing in bonsai. Lucky bamboo caught on and so elms should be styled likewise.

The root cuttings are collected in the winter and sown in plastic pot. As they grow they are switched over to ceramic bonsai pots and they receive the rest of the training in these pots thru shipment to places all over the world. It is hard to comprehend just how many are grown there. These photo’s were smuggled out of China for a friend of mine in the bonsai nursery trade. He has allowed me to share them here.

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At Brussel’s bonsai this would be about the $800.00 stuff

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These on the top shelf would be about $2500.00 at Brussel’s.

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Big commercial nurseries like these in China use lots of pots for export. Most of these come from Lotus Pottery.

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Sorry about the quality of the photo’s but I thought it would be fun to see how this is done on a large-scale in a foreign country.

Now we switch gears and come back to America to see how it is done on a much smaller scale and with a little more intimacy. Up close and personal. All photo’s from now on are by Justin Case. Elms are one of the type of trees that grow well from root cuttings. The new buds emerge right from the cut end of the root. It is this ability that allows one to propagate from roots since interesting shapes and large sizes can be cut from the roots and struck. Traditional cuttings taken from hardwood branches of other trees always yields a rather straight uninteresting start which will always require some sort of chop later to create taper. By starting short elm roots and leaving only the very tip showing from the top of the soil, the start to convincing taper can be created from day one.

During the production of this large cork elm, I reserved this first branch stub since it was pretty large and I wanted to have a larger branch to start with.

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The new shoots came right out of the end of the cut branch and I was able to develop from there.

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Roots are taken from larger elm trees in spring during repotting. The roots are cut away and thrown into a bucket of water to be processed later.

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The roots are taken from the water and trimmed up and cut shorter or planted with long trunks for literati or cascade forms in mind.

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Even Neagari (exposed root) forms can be saved from the tangled roots. These make interesting Penjing subjects or creative shohin.

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Large roots can give a good start to larger trunked specimans and can save years of time. The root may be only a year old but they grow so fast and plump that large tree seem older for the ease of one year old roots.

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Once the roots are planted it becomes a waiting game. Then soon, the small buds begin to appear at the cut ends of the root. they start as small pin pricks of green in the cambium area of the cut end.

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Sometimes the entire cambium ring will turn green, during this time some or most of the buds will be rubbed off to allow one or two to grow strong. These shoots can grow and then leaders chosen later.elmrootcutting

At the end of about three years the tops of the tree should be full of small branches. These should be pruned regularly to keep the plant compact. At the end of three years the plants are separated from each other in the large pot and planted out into clay pots on their own.

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For the next three-years, regular pruning must take place many times during the year. It is very easy for the plants to get out of control and lose the “shohin” feel if they get too leggy.

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The canopies can be hedge pruned to keep up with twiggyness. This is not so much because we are going to keep this ramification, it is because we need the choices for direction since all of the training will be by clip and grow. No wire.

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Continue to prune for shape all year-long.

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By the end of the fourth year they will be ready for a final prune for fall.

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Even after I prune in fall I always get a flush of buds, that’s just the aggressiveness of the species.

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At the start of spring of the fifth year the plants should look like this. All the twigs are cut off and choices for direction had been made in Fall. Now we will begin the canopy for the final product. This is when we will keep new secondaries and begin working on tertiaries.

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Now the leaves come out and we can watch to see what they do and be ready to prune and keep direction. I had only eight to keep me busy but 8 is all I could handle. I wonder how many Chinamen it takes to keep those fields in check?

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After the leaves harden off I cut again for shape. This time I have drilled holes around the soft clay pots for guy wires to ease branches into place for better shape. This works well with elms since they grow wood fast and will keep their shape in a matter of months.

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This is the beginning of the sixth year, The training from hear on out is very light pruning just to fill in the canopies. I selected 8 pots from my shohin pot collection. They are a combination of Chinese and Japanese, some signed pots and a glazed Begei. (bottom left)

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I prepare the pots with screen and wing dings. I bend them like this because I like the purchase the loops have against the pot on the root side.

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Its been six years since the roots were taken and now they will undergo final shaping in the small pots that will slow them down considerably. I need the rest, these 8 have kept me hopping for the last six years.

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Six years from gro-pots to sho-pots. Very fun and very fullfilling. It is a lot of fun to see a project all the way thru from beginning to end.

 

 

 

 

Almost too late   2 comments

I looked over the trees on Friday and had a trip to the coast planned for Sat. The buds on the maples looked good and I felt I had some time to repot. Good…I can go to Santa Cruz on Sat. and repot the maples on Sunday. Got up Sunday and decided they would wait until next weekend. Big Mistake! Never put off to tomorrow what you can do with your lazy ass.

Came home from work today after a 74 degree day after the small rain storm on Friday and Sat. The buds on the tridents had jumped right over the swelling stage and bolted right to the green leaves unfurling stage. No time to lose, move the table into the yard, get the buckets of soil already made and wire for the pot this is “go time”.

The tree was already in a state that need repotting for sure. The tree was pushing the root pad up and out of the pot.

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The tree was unwired from the pot and the whole root pad was lifted from the pot. It was thick as the pot and dense and fiberous. The entire rim of the pad was removed from the tree. In past years I have taken this even shorter to the trunk but this year the nebari is finally improving to the point that cutting back too short means getting into larger roots and I don’t want to disturb those yet.

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This is how short the pad was made this year. At this point it still has a small layer of soil on top and the pad is full thickness, about 1.5 inches.

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I then rake the bottom of the pad to dislodge the roots from the bottom. These are allowed to hang down and then are trimmed flush with the hard bottom of the trunk.

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Now the old soil is raked off and the roots teased for the new soil. At this point the root pad is about 3/4 inch thick. The tree is oriented for aesthetics and then placed directly on the bottom of the pot with out soil. It is wired firmly…I mean firmly, so that it will not push away from the pot. I want all the energy of the first growth spurt to be against a hard surface to get maximum girth on the roots around the tree and to swell at the soil line. The tree at this point is starting to get a good flare at the soil trunk transition and this is due to planting directly on the pot and firm tie in of the tree.

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The tree is tied and I can pick it up by the trunk and the pot does not move. The tree at this point still has no soil in it. Just a tree and pot. The soil for the whole tree is backfilled around the depression around the edge of the pot. The soil in the roots from the previous season are not washed from the root mass. This allows the new roots to fill the new area with roots while the roots next to the trunk can inarch and graft together to help form the nebari.

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The tree is now backfilled and watered in and placed back on the bench. It will be full of leaves by Friday.

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Grow Stones and Maples   1 comment

Last year I did two trees as an experiment with the grow stones. Both trees were planted in 100 percent grow stones. I did a conifer that was ailing which would give me a visual indicator during the year if the increased air and drainage was worth the effort. I also did a group of five maples thru a disk with five holes to build a massive taper larger trident. I can say that while the conifer was actually improved and grew very well the trident while not suffering too badly did not thrive in my heat.

I planted the trees as they were in the growing pots about 14 inches tall. The trees wear about 3/4 inch across and were planted thru 1 1/4 inch holes drilled in a ceramic disk. The tree grew and managed to grow to about five feet tall which in itself is good, not good for what they should have done in a year around here. I should have had about nine feet of growth and a good increase in caliper.

All of the trees I planted into disks were left the height they were while they had been growing as single trees. The smaller ones I planted from the seeds the year before were about 10 inches tall. While the small ones did increase in size and layer at the disk intersection, I feel this was because the better and more moisture laden soil they grew in. They all grew in colanders so that part was equal as well.

This year the large group of five in individual holes will be planted into a much more humus rich soil mix. Based on trees grown in previous years, the trees should begin to fill the holes and layer off. I need each one to increase in girth by at least 50 percent to even touch each other and begin grafting. Should take about two more years to get to that point.

The most important part of this project is what was done for this year. Like the trees I did a decade ago, massive girth in the bottom third of the tree will only take place when the shoot emerges from the trunk low on the trunk. Let me explain. When a tree is expected to increase in size, sacrifice branches are used to achieve this. If a tree is 20 inches tall and the sacrifice is used from a bud that emerges from the trunk in the first inch above the soil, that shoot will increase the base of the trunk by a lot over a season. In fact this is a good way to improve reverse taper.

If a person is trying to achieve a large trunk and uses a shoot in the upper third of the trunk, all of the branches adjacent to the shoot will increase in size but the base of the trunk will hardly see any increase in size. Further, all increase in size happens below a sacrifice or adjacent to it. For this project on the large tree as well as the smaller projects I have going, I have cut back all the trunks on the groups of tree thru the plates down to about 2 -3 inches. The larger project was cut down to about 4 inches. This cut back will force all the energy into only the four inches of trunk and swell a lot. If I left the trunks 5 feet long the shoots would only increase the trunks right out on the ends of the trunks, 14 inches away from the holes I need to fill. With the trunks now only four inches tall, the new shoots will direct all the energy into the trunks and they should swell to fill the holes by June. The tree was checked and the buds are swelling and now is the right time to cut the canes. this will now force all the energy into the bottom.

 

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This is how much larger the trees have to grow to fill the holes and begin layering.

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The roots have been covered with a layer of the grow stones as well as what above the tile. just from the fact of being covered with soil the trunks will begin to emit roots.

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Here are the five trunks cut back and ready for next years growth.

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All the trunks were cut back to shoots or buds on the trunk. this is the safest method to insure the trunk will take off when the sap is on the rise.

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Here are some of the other baskets of maples with the trunks all cut back ready for spring. These are all the seedligs I did under the screen. They have good movement as a benifit from the screen.

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This is one of the larger seedlings done from the same batch. It is amazing how fast they grow if they are not stuted by having screen thrown over them. the squirrels did a number on this root connected pair as can be seen in the close up.

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Bonsai Tips with Justin Case – Maple Defoliation   1 comment

I was going to post this tomorrow but since today is the last consecutive date that will ever be seen by all people now alive on Earth, I decided to post it today. 12-13-14

Today I wish to talk about the maple myth of defoliation. When I think of the term defoliation I am reminded of a fortune I received in a cookie many years ago. It reads;  Before you wonder “Am I doing things right,” ask “Am I doing the right things?”

So the question has to be asked, “What is it you expect from defoliation?” The myth says two things will happen after defoliation.

1. leaves will be smaller.

2. increase in ramification.

While it is partially true that the leaves will become smaller after defoliation, the reason why they are smaller is decreased health in the tree. Defoliation in and of itself weakens the tree, thereby making smaller leaves. There is no significant ramification increase by the technique of defoliation alone. To engage in the task of defoliation, light or heavy pruning is done in conjunction with the defoliation. It is the light or heavy pruning that increases the twigs on the branches and not the defoliation.

A good strong growing maple tree will fight with itself for apical dominance. A few branches will emerge victorious and will begin to elongate. These runners will continue to elongate, growing in girth and length until stopped by pruning. The runner will continue because of a terminal bud. This bud has the genetic predisposition to continue growing straight ahead without lateral branching. Along with this running on top, the same will be going on below the soil with fast increase of girth and length of roots. These long shoots are what cause roots to wrap around the walls of a container.

Plants grow leaves proportionate to the quantity contained by its branches. A tree with a few large branches will have few leaves but of a very large size. The trees health needs are met by a certain amount of real estate tied up in leaves. The tree is much healthier making 25 large leaves the size of your hand, and much weaker making 250 leaves the size of a dime. If a person has a tree with the 25 leaves and wants the 250 small leaves, then a support structure for so many leaves must be built. Defoliating a tree with 25 leaves to get smaller leaves is not only hard on the tree from a defolaition stand point but also hard on the tree from a nutrition (photosynthesis) stand point. While defoliating the tree with 25 leaves may get you some smaller leaves in the beginning, unless more grow in a hurry, they will get larger in a few weeks. Thats just the nature of the beast.

How can I get a tree to have smaller leaves and more twigs?

PRUNE CONTINUALLY!

There is nothing more simple than pruning a maple to increase ramification and make smaller leaves. If you have more twigs the tree will make more leaves. If the tree has more leaves they don’t have to be as large to get the same amount of photosynthesis. The tree will make small leaves all by itself without ever removing one leaf for the rest of its life. In this case a heavily ramified tree will always have small leaves and will never have to be defoliated to decrease the size. If the tree has proper structure and twigs it needs no defoliation for that either. So a properly prepared maple has absolutely no need for defoliation.

I read on many forums people recommending to defoliate to build ramification and defoliating to make smaller leaves, and then a picture of the tree is shown and it has a trunk, five branches the thickness of your finger and one or two tertiaries. Defoliating is going to do absolutely nothing for this tree. The only thing that is needed to help the tree is selective pruning. People recommend defoliating because the myth has been perpetuated on the net and people keep spreading it like gospel and have never even worked with a maple with a properly ramified crown. People throw the word around and have no idea what the technique does and does not do. I think they think it makes them sound important or that they know what they are doing.

When is defoliating be necessary?

When a person has a properly ramified maple and the tree may have some insect damaged leaves or burnt edges and the tree is ready to be exhibited. At that time a tree can be defoliated about 60 days before the event and the tree should have a whole new change of clothes. (Koromo ga e) This tree can be exhibited now and all the leaves will be fresh and green. This is not necessary with the spring growth and is usually reserved for showing in late summer when leaves have burned thru the summer.

Tell me more about pruning

Maples respond well to pruning. pruning a maple is akin to mowing the grass, they just keep pruducing divisions. What is a division? Its when the terminal bud is removed the tip of a branch. All living plants have a terminal bud. It is the bud that is wired to move ahead in a straight line. When a branch has its terminal innterupted by removal, the two apical lateral buds will shoot away in opposite directions, a division. Some may know this as a forked branch. If the two lateral buds are not allowed to elongate, meaning to let go the new terminal bud that emerges at the tip of the new lateral shoots, then two new shoots will emerge from those two lateral. So now one branch was pruned and made two, then pruned again and made four, etc, etc. Now this steady pruning will not go on forever. One may get about three good prunings on a healthy tree. More than that and the trees health is severely diminshed and the tree may respond by not opening any more buds till fall. Pruning in early spring and early summer should be held to March thru June. Rest thru summer and then cut back in late August to middle Sept.

I have a few pictures to share. First is a couple seedling trident maples from two years ago. They have been allowed to grow unchecked and are about 7 feet tall this year. The trunks are about 3/8 inch across at the soil and are grown on a tile. There is no branching on these shoots. The terminal bud has not been touched and for all intents and purposes, these plants will continue to gorm untill interrupted by a storm, snail, insect anything that would interrupt the growth.

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If I bend on of the shoots over to take a picture we can see all the buds for next year already set on the shoot. The terminal is almost twice as large as the laterals. This is becuase the terminal contains two sets of leaves instead of only one leaf. Maples grow in offset pairs of leaves offset by 90 degrees. This is to insure that a large proportion of the leaves will be in contact with the sun.

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Even palmatums that grow in my yard exhibit the same growth habit by elongated shoots growing to the sky unhindered. They will not ramify untill interrupted by pruning. Why should they? this is easy growing like this.

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At the base of each leaf stock is an adventitious bud. A adventitious bud is a bud that in the “advent” the leaf gets eaten or burned off in the sun, and new leaf is ready to take its place. Now here is the part one has to think about. If a person comes in and defoliates this branch, artificially makes it believe the leaves were eaten off by a moth larve, the branch is not going to make more branches. It is just going to make new leaves. The terminal bud is still there, all the latent advetitious buds are there and now they are all stimulated into action to make new leaves. There has been no division of branch or twig, just new leaves in exactly the same place they were before.

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See how much larger the terminal is than the lateral. One leaf compared to two.

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In the picture below, one can see the stub in the middle od the branch that was cut. This was a pruning. This picture makes this look large but in reality the stub is half the size of a BB, about 3 mm.

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If the shoot is pruned to the red line, the two buds at the end of the shoot will become branches and the buds below that will become leaves. They are marked T for terminal and L for leaf.

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If one were to prune out even further on the branch the effect would be the same except there would be two more buds below and two more leaves. The problem with leaving two sets of nodes behind the cut is that the neck of the branch segments are two large and on smaller trees this can make the tree look disproportionate. If you look behind my first scar and go down a little more, you can see the scar of the branch cut before. So what you see here is a small, less than 1/2 inch segment of a branch cut back to split once and then split again, and now I will cut again and have three branch divisions in 1/2 an inch. This is how you build ramification and attain smaller leaves, by making more of them. More than the tree actually needs.

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In the case of this branch below I would be better to make the cut at the first node and make a directional change in the ramification. This area is in the top of this tree and I don’t need the branches horizontal but rather upward and full. Keep in mind that one does not have to keep both buds. The downward growing one in this case can be rubbed off and only the upward growing bud can be kept. This shoot will elongate and another pair can be kept that may be in a better position after some growth.

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Just so you know the tree in these pictures looks just like what yu see. Still has all its green unburned leaves on 12-13-14. I hope this tip can help some of those out there with what defoliation really is. It can be used with great effect of heavily ramified trees , but does not build raminfication on its own. Do it if you must but know that all you are doing is weakening the tree and losing precious weeks in the growing season to growing back leaves. That is such a waste of time. I say; prune to get twigs..Justin case.

OMG, seeds again?   4 comments

Well Sunday after the swapmeet I was able to get my seeds in for this year. I bought seed from a different company and hopefully the germination rate will be better. I planted 400 seeds this time, and I plant on making more of the tridents under screen this time. This year I have a new idea which I will share when ready and plan on keeping the seedlings confined much longer than this year. Recently on a discussion forum post I saw some trident all twisted up on growing cascade style from a stone. I will try to introduce a yamadori style method to these tridents and see what I get. Many of these will also be grown in a clump so that they intertwine and graft together to make a larger trunk sooner.

This year rather than grow these in turface and sand I decided to grow these in Black Gold brand cactus soil. It is a blend of pine bark and pumice about 50/50. The bark is pretty coarse and I am sure it would work as bonsai soil also. Pretty easy to get at any home depot.

It should be an interesting year all around.

2013

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