Archive for the ‘grow stones’ Tag

Catching up around the yard   2 comments

This is my first spring since my wife was down for a year with cancer. I did not spend any time in the backyard and just watered trees. As the radiation was over last July I was able to catch up on a few things bonsai related but much of the damage was done and I would be playing catch up for a while. Over the winter I was able to repot and get some unfinished business out of the way like pruning and styling of a few trees that had never looked like much.

So this is the fruit of my labor. Still have a ways to go but most stuff is caught up now. Still looking for a place to put trees under construction, but that a never ending job. Lets have a look around the backyard.


There are 30 shohin on the bench right now with about 12 more coming soon (two or more years). An assortment of elms, pines and tridents still to come




This California juniper is now in its second year in the grow stones and it has never looked better.



Ghidorah -1 gat some trimming, a repot into a nice Chinese round Literati pot and a good painting of lime supher.


Took this tree to the club meeting yesterday and cleaned and oiled the pot, cut back the moss and applied some black/red sifted lava around the moss to dress the top. Some light pruning and wire and I’m done for a couple months.


Well these two are just growing. They both need help.


Two recent aquisitions, The Maple last Nov. and the giant cork bark elm a couple months ago.


The above maple, Oshio Beni is now making leaves. Ther are unfolding each day and I am excited to see the red leaves finally. After thirty one years of bonsai this is the first red leved maple.


It is pushing very hard and the buds out of the old wood show that.




The Muranaka pine is sending candles out now.


Crepe mrytle I purchased last week. Leaves come out red and then turn copper finally green


The elm root cutting are sending green buds skyward. Leaves are beginning to form and next year training will start on more shohin trees.






This small 3 inch tall pine from Ed has candles already 14 inches long.


I have two hornbeam shohin and both are getting ready to unfurl the leaves.


The ole miss, looking great this year.



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.





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


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.



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


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.





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.





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.






California Juniper no. 2 – Buruhon   2 comments

Buruhon in Japanese stands for bullhorn. It was the name given to this specimen in the desert by Harry Hirao when he seen it. Earlier this year during the repotting season, this juniper was given life saving care. It never went to adult foliage always staying with awl type foliage and the tree never flourished and always seemed on a slow steady decline. I figured the roots were probably the culprit and never really got a good foothold. Most of this is my fault as I simply just cannot wait to start getting them to a bonsai pot. Even though I started with a larger pot and worked it down over a few years, I probably should have allowed a couple of years growth between potting down rather than just one season. Its taken me a long time, but I now realize that just because it is alive does not mean it can be handled roughly, by repotting and things.

During repotting I chose a couple of plants this year to be the beneficiary of growing in 100% Grow Stones. This is a completely man-made product that functions exactly like pumice but is made from recycled glass. It can be purchased in hydroponic stores that cater to the weed trade. The reason I chose this tree was due to the poor and sickly look of the tree. Using a product for the first time as a stand alone ingredient has to be used by itself to really know in the product can do what it claims. The other tree I chose was a trident maple. It too was grown in 100% Grow Stones. The product worked very well for the juniper from a desert climate while the tridents suffered due to the product just not retaining enough water. The desert juniper is quite at home with more dry feet and so the pumice allowed a good exchange of air yet had a good moisture content when watered, and then tapered off as it dried. Much like the juniper would experience in the desert with a flash flood summer rain.

Eleven months later the tree has responded well to the pumice. Its foliage while still juvenile is growing very well. Most of the tips stay green now, as before they would brown off the shoot would stall. Now the shoots are elongating. I feel the roots are now in much better shape and have grown a lot since the repot. Some branches that were still wired when I repotted had now swollen and the wire was starting to bite which was a good sign since some of the wire had been on there since 2008 and had never seen and expansion of the limb.

Today I cleaned out all the old brown shoots that had died even after the repot. Some of the smaller branches had died and those were clean out as well. I decided that after the clean up I would wire the tree. It has not been wired since 2008 and the branches were pretty long. This tree has always suffered growing foliage and branches and not I really had something to work with. Not as much as I would have liked but now I will have a good base to expand on and the outline is much better than the tree has ever been.

This is the tree as it was collected. 2005


This is the first bonsai pot. It was very large or the tree and I had hoped that it would do much better than a correct size pot. 2007


This is the next size down. This is in 2008 and the only time the tree has been wired.


During this season repot this is the only roots I had on the tree. This is the backside of the tree. The only live side on the tree is the right side seen from the front.


This is the roots as seen from the front. This is not a lot of roots to support this tree. If I wanted more foliage i will need a proportionate amount of roots to get them.


This is the tree tied into the pot. The roots are tucked into one small corner.


Started to backfill the pot with 100% pumice. This is how the canopy looked at the time of repot. A lot of the foliage is dead and continues to die. New shoots come out and then just dry up and turn brown.


The tree is tied in with a hole drilled thru the trunk and then wired into the drain holes and tied.


At this point I stopped with the pumice and topped the tree off with my regular soil mix just so I didn’t have to stare at the stupid tan pumice all summer.


Today I started the work on the tree by cleaning up all the dead stuff. Watch dog looking on.


Too cold outside so Mommy put the sweater on the watch dog. All the dead stuff can be seen in the canopy. Notice on the top of the tree I have very strong upright-growing shoots, as well as other places on the tree.


This is what the tree looked like after cleaning out all the dead twigs, and dead needles. Lots of good growing foliage now.


This is as far as I could get today. I was tired and this was about 5 hours work. Still lots of detail wire to put on especially on the back of the tree. The canopy is too pointy and I want a rounder softer canopy, but will have to wait for more growth. I am pleased with the tree so far. It looks like the larger particle size as well as the greater air exchange seemed to save the life of this juniper. Maybe it will really look good next year with another year of growth.





Five Trees on a Plate Update   2 comments

Last year in Feb the five trees was placed thru a large terra cotta water saucer. The rim was cut off and five holes were drilled into it. The hole saw I used made an 1 1/4 inch hole. The trees I placed into the holes were trees grown out from cuttings I struck in 2010. The trees were about 5/8 to 3/4 inch across at the base.

This planting was grown out this year in grow stones only. No other planting medium was used. The grow stones are a synthetic pumice made from recycled glass. The medium worked good, and was a successful planting medium. I also planted a California juniper into the same mix so that I could compare which trees do better in the mix. Article coming soon on the results so far.

Here is the plate all prepared with the holes. The outsides of the holes form a circle about 5 inches in diameter. I plan to have a circle of roots with a fused base of about 8 to 9 inches or cover this saucer.


In this shot we can see that there is quite a bit of room for the trees in the holes.


This is what the whole thing looked like in the grow stones. The entire top of the planting was covered with an inch layer of long fiber moss.


This is what it looked like today. The trees have grown to about 6 feet tall.


This tree is the only one that grew large enough to start the girdle process. Once the tree is larger than the hole, the trunk begins to swell really fast.


The trunk is a full 1.75 inch across.


The other trees have some catching up to do, but that will be accomplished next year easy.


The pumice was piled above the plate as well as the inch of moss. The moss was successful in keeping the trunk wet during the day. The trunk is still wet after pushing back the top layer of pumice. What this did was cause some of the roots to sprout much too high on the trunk. I have taken the liberty to remove those now. I wish the roots to be right at the plate and start knitting there.





Whats cool about baskets is that if you set them on the ground, you get all the benifit of growun growing, but can still be lifted awy to take to a workshop if necessary. These roots will just be pruned away in spring.


It is my contention that I did not see the rampet growth from the pumice product that I wanted. The tree needed much more long lasting hydration than the fast drying pumice could produce. In spring, the entire planting will be changed out for a traditional ALP mix. The addition of akadama will get me the hydration reserve I need to keep the plant growing all day. This tree was in full sun all year 105 temps for weeks at a time. Next year will be no different except that the planting will stay cooler and wetter longer. I should see a huge improvement in the way the planting performs.



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