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Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Posted by peapod13 8 South Sound (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 5, 11 at 0:11

I got a smokin' deal on a Fireglow and a Corallinum through a landscape architect friend I work with.

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Fireglow

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Corallinum

Carallinum is about 3-foot and Fireglow is about 4-foot. As the pictures show both are ball and burlap. My information is they were dug out of the ground in the last couple of weeks.

The buds are definately late in the swell period or early in the leaf period.

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Fireglow bud/early leaf

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Corallinum

Is it for sure too late to do a bare root and get them into the gritty mix?

If so, at this point, should I put them in a plastic pot for this year or would it be better to put them in a clay pot?

The root balls will fit in a 3 gallon nursery pot, so will a 5-7 gallon nursery pot be okay?

I actually was thinking of buying a couple more 7.5 gallon cedar containers and putting the trees in them for this year and just washing the containers really well next spring when I put them in the gritty mix.

Is the difference between the 5:1:1 mix and the soil they're in (I'd describe it as a sandy loam) going to be too much to use the 5:1:1 mix around the ball for this year?

Recommendations for fill soils just for this year?

Thanks all.

Blake


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 5, 11 at 10:46

I think you'll have problems unless you remove the soil because 'loam' and 'post' don't go well together. You COULD put them in a pot & fill around the rootball with more loam if the pot is partially buried and grow them in a mini-raised bed for the year if you want.

I think I would prolly cut them back hard and go with the gritty mix if you move fast. Don't worry too much about root pruning - just get the plant in a suitable soil if you want to grow it in a conventional container.

AL


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Okay, First thanks for providing a couple of different options. I know these are newby questions and you've spent years reading books, studing, attending seminars, etc amassing the knowledge you so freely share. I also know you've spent years responding to questions on these forms, and that this isn't the first time you've responded to some of these questions. I do appreciate your taking the time to share your wealth of knowledge to help me get started on the right foot.

I really like the overall shape of both trees, the Fireglow has a crotch near the bottom that has quite an acute angle and I'm trying to decide whether to remove it completely or shape into a "mother/daughter" (I believe this is called Sokan in bonsai. However, with the Fireglow, I'm more interested in 5 to 6 foot tree at maturity. So I'm just borrowing the terminology.) The Corallinum is very twiggy and needs thinning badly, but it has a shape that I like.

So with the above in mind, when you say "cut back hard", how hard is hard? All the way back to a trunk with only a limb or two like we did for the smaller trees? Is the main concern how much root mass the trees lost when dug out of the ground?

Also, if I chose to go the mini-raised bed option for this growing season, am I looking at a hard cut back next spring to balance the top and bottom when I do put them in the gritty mix?

Thanks again for all your help,

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 5, 11 at 17:15

When you grow trees in containers, especially those that aren't grown for fruit, you have a vested interest in keeping them small and compact. I not only have bonsai trees, but I also grow other trees in containers that need shaping to remain attractive. The larger they get, the faster the roots grow and the easier they topple, not to mention the more work they are.

As I look at the FG and by how things look in the picture, which can be deceiving, I'm pretty sure I would lop off the vertical trunk and build my tree around the lower branch. That would also solve the issue of having to cut it back any more, though I still would ..... and it will tolerate that w/o missing a beat. Your call though - I know it's sometimes difficult to buy a tree, take it home, and reduce it by 75%. ;-) I do it all the time, so I'm used to it.

Remember that the top of your maples will be EXTREMELY vigorous in relation to the rest of the tree, so restraining it will be required. I would thin the top heavily & cut upper branches back very short if you don't opt to remove the main trunk.

For the corallinum, I would remove the larger branch immediately to the right of the rag?, then thin heavily, again cutting back the upper 1/3 of the tree quite hard. Both trees are ok to repot now if you act right away.

Al


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Interesting. For some reason, I thought "cut back hard" might include loosing the vertical trunk on the Fireglow. I'm willing to make this cut. I wonder if maybe I can cut just above the lower limb extending to the left in the picture and train that up as a new leader or if it would be best to just remove the entire upper trunk?

The cuts on the Corallinum sound in keeping with the cuts we made on the Sensu and I'm willing to make those cuts as well.

My wife may not be happy with me, but in the end I think I can see a long range vision and shape, so I'm willing to make the cuts.

Once again Al, I really appreciate your input, experience and knowledge.

By the way, I bought these trees sight unseen, just happened to get lucky with price and shape. So I'm not overly concerned with loosing 75% of the tree, just had to talk myself into what I was pretty sure you were saying.

Gotta go check on the cedar containers and some more fir bark.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Al,

Just want to post a big thank you.

Once I talked myself into making the suggested cut to the FG, I had to do it before I let doubt change my mind.

I'm honestly not sure I would have had the courage to cut the FG as suggested without your encouragement. However, now that the cut is made, I am even happier with the shape of the tree (what used to be the lower limb).

After the "big lop", I cut the remaining branches back to two limbs per node and two or three bud sets per limb. I'm very happy with the way this tree now looks and the way I think it will grow in over time.

Unfortunately it's too late to get to the nursery that has the cedar containers I like tonight. I'm sending my wife after two of the containers and some additional cherry stone tomorrow. By tomorrow evening the new trees will be in gritty mix.

I can't say it enough Al; sincerely, thank you for sharing your experience, your knowledge, and your good eye for tree shaping with all of us.

Now after supper, off to trim the Corallinum.

I'll get some "after" pictures up tomorrow after repotting. (for future reference, incase anyone comes across this post as a search result, contrary to Al's normal "full repot" procedure, this repot will remove all the original soil but not involve a root prune, due to the timing of the repot, ie after major bud swell and leafs nearly emerging).

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Photobucket
Fireglow post prune

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Corallinum post prune

Hope I didn't scare everyone off.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 5, 11 at 23:36

Blake - You're very welcome. They were very nice trees to start with, but I know you'll be happier now that you cut them back. Besides, it's always easier to make the decision about what to take off someone else's trees. Lol I'm, kidding. ;-) I do get paid to put on workshops for groups where we take nursery trees (sometimes yamadori [collected from the wild]) & often reduce them by up to 75% or more.

Looking at your post immediately above now, VERY nice! You did a good job. The only thing I would suggest is that if you have any areas on the trees that have 3 or more branches originating from the same place on the trunk or secondary branching, that you eliminate all but two. If you leave a cluster of branches, it will thicken quickly & look fat where it shouldn't look fat. Your eye will be drawn to that flaw & it will spoil the tree's structure. I can't tell if you have that going on from the pic, but it looks like you might, and it's common in maples.

Good luck. Good job. Nice trees! Photobucket

Al



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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Thanks Al,

If you ever put on a workshop in the Puget Sound Area or Portland for that matter, I'd definitely pay to attend.

Believe it or not I took some photography classes in college (way back when ;-) ), but it's still hard for me to get a picture that shows the trees well. (Had that problem on the other three trees as well.)

Looking at the pictures I can see a few places where it does indeed look like multiple branches emanate from the same node. However, based on your instructions when we were dealing with the Sensu (a month or so ago), I made sure that there where no more than two branches (three if you count the leader) at any node and cut each limb back to no more than three nodes (two nodes in most cases) past a fork.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and also your encouragement.

I don't have much gardening knowledge, so I don't really participate in the threads, but I do lurk and read and enjoy the forums, and intend to post updates for the trees as time goes by.

I did a couple of searches, and will continue to search (changing the search terms around), but haven't really found any threads where you recommended any books related to bonsai/niwaki. All though neither of these apply directly (bonsai being a little more rigid about internode length, shape, etc and niwaki being, atleast as I understand it, more about trees in gardens rather than in containers) I'm sure the techniques would be both useful and helpful for my intended purposes.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 6, 11 at 18:30

I think John Naka's Bonsai Techniques I and BT II are about the best as far as clarifying design standards; and I like Deb Koreshoff's Bonsai and her concise line drawings as a close second. As far as the horticultural part, I was greatly influenced by the texts of Dr Alex Shigo, and the co-authors Kozlowsky/Pallardy and their texts on the physiology of woody plants.

The number of people that leave their bonsai endeavors behind roughly equals the number of people that decide to test the waters. The 'revolving door' phenomenon reflects the frustration so many discover in trying to maintain a collection with 'revolving trees'. You have to be able to keep your trees alive & healthy or you soon become discouraged. I went through it in the beginning, but I was so enamoured of the little trees that I didn't give up.

You first have to understand the plant:soil relationship to excel at bonsai or container gardening. You can be ok, but you can't be accomplished without that understanding. You need to know what makes plants tick - how they work and how they will react to what you subject them to. You get that through studying plant physiology and learning traits of individual species and cultivars. It's important to understand How Plant Growth is Limited, and how to minimize limiting factors to the greatest degree possible. Finally, you have to be willing to put some effort into it. They don't hand out green thumbs for sitting on our cans & worrying about how we can do things 'easier', or for relying on 'tried and true' methods that by today's standards might be considered mediocre. A green thumb requires work, innovation, and both the willingness and ability to adapt and think on your feet. If you have those attributes & a love of husbandry, but don't already have a green thumb - it's probably not all that far away.

Al



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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

After seeing Niwaki for the first time, at a Japanese Garden in Seattle, this fall, I was caught up - hook, line and sinker. I'm fascinated by the idea of actively shaping a tree into something that has visual interest during all four seasons. For some reason the Pinus thunbergii and the Acers caught my attention. (I also have a few Rhododendron's in my yard that I will start pruning and shaping this year.) So I spent around 3 weeks checking out library books, searching on the internet, and narrowing down more than 600 cultivars (that I looked through) of Acer palmatum and shirasawanum (others also but mostly from these two groups) to an excel spreadsheet of approximately 100, then to approximately 10-15 that had interesting leaf shapes, interesting adult trunk shape and interesting/multi-season leaf color that were no more than 10 to 15 feet tall when mature (a few are already dwarf cultivars). I thought, maybe incorrectly so, that I would have the best chance of "dwarfing" these trees. Then I found these forums and your posts/guides. After that I've bought trees from the short list and took the first step to growing them in containers.

My first goal is to keep these trees alive, which is why I've tried to read, understand, and follow your posts and ask questions when I'm not sure (unfortunately for you and without your approval, I've adopted you as a long distance mentor of sorts.) At this point I've read and am trying to follow your soils for containers guide, trees in containers guide, repotting guide and your fertilizer program.

Now that the first five trees are in a good soil and have had their first major trim. I want to keep them alive, healthy and thriving this summer (maybe next summer also), by then I hope to have garnered enough information to be able to begin to shape them.

Thank you for the book recommendations and the guides you've published here. I plan to be spending alot of time studying your guides and reading the physiology texts and basically gathering and using all the information I can to keep these trees healthy and happy this first year.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Well I got the trees into their new containers in the gritty mix tonight.

The FG was extremely root bound in a small nursery container before being planted. When the FG was dug back up recently, only about 2-3 inches of soil outside of the tangled mass of roots from the original nursery pot came out of the ground. The remainder of the root ball was still the black nursery loam mixed in with a large tangled mass of mostly 1/4" roots. I hope I didn't damage the tree by removing roots with the tree so close to being in leaf, but the roots were so badly tangled, many of them where stangling each other. I cut 4 of the most badly tangled roots that were growing straight down under the tree. These roots didn't have many of the hair roots growing off of them. I left as many of the hair roots as I could, but will have to go back and do more pruning next spring or the year after to keep the tree from becoming root bound in the 20" cedar container I put it in.

After doing the Corallinum, I wasn't soooo worried about what I had done to the FG. Unlike the FG, the Corallinum must have been grown in the ground since being very young. It had a large tap root growing down about 6" where it was cut off (probably when dug out of the ground). There were maybe five 1/4" roots growing out radially from the tap root at various depths. There were very few hair roots in the root ball. However, there were two 2" long by 1/8"
diameter very white (I'm guessing new) roots. I'm hoping this is a sign that the tree still has lots of energy stored from last year and was beginning to push new roots and will continue to push new roots now that it's in the better medium.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 7, 11 at 8:59

Just keep the plants cool (above 32*) and out of wind as long as you can. It's likely that the buds will open slowly this year as the plant gains root strength (more fine roots). Maples are very tolerant of root work, and it's ok to repot them after budswell. I actually have some notes somewhere that indicate many cultivars are BEST repotted right as leaves are opening, so I'm confident you'll be fine. You might just loosely cover the top of the soil with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to help hold water vapor in the top several inches of soil so you don't need to water so frequently to keep it damp. Keep any plastic wrap from contacting the trunk, though. I never do this because of the time/fuss factor, but it is helpful.

What you related above is pretty good testimony as to why it's important to look to not only top pruning, but to regular root maintenance as well, when considering your long-term maintenance program. There is just no way to maintain plants in top vitality w/o taking root congestion and size distribution into consideration. The goal is to have more than 2/3 of the o/a root mass in roots 1/8" or thinner in diameter. This isn't just a bonsai rule of thumb, it is a requirement for any tree that has at any time been allowed to get to a degree of root compaction such that the root/soil mass can be lifted from the pot intact. Trees left to root congestion beyond that point require rootwork to eliminate tight roots as a potential limiting factor.

You're definitely on the right track, if being a 'container arborist' is your goal. I applaud your diligence & hope your enthusiasm never wanes - your sense of accomplishment/satisfaction is linked to both.

Al


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Just a quick note for future record keeping.

The Fireglow was first into leaf. A majority of the buds swelled to probably 4 times the size they were last week and burst open with groups of 4 soft tiny little leaves.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 11, 11 at 17:52

Photobucket

Al


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Pictures of very young leaves on Fireglow and swollen buds on Corallinum

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Again for future record keeping or if someone happens to be searching for photos of buds/bud swell, notice how much larger the buds are/were in these pictures than in the original pictures.

When I thought buds were swelling and leaves were imminent, they had just began to swell.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Tree update

The Fireglow continues to out perform all the other trees. Shoots are growing vigorously, out to three leaf sets per shoot already. Some back budding beginning as well.

Photobucket

For as much of the root mass as was lost on the Corallinum, this tree continues to impress me with the amount of bud extension, leaf growth and back budding.

Photobucket

The Corallinum leaves are very pretty with yellow veins on pink/light red leaves.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 22, 11 at 21:14

Glad you made the switch?

Al


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Happy I went ahead and got both trees into gritty mix? Absolutely! Glad (with your encouragement) I cut both trees back? Absolutely! Glad all five of my little container trees are doing so well so far? Absolutely! Glad to have found a site with a container tree expert who freely shares info with beginners? Absolutely!!!!!!
I just can't say it enough Al, thank you for all your help, encouragement, guide writing and patience!!!!!
Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

Update:
Fireglow: Leaves are fully open and "hardening off" now. They're also starting to show a little green in places. Not sure if that's because we've had so little sun here? I'm hopefull that they'll retain most of their red through the summer.?
Fireglow 5_2_2011

I'm not sure that I actually bought a Fjellheim (may have been mislabeled at nursery?) The shoots and veins aren't red on this tree as they are in most pictures I've seen.
Fjellheim? 5_2_2011

As long as the trees continue to change so rapidly, I'll continue to post frequent updates. I'm really enjoying watching these trees put on new growth and the rapid changes that occur in leaf size, shape and color.

Hope I don't over do the updates.

Blake


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RE:Corallinum Update

I love this little tree. Very interesting leaf shapes and continuely changing colors this spring. The leaves have a folded or "chrinkly" shape that don't come out very well in the photos.

Corallinum 5_2_2011

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 2, 11 at 21:14

Please - keep sharing. It's fun to watch someone else's trees develop.

AL


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

A couple of full tree shots.

The more I look at this Fireglow the more the ultimate shape solidifies in my mind. I'm very glad that Al (tapla) encouraged me to remove the main trunk on this tree. The lower limb is going to turn into a beautiful 2-3' tall tree. The basic shape of this tree is there. There are multiple plains (vertically) and multiple clusters (in the round). Now, over the next couple of years, I need to put into practice what I've been reading about judicious pruning, bud pinching (to reduce internode length and finish each limb), and partial defoliation (to reduce leaf size).
Probably my favorite tree at this point.
Photobucket

The Corallinum (due mostly to Al's help in pruning) is developing its top on on side. This tree certainly has shown resilience after loosing alot of it's root mass when dug out of the ground this spring. Now to keep the top in check so the bottom back buds and begins to fill in.
Photobucket
Some back budding is already beginning low on this tree. Yay!

Thanks for the encouragement and guidance Al.

Blake


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RE: Two new trees/too late for full repot & 1 year pot options

After reading some more about how trees grow and how different types of pruning effect trees I've been bud pinching and pruning shoots. I've basically pruned everything in the top to one set of leaves per shoot. The lower and smaller limbs I've left the shoots alone hoping to thicken those limbs and allow more growth down low.
Fireglow

Corallinum

I've also learned more about how shoots develop and grow, so maybe as lateral buds are activated later this summer or next spring, I'll be able to proactively prune before energy is used on shoots that will be trimmed.

My goals for the rest of this year are to encourage ramification on the Fireglow and growth lower on the tree for the Corallinum.

Blake


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