Peach-leaf Willow (Salix amygdaloides) Root over rock style

deiscoridesJune 9, 2006

One day last year while wading in the river behind my house I spotted a small sprout, complete with catkins, in a sand bar. Turns out this was a twig that fell off a nearby Peach-leaf Willow tree (Fig. 1). It basically is a natural cutting. Wanting to get into bonsai I immediately transplanted it. (Fig. 2) I decided I wanted to try the ÂRoot Over Rock style. Just 4 months later the tree was already getting root bound. I transplanted it and selected a weathered rock I had brought back from a mountain trip. Since the tree was so young I had to do things slightly different than the normal root over rock steps. I had to add a thin layer of dirt around the rock then wrap it up, leaving the bottom open. The roots of the tree were yet to be long enough to reach the bottom of the rock. I then filled the bottom of a large container with soil, placed the tree and rock on it then filled the rest of the pot up with pebbles. (Fig. 3)

The tree grew very rapidly. During the winter it had about 75% die back. This spring it sprang back to life like crazy. I repotted it again as it was already root bound. (Fig. 4) After about a week of watering and eroding the soil from the rock I wrapped the roots and rock again, this time without soil. (Fig. 5) I wish I had taken a couple pics between wrappings. The root growth is impressive. Now all I have to do is wait 3 more months before I have to repot it again.

Peach-leaf Willows grow very fast it seems. IÂm sure IÂll have to replant it once every 3-4 months. They love water and can survive up to a year in standing water. They also love full sun. In fact, they need full sun in order to survive in the wild. Other trees crowd them out easily. Pruning makes them explode with new buds. If you feed them you might want to stand back for how fast they will grow. lol These trees do not have the long droopy leaves other willows do and seem like perfect trees for beginners.

This happens to be my first serious bonsai. So far, IÂve made one mistake. I was absent mindedly talking while getting ready to cut the trunk. Instead of picking up the small saw I picked up a pair of side cutters. >_ItÂs funny, all the online info I can find on Salix amygdaloides says it doesnÂt grow in my state. Yet, there are hundredÂs of them all over where I live. Has anyone else here ever used a Peach-leaf Willow for bonsai before?

- 244KB

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First off, would you like to update the USDA site on the occurrence of the willow in your state. If so then here is the link!
Click here
There is a link embedded in the paragraph that you can use to update.

Willows are generally fast growers especially riparian species. They also can be propagated by cuttings easily.
Yours is a great job of bonsai! I imagine you will be growing for some time before doing undressing to expose the roots on a very gradual basis??
I definitely encourage images of the plant as time progresses. Do you know how to manage a photo imaging program? It looks like you enjoy writing. You can combine your writing and images at the same time with the photo imaging program on your machine. Below is a sample of a webjournal page I made using a photo imaging program. The entire page is an jpeg image. If you look at the top image there is a riparian willow in it which I will be cutting back severely later. What I like about doing this kind of journal is that you can do the whole thing on your machine and now have to wait until you upload a html page with programming to see what the page will look like! This page is located on one of my websites.

It is funny that you are attempting a bonsai with a tree over rocks motif. I had been debating the same with a small shrub but have settled upon using a part of a branch to see how it goes. I will attempt it some time later and construct a webjournal on it as I like to walk through the process and share that walk just in case anything occurs that might be of interest in approach to any reader. So I am definitely interested in seeing how your baby comes out!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 2:06AM
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lol IÂm a writer. I am rather familiar with Photoshop CS2 and write tutorials for it from time to time. Though, I find adding text to an image to be posted on this forum to be a bit cumbersome, at least in large volume. Textual highlights are at most times warranted. I also have years of experience in creating web pages; programming by hand.

The USDA doesnÂt list regions for my state that seems to be why my tree species its not listed.

Yes, I will be gradually exposing the roots over time. Though, I doubt I will need to for this one. The root system has already begun to harden up to where being exposed wonÂt cause harm. Not that I will risk exposure it for another year or two to be on the safe side. I am making it a point to take progressive photos of all my bonsai. IÂm now letting my root-over-rock bonsai thicken up at the base and two main trunks. In the end, I plan on this being a cascade or semi-cascade tree. I wonÂt be wiring it and will instead attempt this through pruning and pinching.

Buy cheap paint and paint your plastic pool. White is best. It will extend its life by blocking UV radiation and oxygen. Both can degrade plastics rapidly, some faster than others.

Root over rock is very easy to do especially if the plant is very young and the roots very thin. Picking the correct rock is the most difficult part, aside from patience. It should have a nice flat bottom, look good, and have lots of crags and crevices for the roots to flow around and through. The next time IÂm in the mountains I plan on looking for such stones. IÂve planned on cutting the bottom of stones flat if I need to.

HereÂs an example of another bonsai I began last year. I found a rather tall, thin, and branchless maple sapling near my pond. The result of all that flimsiness is this, (Maple) 125KB. This is of course not an actual bonsai style and is instead uses mounds of artistic licensing. IÂm basically going to attempt to make it look like itÂs a dragon swimming in water. IÂm sure it wonÂt look too much like that, but it will be interesting to say the least. IÂve yet to repot this one this year and am waiting till at least next year to repot.

My next traditional bonsai subject will be in the "exposed root" (not my tree), and I plan to go to extremes with it. IÂll be planting my subject tree in a very long narrow plastic pipe that is stood on end. Each year the pipe will be cut shorter from the top, exposing a little more root each time. The pipe itself will be planted in a large pot for when the roots finally reach the bottom. Though, I prefer the Sekijoju instead. I like stones. lol

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 9:43PM
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Thanks for the tip on painting the plastic pool. Fraid it is many years too late as the plastic is brittle but even so it holds up as long as I do not mess with it though cats occasionally will jump into the pool and sleep on the plants. I really need to redo it but it is only one of many projects that I wish to accomplish in the next 20 years!!!
And it is very low priority!!
Your dragon tree sounds interesting! How about using a willow as that could even root out along the stem??
The last style you mention is totally unreal!!! The image is a very old tree probably at least 50 or so if not older.
It is a great style. I was looking at my bush. It is a Japanese Boxwood (Buxus japonica microphylla) which I first set up on a plate in Aug. 2004. I am really surprised by how well it has done on the plate. I may not go with the log but to a rock into a smaller pot. I will be constructing a webjournal on it when I take the plunge. I really enjoy working with the plants this way and writing about it. I will probably go for one level of branching like a flat top and wire up a branch or two into the level while doing some bottom trimming to raise the lower line of branches. I am not a traditionalist! Or necessarily a naturalist but rather am interested in the art and developing lines of vision and emphasis. We will see.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 4:40AM
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I thought the pool might be too old judging from the plant growth within it. IÂd hate to have to repot that, but itÂd be fun. lol IÂve layered the maple where the stem is buried under the soil. I also dusted the wound with root hormone. It should have already sprouted roots by now. That is why I wonÂt repot it for another year. I want the roots to be at least 2 seasons old before I move it to a much larger pot for thickening up. IÂve been playing with the idea of making it into a partial Sekijoju and/or Neagari style(s).

That example of Neagari style, I think is older than 100 years. Done correctly it is a very impressive style I think. I once saw one priced at 500,000 yen ($4,342.79USD) and another priced at a whopping 8 million yen ($69,479.35USD) somewhere online. Both were done by the same artist. Wish I still had the pics.

Good luck with your Japanese Boxwood. I understand those take well from cuttings. ThatÂs the fun of bonsai, while there are general rules, they are not strict. Your log idea, is actually what the Neagari style is imitating. A tree falls in the woods, its log start to rot, a seedling sprouts on top of it, and as the new tree grows the log rots out from under it leaving the tree up in the air supported by its roots. There are some trees (Yellow Birch) in my state that must start out on a log for them to grow. ThereÂs a place in the mountains where you can observe a great many 100 year old trees, of this kind, with impressive nebari that look like they were all done in the Neagari style. Actually, I was there last year and took a few photos along a park trail. HereÂs one of the signs that explains it all, (247KB). The tree in that photo was just to the left of that sign.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 10:57AM
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Since I can't get photobucket to work on dial-up for some reason I've recently made my updates to BonsaiChan:

This is where I've been putting more pics of this willow including ones of it now that it's been unwrapped and the roots and rock exposed.

No login required there to post. I'm not plugging that site, I'm just posting this here since there may be people who want to know how this turned out along with other bonsai projects of mine.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 2:03PM
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