Tips for new owner of an Australian Brush Cherry?

Ohiofem(6a Ohio)April 13, 2011

I came across a 18-inch-tall Australian Brush Cherry "Teenie Genie" for sale at an independent garden center and couldn't resist the price: $30 marked down from $75. It looks healthy, but shows a little neglect: roots showing through partially dead moss and a lot of new leaves at branch tips looking like they may need a haircut. It also seems to be leaning forward and is out of balance with the 8-inch pot it's in.

I was told it was on sale because the only employee who was an expert on bonsai had retired more than a month ago. I have some bonsai books and have had some limied experience with bonsai, but I never kept one alive for more than six months, so I know I need to learn a lot more fast. I am aware that this is an indoor bonsai, but I'm thinking it would be happier living outside from spring through fall.

Does anyone have suggestions for how to care for it? Are there good information sources on the web or in the library that could give me more than a beginner's overview? I've googled it and read most of what I found, but it's not very specific.

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

The plant tag calls this Eugenia myrtifolia "Teenie Genie." Here's a photo of the tree:

The soil:

And a closeup of the foliage:

The plant was originally from New England Bonsai Gardens.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 8:56AM
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schism(6) Try this link. They have some of those exact plants for sale. They seem like the kind of people that would help if you called or e-mailed them. New England Bonsai gardens is their name. If you go to "Bonsai" there is one of those Australian Brush Cherry's for sale there.

Here is a link that might be useful: New England Bonsai Gardens

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 8:59AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hey, Robin - It appears that the plant has only been 'sheared' for a while. You'll notice the tendency for the plant to react to a pruning cut by producing multiple branches from the immediate area of each cut. Euonymus alata (burning bush) is another plant that reacts in similar fashion. This will quickly spoil the appearance by producing large knots of growth and a pom pon appearance at branch ends if you don't work diligently to limit branching to only 2 or possibly 3 branches in some cases from emerging from nearly the same point. Fortunately, the plant back-buds profusely of you cut it back when it is growing well, so there's a cure for that look.

I would hold off on doing any pruning for now, root prune/repot it very soon, into a free draining soil. I know you're familiar with the gritty mix, which is what I use and know to work very well. By late June the plant will have recovered enough that you can cut it back to force more branching closer to the trunks & main branches, which will afford you plenty of pruning opportunities so you can take the plant in any direction you'd like.

Until you repot, be careful not to over-water, especially if the soil doesn't drain well, but DO water thoroughly when you water. If you''re worried about over-watering, use a wick & tip the pot steeply toward one end to help remove excess water. You'll be surprised to see how much more water exits the pot after it's stopped draining and you tip it steeply.

I use Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 on all my plants, and it works very well.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 9:22PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Thanks, Al. I really appreciate you taking the time to advise me when I know you are so busy caring for your own plants. This is exactly the kind of advice I was hoping I could get. As soon as I can find time in the busy spring planting schedule, I plan to root prune and repot this tree according to what I've been reading in your Trees in Containers threads. I've already got the Foliage Pro 9-3-6 and all my ingredients for the gritty mix ready to go. I'll be keeping the tree outside in bright light after it has had a little time to recover from repotting. I can already see what you mean about it developing the pompom effect at the branch tips, so I am eager to get it healthy enough to be pruned and shaped. I'll share my progress, or lack thereof. This is going to be fun!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:46AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

We'll be watching for your reports!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 3:24PM
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Update please.

The pics on this post have expired.

I too am experimenting w/ 3 B.C.'s. you could say I'm learning my a,b,c's.

(Australian Brush Cherries = A.B.C.'s.:-)


1 Like    Bookmark   March 9, 2015 at 4:00PM
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    Bookmark   March 19, 2015 at 1:04AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Sorry Rob. I killed the poor thing. When I removed it from its pot in early June, I found a thick tangle of circling roots that looked like they had been crammed in a 3-inch pot. The few roots that had ventured out of that tangle into the rest of the bonsai pot that was 8-10 inches wide, broke off when I removed the old potting mix. I tried to be very gentle in loosening the roots near the trunk, and I trimmed off a couple thick roots that were circling. I repotted in gritty mix, kept the plant in shade and watered regularly, but it never really recovered from transplanting. Sadly, it was not the first or the last bonsai I killed by root and/or branch pruning. Since then I have learned to be extremely careful about both pruning and transplanting. And watering.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2015 at 6:39AM
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Well you're not alone. The 1st BC I got was the same way, a 1 1/2 foot long tap root on a 5" tall tree, circling & circling & circling the 4" pot it must have been living in for quite some time. It took a long time to untangle, just to find there were almost no feeder roots, I cut most of it off & potted the poor tree, but it died shortly thereafter.

Now, since they have such small leaves & great branch structure, I got another one, it had slightly better root'(s), I ended up not pruning the roots at all, this one barely survived but is doing well now (they must be very sensitive).

Now I've bought 2 more BC's the size of small shrubs. I'm going to use these as practice trees for different bonsai techniques

When I found your old post, I was hoping by now you had a strong healthy specimen & could give me some advice.

Oh well, thanks for your reply.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2015 at 9:54PM
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