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starting bonsai

Posted by montane1 7a-NC (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 30, 08 at 20:43

I saw on some bonsai sites that the traditional way to start bonsai is from seed. Do any native trees NOT take to bonsai? I was thinking about a white oak, and maybe a local hickory. Maybe a dawn redwood - they're so striking when they lose their needles. By the way, do all native tree bonsai need to stay outside (per the recent post) or are they okay if they're started indoors?
Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: starting bonsai

Sure there are some trees, shrubs, etc. that don't make good bonsai, for various reasons, but I know hickory is used and I assume white oak (not so familiar with it), especially if leaves are not enormous by nature, and internodes (space between twigs/buds) are not overly long (presuming they get enough light to begin with). Certainly you can start trees indoors, get them outside as soon as possible in flats, or ?? (as long as they're protected from wind and drying out), then put them out in enough time (Aug.) to get established before it gets cold.


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RE: starting bonsai

I would debate the fact that the traditional way to start bonsai is from seed. In any case, it does not mean that you have to limit yourself to propagation from seeds to obtain material. Other methods of propagation are often used (cuttings, air layering, etc), you can also purchase plants from nurseries (bonsai specialized or not), and you can also collect specimens (with permission, of course).

- Audric


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RE: starting bonsai

From seed is a very slow way to start bonsai. Not many people do this at all. As far as species go, try googling "bonsai [species name]" to see if anyone has done it before; as said the main concern is presumably going to be whether the leaves will reduce or whether they're going to look huge and ridiculous.


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RE: starting bonsai

Hi
I'm not familiar with the species you name but seed is so slow and tedious. The best way in my opinion is to start with an old potted specimen with as much character as possible. Healthy but defintely abused lol. This will save you years of growing.
If you intend to keep the plant in the house I'd choose a tropical species that will adapt to constant warmth and low light. I personally like flowering trees that are not deciduous. If you have an outdoor area that can be protected from all the things that can happen to a potted plant go for it.lol Most plants that go dormant can't survive without a rest period. So you will have to provide seasonal temp. changes as well as a tree that has no foliage for extended periods.
I keep most of my dwarfed trees in a shadehouse to protect from wind ,squirrels who like to pull them uplol and a setting raised above ground level. Also I can't grow temperate plants at all anyway lol. good luch with wwhatever you decide lol gary


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RE: starting bonsai

Montane- I would agree with other posters here that it is more convenient to buy an already-trained bonsai. However, I think I tend to go with starting seeds, too (Now I'm not at all experienced with bonsai. I have not trained or kept any bonsai yet, though I do have some cherry seeds from previously consumed cherries outside to sprout. These are just my opinions and thoughts, so don't treat them as law or anything). However, I wouldn't suggest starting future bonsai from seed "just because it's the traditional way to do things." If you are interested in doing it this way because that's how you want to do it, though, then go for it! You should be forewarned,though, that it could be 5-10 years before you "finish" a bonsai this way.

As for tree species, I don't know. Beyond judging the suitability from Lucy's guidelines, it may be an experiment to see what works. If you're starting seeds yet this year, you should probably get a move on it pretty soon, so that the plants have a sufficiently long growing season.

Hope this helps,
-Jmcat


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RE: starting bonsai

How about adopting trees from the local landscape? I understand from another post that outside trees should stay outside and have their winter dormancy? I'd really like to train a couple of local natives to bonsai forms.


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RE: starting bonsai

Montane - Theoretically not a bad idea, but in practice, you need to know how and when to do it, and most important, how to follow up (ya don't just dig it up and plonk it wherever), as yamadori (trees taken from nature) don't do well at all without experience and knowledge. Your best off to start with small (3-5 yr old) stuff from local garden centres. They're relatively inexpensive, will be healthier than 'mall-sai', and there's always another one to practice on if something goes wrong (which sounds mean, but it's true). They're more likely to be, if not actual natives, then equivalent in terms of cold hardiness and other things, plus there's going to be more information available on them for you to make use of. One thing you can always do, if the trees are on your property, is learn to 'bonsai' trees already in the ground (at the right time of year, etc.) without digging them up or worrying yet about how to deal with roots, etc. but do consider not just approaching a nice little tree that's been fighting for life out there and starting to randomly hack away at it, before doing research. Go to www.bonsai4me.com, www.evergreengardenworks.com, www.bonsaitalk.com, and start learning!


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RE: starting bonsai

Thanks for all the help, everybody. Sounds like I've got a lot to learn. The sites you suggested are a GREAT resource, and a full support to all the warnings to be careful. I'll probably take some of all the suggestions. There is a local bonsai grower who lives near and vends on HWY 220 near my home. And, there are some trees I could "bonsai" in place, without digging them up. Any good guidelines for doing that?


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RE: starting bonsai

Measure twice, cut once :-). First find out what the trees are, so you at least have that reference to look up - not everything will 'work' - and again do read those sites (esp. the middle one in detail, as there's so much good info. there on 'outdoor' trees. If you cut the 'wrong' branch(es) off something, not knowing why it's wrong (either for that tree (various reasons), the season, aesthetically, or otherwise, you can't glue it back on! Please work on patience - you don't want to get discouraged by killing trees!


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RE: starting bonsai

Hi folks.
I live south of Boston. We have some land with woods. I have a bunch of young trees that I want to train. There is one white pine seedling that I've been working on for a couple of years while it's still in the ground. I've pinched needle groups as they start growing, removed several branches and trimmed back most of therest at least once to get the trunk thicker. I've also used a shovel and dug down 8-12" from the trunk to get the roots used to being trimmmed. When should I actually transplant this bad boy into a pot? This coming spring?


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