Quaking Aspen bonsai?

xopher(z5 MI)May 12, 2006

I'm new to bonsai and want to start one. I want to use a native specimen growing on my property. Not a store bought juniper or such. That way I won't be upset if I kill it while I learn. I have many varieties to choose from but my Quaking Aspens caught my eye. I love their chalky white trunks and golden autumn foliage. There are a many suckers that would make good candidates.

My question is, Would Quaking Aspen be a good bonsai candidate of any style? Has anyone even seen a QA bonsai? I've searched the internet for an example of one for inspiration but couldn't find any. Appearently their not a very popular bonsai specimen. Which is why I'm asking.

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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Aspen and Birch are fairly similar, perhaps you should look up Birch Bonsai and just emulate them.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 1:26AM
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xopher(z5 MI)

Thanks for the input. I will do that.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 8:15AM
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ryan820(z5b Denver, Colorado, USA)

Aspens, I'm told, do not make good bonsai. Why this is so I do not know. My guess is that they have, in their nature, the ability to multiply very fast through suckers-- but likewise, they are short lived. So I guess it depends on how long you plant to have yours. What is the max age of an aspen?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 4:26PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Possibly due to the fact that: in addition to being prone to disease and insect pests, they also shed (even large) branches for no apparent reason.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 4:35PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

An aspen grove, which can be one single oragain, can live for thousands of years I'm told, however I'm not sure about one tree. People say the same things about Birch that they do about Aspen,Desease Prone, Short lived, Garbage tree, but next time I go for a long Bike Ride I'l take some pictures of The Old Birch we have out on the trail, there are some that must be 80 years old.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 6:14PM
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xopher(z5 MI)

I see. I guess I won't bonsai a QA after all. I might start a fruit tree from seed (tart cherry, apple or perhaps a pear).I have a 40+ year old tart cherry tree growing in the front yard. That tree actually looks like a super-sized bonsai creation. I know, bonsai is supposed to imitate nature not vice versa.
I also have a variety of native hardwoods such as white and red oaks, maples and even an elm. What do you think? Keep in mind that I want a tree native to the mid-west US.
If any of the tree varieties I mentioned are not worthy of bonsai, I'll go ahead and buy nursery stock.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 10:28AM
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Ill throw my 2 cents at you. When I was in highschool, 11 years ago, my computer teacher and I liked to grow different plants. At that time I did not tinker into bonsai, but he did. We were in Pennsylvania and he dug up, out of his gutter, a maple, guessing red or silver. He put it in a bonsai pot and kept it alive for years. It was a neat looking tree. In short. If you have unlimited QA, like we do in PA, try it. QA live for 40-80 years and only shead large branches. If you do the tree well, it will out live you. Id say give it a try. If it dies, go dig up another or try another type. Thats my two cents.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 10:24PM
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I just found this thread- well over a year late. I live in the mountains near Colorado Springs and have grown many bonsai of native species for many years- including an aspen grove. It is in a pot about 27" X 15" X 2". All that was said above about the faults of these trees is true. Also digging a sucker up and having it survive the transplant is risky, but like you, I have loads to risk and nothing to lose. The transplant works best if done in spring just before the buds break open. Another trick, if you have patience, is to cut one or both of the sucker roots a few inches on each side of the tiny tree(s) you want but leave it right there. These suckers are usally just an inch or 2 under the ground and grow horizontal. Give it a long time- like 'til next spring to form some new fine feeder roots, and then move into a pot. Aspen like lots of water and when established in a pot will often throw up new suckers of their own leading to a grove. I started with two groves of 3 trees each and after a couple of years put them together in a very large pot only 2" deep. I keep it sheltered in the winter and this helps some but nearly always lose at least one tree per season. Each spring I replace a dead one with a new one. I keep one orr 2 dead ones too as that is natural part of a forest. Bonsai rquires lots of patience, but since you have lots of available material give it a try. Also see if you can join a club in your area- no better way to learn. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 9:00PM
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My buddy and I just collected some very contorted quaking aspen bonsai in Idaho, one with no feeder roots, one with a few, and one with more. All are being being misted without being watered�"a good technique that helps reduce transplant shock and develop rootlets. They are sprouting leaves; let's see if they give us some roots!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 6:57PM
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