Buttonwood Bonsai

ray_ratliff(z10 South Florida)December 31, 2007

Hello all, I am brand new to the world of Bonsai & have become interested after seeing a beautiful display of a Buttonwood Tree. I am wondering, can anyone share a few really good links that can help guide me thru the process of selecting, trimming, pinching, wiring, etc. Or if you feel like typing some info & sharing it here, it would be greatly appreciated! I am really interested in creating a buttonwood tree with the stripped away bark & possible putting an orchid or two on it in the years to come. Thanks for any links/ advice that you can offer!!

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lucy(6)

Wow, how exotic (never heard of orchids being incorporated as part of a bonsai before). I strongly suggest you first (before putting out money) find a club to join as it's the best way to learn, and start reading about bonsai, go to www.bonsai4me.com, www.bonsaihunk.us/cultural.html, and www.evergreengardenworks.com for a general overview of various aspects of growing, both indoor and out (indoor bonsai are generally tropicals that while they should be outdoors in summer, can't stay there in winter (tho' it wouldn't matter where you are) - anything else must be out for cold dormancy... it's not negotiable. Buttonwood is certainly used, though I'm not familiar with growing them, but you really need some kind of foundation to start off with, possibly practice on inexpensive nursery shrubs, etc., as there's a lot more to it than the Karate Kid pruning stuff :-)! You need to know about soils, seasons, lighting, watering - a very big deal in bonsai, not at all like for house plants - and other things, plus BW is probably not the best tree for a beginner to start with from all I've heard.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 7:49PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi
Notice you lived in S. Florida . As you know everything
about gardening here is different.lol. As I'm understanding it you want to create a dwarf tree to hold epiphytes// Sort of a dish garden?? To me this is one of the most exciting wayds to grow plants in this climate.
First ,How large do you want it to become?? Maintain
it in a pot or grow area.?? Do you want a true Bonsai or would dwarfing serve your purpose??. Keep in the house or yard?? Nothing wrong with buttonwood but there are hundreds of choices of species. Flowers seed pods changing leaves. As to epiphytes do you have a specific species of orchid in mind?? There are many other epiphytes as well as vines and let's not forget underplanting either seasonal or perrenial.
I have done several of thes type over the years and they are a lot of fun.. There are hundreds of ways to go about it. gary

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 6:28AM
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lucy(6)

Gary, I really think he wants a bonsai (though stripped bark really only works on junipers and orchids don't belong), not a dish garden. I do wish he'd get back here though so we can talk about it more :-).

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 11:36AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Gee, Lucy - are you sure about that (the juniper thing)? Of the hundreds of buttonwoods I've seen as bonsai, every one of note featured deadwood (and often very thin life lines) as a very prominent feature of the composition, if not the primary focal point.

Al

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 5:09PM
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lucy(6)

Deadwood is one thing, but I thought you were talking about stripping a stripe on a live trunk.. which really is basically only done on junipers as other trees react badly (and it's hard to find their lifelines).

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 6:18PM
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ray_ratliff(z10 South Florida)

Hi all, well to answer a few questions that some of you had I am looking to grow something to about 3 feet or so tall (I am not really sure what is considered to be small medium & large in the Bonsai world). This is mostly because I would like to attach a couple of orchids, perhaps two or three of the jewel orchids that are native to Japan/ Asia. The thing that really intrigued me the most about the specimens of Bonsai that I have seen is the "dead" wood with the beautiful canopy growing out the top. I think that would be an awesome display to have a large piece of dead wood with a nice green canopy a couple beautiful miniature Cattleyas or maybe even a cool mini Vanda/ Ascocenda blooming along the dead trunk & maybe also hanging off the canopy. The reason I am so interested in the buttonwood tree as a bonsai is that I have several ghost orchids that I have been growing for about a year now, one fell off the mount & is by its lonesome on a rock (and doing pretty well I might add). I have seen ghosts clinging onto button woods in the wild & when I saw the bonsai version with the dead wood, my mind started sparking with lots of CrAzY ideas! I know that what I want to do is not easy & probably takes many people years of trial & error to get it right, but I think it is a worth while cause! Besides, IÂm 24, I have plenty of time to experiment & try new things! Maybe the best thing for me (as a previous writer pointed out) is to find a local bonsai club & hook up with a mentor. Does anyone have suggestions on a South Florida chapter? Also, do any of you have buttonwood as a bonsai specimen? If so, can you share a bit about your growing experience? Thanks for everything!

-Ray-

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 8:19PM
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lucy(6)

How about just getting some neat driftwood somewhere and doing your orchid thing that way? Don't forget your bonsai may have very different needs than the orchids growing with it and that could be a problem too - plus it wouldn't really be a 'bonsai' in the traditional sense with orchids hanging down (or up) from it.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 9:44PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

No, Lucy - Conocarpus are REGULARLY used in the creation of specimens with an extremely high % of deadwood including artificially carved and often very thin life lines. I'm not sure why you want a debate on a plant you've already admitted you're unfamiliar with ...

Incidentally, what you refer to as "stripping of bark" (jin/shari) is regularly undertaken on many genera of woody material (most often conifers, but buttonwood is an excellent and common candidate, too) other than Juniperus. E.g., I can't think of a single old looking Taxus that doesn't have a good amount of natural and artificially created deadwood - can you?

Al

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 11:10PM
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ray_ratliff(z10 South Florida)

I have looked into about a few pieces of drift wood & using it to display more plants. However, drift wood is horribly expensive (IÂve seen as cheap as $75.00/ foot & as high as $130/ foot in my area). You also have to spend weeks leeching out the salts so that it will not kill off the roots of the orchid. I do have a number of plants growing on other surfaces like cork wood, grape wood, & different types of rocks. After seeing how the bonsai can be twisted & formed into any shape you desire, I have really fallen in love with the idea of having a miniature tree that I can put some epiphytes on. I realize that what I want to do is not traditional, but I am not looking to make a display to enter into competitions. I want to make something neat to look at & that I can share with my friends & family. Visually, I think it would be a lot more interesting to see a seemingly dead piece of wood with a few branches emerging with nice green leaves & a couple tastefully placed fragrant orchids.

-Ray-

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 1:21AM
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lucy(6)

Al, I don't want a debate (it seems you might) but I still maintain there's a misunderstanding here between doing it to 'live' trunks (even Kimura stopped doing it at one point) and dead material. I have no problem with jinning dead wood, but just about the only live material successfully stripped of bark all the way up a trunk is juniper.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 5:18AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

No debate necessary, really. I'm perfectly content to let the forum decide who has stepped beyond the limits of their knowledge. ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 7:34AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Ray
I can see that your not too experienced with orchid culture . A vanda for example would get bigger than your tree also they require full sun. Ghost might be good but generally require higher humidity Jewels are mostly semi terrestrial and require lower light levels. Ghosts might be good but I'd go for some of the small twig types. much easier to culture.
My most successful has been a powderpuff tree kept under 3 feet . Planted in compressed sphagnum .,underplanted with tropical selaginella. Of the attached epiphytes .I'm using Tillandsias and polypodium fern. There is also some semi terrest. oxallis which provides continuous flowers. Two orchids, a light tolerant Bulbo and a forgiving terte vanda kept dwarfed. have a white form of spanish moss which hangs on .
This setup is fantastic when in full flower.
I prefer the compressed sphagnum as a potting medium in this climate since I maintain it in the shadehouse .MUCH less work!! lol
If your set on the BW go to some nurseries and look for a specimen around your desired size find one with as much character as possible, Start your root pruning and do your setup. Naturally you'll want to get the tree going first.
I use drip catcher trays as a container mounded with the sphag. I use holes because I water frequently.
Obviously this is not a Bonsai but what I like to call a dwarfed dish garden . maybe not what you have in mind?? gary

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 10:38AM
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ray_ratliff(z10 South Florida)

You know Gary, that sounds exactly like what I am interested in doing. Regarding the vandas, i know those guys get huge, i was thinking most about small ascocendas or other vandaceous species/ hybrids like neostylis "lou sneary" or something along those lines. But growing a "dwarfed dish garden" sounds like you are hitting the nail on the head. I would love to see some pics of your garden! I believe my e-mail is shared under my profile, you can send them there if you would not mind! Thank you to everyone who has given their input!

-Ray-

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 5:57PM
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bigshoes213(7 Sardis, Ms)

I would love to see pictures of your dwarfed dish garden also. It sounds very beautiful.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 8:56PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

ray
Now you're talking!! lol. This process takes years to develop as you can imagine. You'll have lots of failures and near misses . The Calliandra tree is almost 20 years old and I still don't consider it complete lol What I've always envisioned was a tree with hundreds of epiphytes as you see in tropical areas but about 1/3 the total volume of the real thing. Would love to have the real thing but even in zone 10 there are limits beside my grow area is only 30x75. Obviously the smaller the tree the more limitations not to mention culture restraints. Orchids can be very frustating and I don't think "dwarfing" is possible?? I moved from traditional Bonsai to dwarfing.using several different methods of constraint on the tree. My largest is kept at 8x12 feet the smallest at under two feet. . I'm seldom brave enough to risk orchids in unfavorable areas. Broms are incredibly adaptable and you can go with the "Christmas tree" approach lol
Will have to go through my pix but warn you will only show those when it looks it's best lol. Really looks sad after the latest cold front. Thank the Lord it didn't frost. I'm too lazy to learn how to post to the forum so will send the pix directly to you?? gary

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 8:02AM
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vince01

Tapla, you misunderstand. This is due to your limited knowledge. Shari and Jin relates to deadwood. The removal of bark and cambium(live tissue)from heartwood(deadwood). Depending on where it is on the tree, it will either be sharimiki or jin. Lucy is talking about removing the bark to expose the live vein, which is the cambium. This is done primarily on junipers.
However, Lucy, when the reddish skin is seen, it is not without 'bark'. The red is new bark when the flaky old bark is removed. An exposed cambium layer will not survive. You're confused as to the level of removal, and what is actually removed. Also, for 'bonsai' there is always room for creativity. The Japanese have their own methodology, as well as their own rules. One may choose to follow them, or one may go his own way.
As for growing orchids on sharied trunks, or in uros...go ahead Ray. Knock yourself out. I think it would be interesting. Don't let anyone tell you 'no'. If you want to try it out, try it out. Bonsai was adapted from the Chinese by the Japanese, and before the Chinese, Egyptians had potted plants. Now Europe and the U.S. have entered the arena. In every culture, changes will occur. We are not Japanese. We follow the art with great respect, but we are becoming a different kind of enthusiast. We are forging our own new way. There are no confines in art.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 7:40PM
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larke

Vince, are you on drugs? This thread is almost 3 yrs old (and Tapla's knowledge is almost UNlimited)!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 5:30AM
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epiphyte78(9)

If anybody subscribing to this thread is still interested in the topic...here's a recent thread I created...Epiphytes on Bonsais!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 3:37PM
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