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Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Posted by shmooey 6, Chicago (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 3, 08 at 13:11

I finally brought home an ignored and abused Operculicarya decaryi from my work- where it had been repeatedly forgotten about, and at least once a week gotten knocked over out of it's pot onto the floor. It has no leaves due to all of the above- most of the time they get knocked off. It has been in our store at least 2 years and im not sure how old the tree itself is. I do not know if i want to really bonsai the tree, yet- but i do want to do some initial shaping to help the overall look of the plant. Ive never done any pruning or shaping before so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Also, can anyone give me some basic information on their care? Should i feed it with anything? It is currently potted in a mix of crushed lava rock and pine bark fines i believe.

Here is a link that might be useful: photos of the tree


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Hi, the first thing I'd do is make a firm little scratch halfway up the trunk and see if what's under there is green or not. Not = dead, green = alive. If it's alive, then I'd get it out of any 'fines', bark or not, and replace them with perlite or larger bark bits. Then I'd chop it in half just below a node, get it into the sun and see what happens. It certainly looks like it has potential - good movement, etc., but that pot won't help much if you're thinking of bonsai, so when you repot (and also get rid of any old woody roots with few new feeders on them) don't be afraid to hack off 1/3 of the ball and try a shallower (relatively) and wider pot.


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Oh the tree is definitely alive, it puts out new leaves every once and a while (even without the watering). it is putting out more quickly as ive been taking care of it. Mainly id just like advice on shaping or pruning it, and what it's care SHOULD be. Cutting off half the tree wont harm it? Ive never done it before so it makes me nervous. The only sun that the plant will be able to receive is direct sun from my windows- i have no outdoor space to keep it.


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Ok, what you need to know is that most bonsai are not grown up into little trees, but cut back down from larger ones, and then the fat but tapered trunk (that looks 'old') is allowed to grow new, smaller branches, adding to the illusion of the tree's overall age. Not all trees can be chopped as readily as others and grow back, or back-bud (grow new branches lower down on the trunk), but I think you should have no trouble with yours, but to be safe, don't cut below the lowest branch, and do leave that/those in any case even if not forever, because they're the ones that help fatten the lower trunk. I think your tree will look great cut back just about halfway which still leaves a fair number of branches, plus if you also trim the longer ones, you'll develop 'ramification' - new, shorter bu more numerous twiggy branching and foliage. The cutting stimulates new growth as it does in most plants. And if you want to know more about the species, go to the cactus forum on GW here, and Google the name.


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New growth

Hi again- I did what Lucy suggested and cut it back about half way back in june. Now it is doing fine and has lots of new growth and branches. Photo link attached. However, i think its a little leggier than it is supposed to be- probably not enough sun in my apartment for it. Regardless, it looks funny shaped now, with all its new branches. Would anyone have any suggestions on what to do next with him? Also, is it okay to prune now, or should that happen at a specific point during the season?

Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: New growth


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Hi again, it looks beautiful! You know tho' it would look even more beautiful if you do a few more things. As it has had a lot done this year, even tho' it's indoors, if you can stand to wait til next spring it would be best, though you can trim back the longest stragglers (and should). I would definitely get it out of that pot (in spring) into a real bonsai pot, lower and wider, with the tree offset about 1/3 of the way from one end rather than in the middle (the overhung part overhanging the 2/3 of soil). Then get selective about branches - the 'rules' say to alternate them, rather than having 2 parallel each other on the same side closely, but still try to leave something for all sides rather than a flat 2 sided look, but use your judgment about the rules to be sure you don't cut what might look good regardless - take time to decide. And don't be afraid to shorten them even radically depending on what you're going for. I think it looks quite pretty though - do what you want, rather than trying to make it look like a 'bonsai' someone else made up.


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Nice eye pleasing trunk movement!

I am a hobbyist and grow several specimens.

I think that the above advice is good. I prefer to let those branches develop for at least one season because they often take a long while to thicken. Same thing goes for the trunk.

As you say, it does have the tendency to put on 'leggier' internodes. My plants are outdoor grown.

Happy Viewing! From Ankrara's Collection

A Warm Hello from Ankrara's Hobby Corner


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Thank you both for the advice! I will definitly wait another season before doing anything major to it's shape (but probably, as lucy said, will trim back the longest branches). It will give me time to find the perfect pot for it. Hopefully in a year i will live somewhere that it can go outside for the summers too.

Just to clarify- should i leave it in the pot it is in for another year, or repot it this next (09)spring and then leave it alone for a year, until spring 2010?

Idont know if ill really follow most of the bonsai rules- i really just want to make this plant all that it can be- just gotta figure out how to work with it!

thanks again for all the help!

thanks again!


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Read my last post again re your Q.


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

After doing a search, I came upon this thread, and thought I would get some needed, useful, information. Since all the photos were deleted, this thread is now useless...to me, anyway.

This is a problem. Is this deletion done by the original posters...or, the Garden Web? Deleted photos are too common on many older threads, covering many subjects. Very annoying, to say the least. It's like ripping pages out of a book.

Older threads...including photos, are there for reference, and should be left as originally posted.

Frank


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

i hear you Frank!!!

Laura


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

It's my understanding that photos are removed by the original poster from Photobucket or whatever source they used. I don't think it's done by GW.

I know I have deleted photos from my photobucket and it gives a notice that all links will be broken, resulting in removing them from GW.

Frank,
I hope you find what you are looking for in other threads.

Laura~
Hi! I will be starting a bonsai of some sort soon. :-)

JoJo


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Frank- Unfortunatly, my flickr account only displays a certain number of photos now and these must be past that number, now. I never removed them myself. On a positive note, which may be helpful- this plant is still going strong, and took very well to all sorts of questionable pruning. I even took about half of its top off to get more branching- and new growth appeared everywhere. It is now indoors under lights in the winter, and outside during the summer, in a bonsai pot, and gets routine shaping and plucking to maintain a certain look.


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

To all: Thanks for the response to my missing/deleted photo questions and vexations....however....still annoying not to see the older photos. But hey, that's life.

Shmooey...

So nice to read that the Operc. is alive and well. You have given me valuable training information in your last posting, especially regarding the plant's response to pruning. Nice to read about the growth response to your trunk-chop.


Now for some very specific cultural questions:

Has the plant always been in a bonsai pot, and have the roots been trimmed and restricted? Was the plant ever in a training bed, and then, placed into a bonsai pot for display?

While growing under lights, can I assume that you do not allow the plant to go dormant?

When placed outside for the Summer months...do you grow it hot, and hard to minimize growth, and to fatten up the trunk?

What growing medium do you use? I use a quick-draining mix for all my "Fat-Plants"...but this also means constant watering when the weather starts to broil. Just curious.

Has the trunk fattened up noticeably after the trunk-chop, and, under your culture? The Operc. sounds like a very nice plant to grow, and is very forgiving material.

Thanks for any additional information that might be offered.

Frank

********************************************************************** ***********************************************************

Last year I purchased 18 seedling from "Botanic Wonders", and have grown them in a community pot over the Summer of 2012. I also braided the "trunks" together into one, fat, "composite stem"...and I am hoping as the plants continue to grow and fatten, that the individual stems will eventually fuse together into a very wide, but short stem, with branching growing from the top portion of the super-caudex...like a Baobab tree. The wiry stems were very easy to twist and braid together, and the plants seem to be doing well. The stems have also gotten much thicker. The composite trunk is approx. 15"-18" tall X 4" wide at the base. All 18 stems have been trained to become branches growing out, and from, the top portion. Some have also been twisted together to form thicker "branches". Only time will tell if this will work. By the way, the composite trunk consisting of 18 original stems has been wrapped in a few places to constrict, and facilitate the fusing of trunk. I used some clear, flexible, hospital-type tape, that will allow the trunk/stems to expand, but still holds them in place so the cambium layers can fuse.

I've seen "Money Palms" -Pachira aquatica that have been braided and fused...so why not Opercs?


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

Hey Frank!

----Has the plant always been in a bonsai pot, and have the roots been trimmed and restricted? Was the plant ever in a training bed, and then, placed into a bonsai pot for display?

nursery pot till repotted in current bonsai pot 09/08/09 (in preperation for exhibit)
minimal secondary roots, mainly big main root so I did not trim roots at all
never in a training bed

-----While growing under lights, can I assume that you do not allow the plant to go dormant?

when night temps drop below 50 I bring him into the basement under 12 hrs of grow lights for the winter.
Winter 2009 & 2010 he did go dormant and lost all leaves (and worried me)
2011 he was stronger and lost less leaves and so far this year hasn't lost any

-----When placed outside for the Summer months...do you grow it hot, and hard to minimize growth, and to fatten up the trunk?\

I don't understand what growing hot and hard means- can you explain? He sits under my raised deck, getting indirect sun all day. The trunk is fattening and bulging some but I do protect from the hot KS sun because it burns his delicate leaves. Maybe I shouldn't worry about the leaves as much, and concentrate on the trunk growth.

----What growing medium do you use? I use a quick-draining mix for all my 'Fat-Plants'...but this also means constant watering when the weather starts to broil. Just curious.
He is in a fast draining mix of 1/3 crushed hardened clay, 1/3 peat/potting soil (organic), 1/3 aeration - such as poultry grit/lava rock
I tend my bonsai trees everyday so fast draining soil is okay for me.

-----Has the trunk fattened up noticeably after the trunk-chop, and, under your culture? The Operc. sounds like a very nice plant to grow, and is very forgiving material.

The trunk has fattened a bit. I don't know if the pruning assisted in that or it it has finally established more roots. It's a beautiful tree, but a bit hard to train,
The leaves are so delicate that any wiring strips them off. It likes to grow wild and wiggly so it's not the best bonsai material.
I am curious about the "hot and hard" growing term. Perhaps this summer I'll un-pot him (since he's due for a re-potting anyway) put him in a growing bed and help him get stronger...


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RE: Shaping an older Operculicarya decaryi

shmooey....

Thanks for the very detailed explanations about your growing methods. Nice of you to take so much of your time to answer each point.

Growing "hot and hard"...or, growing a plant "hard"... as it was explained to me....growing a plant in full, bright sun/high light levels, giving it only enough water to keep it alive, restricting the roots, using small pots a minimum of food, using poor soils...generally, stressing a plant, and making a plant struggle to keep alive....as opposed to growing a plant with plenty of everything, and giving it the "lush-life"... i.e. food, water, cool breezes, a few Daiquiris, big pots, or anything, that will cause a plant to push extra growth that's soft, juicy, and vulnerable to diseases, insects, and damage.

Growing a caudex plant "hard" is supposed to trigger a survival response, and the plant will then store any available food, nutrients, and water in the caudex, thus, making the plant grow fatter. That's the theory, and I have seen many experienced succulent/caudex-plant growers refer to this growing regimen.

The rest of your explanations were very specific, informative, and very helpful.

Thanks again. Good luck with your Operc.

Frank


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