Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Deciduous Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Jay Wilson on January 13, 2010, 09:55 PM

Title: Native Elm
Post by: Jay Wilson on January 13, 2010, 09:55 PM
Here's a florida elm (Ulmus Americana floridana?). I collected this about four years ago. This is front and back, before and after defoliating. Any suggestions, especially about a pot, are welcome. Thanks.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: ken duncan on January 14, 2010, 06:37 AM
Very nice Jay. I love the Elms that You have posted over the years.
Ken
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: rockm on January 14, 2010, 09:09 AM
Wider, shallower, oval, greyish green glaze

Excellent tree...
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: bwaynef on January 14, 2010, 10:23 AM
My first thought when seeing this thread was ..."That's got to be the largest golf ball I've ever seen!"

Seriously, I was fooled into thinking this tree was MUCH larger than it was.  It took me a while for it to register that your size reference was indeed a golf ball.

I agree w/ rockm on the pot.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: M.B. on January 14, 2010, 11:34 AM
Wider, shallower, oval, greyish green glaze

Excellent tree...

I know wider and shallower pots with certain trees give a better overall appearance, but why do people not take into consideration the zone that the tree is living in. I also live in zone 9, but in California, and will usually go for a deeper pot for the sake of the tree to deal with the numerous 100 plus degree days in the summer. Yes the shallower pot "looks" better, but do you grow for better health and less stress of the tree or looks?
I also agree,,,, Excellent tree!
Mary B.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: rockm on January 14, 2010, 11:42 AM
The tree is in Fla.  may be in Zone 9, but it's not California. It is more humid and wet. It is a tropical 9, not a Mediterranean 9. There's a difference. Shelter from the sun is almost a given in both areas, but there are different considerations for containers. A less deep pot isn't really necessary in extremely humid areas, look at the shallow pots used to grow ficus in tropical areas...

Elm, especially American elm (which this is a subspecies) is also quite vigorous and capable of handling a shallower pot, IMO.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: dorothy schmitz on January 14, 2010, 12:21 PM

 Very nice tree, Jay.

 -dorothy
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: M.B. on January 14, 2010, 05:57 PM
So rockm, I need to clarify and understand. Sauna 100 degree heat is O.K. and desert 100 degree heat is not. I get that, but wouldn't the tree roots still be happier in 3 inches of soil vs. 1 1/2 inches? Even in a super humid environment doesn't it still stress the roots to be closer to the air or if it's humid/wet enough, it doesn't even matter?
Mary B.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: johng on January 15, 2010, 06:33 AM
Great Tree Jay!!  Very nice nice branch development in a short time.  I personally do not care for blue glaze with elms.  If this were my tree I would probably go with something oval, unglazed and maybe in a grey tone. As Mark suggested, I think I would also use a slightly wider and shallower container.  As I am sure you are aware, aesthetic guidelines suggest the width of the pot should be 2/3 the height of the tree and the depth equal to the width of the base of the trunk.  I think I might also appreciate a slightly wider container that might suggest a single tree growing in an open field.

Its been discussed/argued many many times across several forums (so I am NOT trying to start the conversation again) but Mary, it is most likely a misconception to think that a pot that is wider and shallower will hold less water.  In this case, this pot is only 2" or so deep to start.

Again...fantastic tree Jay...I would like to think that the rapid development of this tree is due to the fact that you did not rush it into a bonsai container and instead took your time developing it in grow box.  Great Work!!

Thanks,
John

Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: rockm on January 15, 2010, 11:40 AM
"So rockm, I need to clarify and understand. Sauna 100 degree heat is O.K. and desert 100 degree heat is not. I get that, but wouldn't the tree roots still be happier in 3 inches of soil vs. 1 1/2 inches? Even in a super humid environment doesn't it still stress the roots to be closer to the air or if it's humid/wet enough, it doesn't even matter?
Mary B."


Mary,

I'm sorry if my recommendation upset you. I certainly had no intention of being controversial with it.

In my experience in growing elms, native and non-native, here in the East, I've  found that they can take shallower pots. I've got a big collected cedar elm (5 inches diameter, four feet tall) in a pot that's maybe 2 1/2 inches deep. It's been in that container for almost a decade now. It has been through some extreme temps during that time, from 103 F to -3 F. It hasn't had any problems. I take common sense precautions in the most extreme weather--covering the pot with old T_shirts on the hottest summer days and mulching it in well in the winter.

The physical dynamics of a wider, shallower pot can actually make it hold onto water, as deeper pots tend to have better proportional drainage than shallower ones--I can't explain the physics behind it.

Additionally, I don't really understand the concern about roots' proximity to air. Roots need air, bonsai soil is made to promote gas exchange. I don't know if a root "prefers" to be buried in two, six, or 12 inches of soil. I do know that studies have proven that over 90 percent of a  tree's roots are in the first six to 12 inches of soil. The remainder, buried deep are primarily for structural support of the plant. The deepest roots are grown by desert-living species, while the shallowest systems are grown among tropical species.

Tree roots grow where they can. They do prefer to grow in the dark, but that doesn't stop them from surfacing:
http://www.learn2grow.com/gardeningguides/landscaping/maintenance/surfacetreeroots.aspx (http://www.learn2grow.com/gardeningguides/landscaping/maintenance/surfacetreeroots.aspx)

Studies have shown that adding even four to six inches of soil over tree roots dramatically reduces the amount of water and oxygen available to them (roots need oxygen):
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/PUBS/Garden/02926.html (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/PUBS/Garden/02926.html)

Also, I again point to existing plantings as evidence that shallower pots work well for many species:
http://bonsaijournal.com/larch-with-taper.php (http://bonsaijournal.com/larch-with-taper.php)
http://www.artofbonsai.org/galleries/jsmith.php (http://www.artofbonsai.org/galleries/jsmith.php)
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Smoothleaf_Elm_bonsai_257,_December_24,_2008.jpg (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Smoothleaf_Elm_bonsai_257,_December_24,_2008.jpg)
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Jay Wilson on January 15, 2010, 07:06 PM
Wow! Thanks everyone for your comments! This is one of my trees that actually looks pretty good in a photo. Maybe the only one :)
I agree with the pot assessments...a little lower,a little longer and grayish/greenish.

Mary, I can grow these elms in fairly shallow pots as long as I use plenty of organics to hold the moisture. Last year I tried using a fair amount of lava in my mix only to find my shallower potted trees suffering from drying out before I got home to water.
I think that what you can grow in what size pot has a lot to with the combination of the kind of tree, your climate and most important, your potting mix and watering ability.
I'm leaning towards growing in a larger pot and, if I ever do show a tree, have a properly sized show pot to put it in for a short while. These fl. elms have no problem with hard root work in the heat of summer.



Jay
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Steven on January 15, 2010, 07:54 PM




Jay
[/quote]These fl. elms have no problem with hard root work in the heat of summer                                                                                                                                                                               They don't suffer from sugar shock being in full leaf and the roots disturbed(repotting, root pruning, etc)?
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: John Hill on January 15, 2010, 08:39 PM
Hi Jay,
Looking good!!

A Friend in bonsai
John
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: M.B. on January 16, 2010, 12:23 AM
rockm, Your response didn't upset me, I just wasn't understanding about shallow pots and heat, and shallow pots with dry or moist heat. My concern about the roots and air was not the mere contact with air, but with hot air. I grasp the concept that if it's moist and humid enough, the heat isn't as big a concern for a tough species like elms.
I am interested in your covering you pots with old t-shirts. When it gets hot around here I move the trees to a more shaded part of the yard and  set them on the ground, but it's slowly becoming  too shaded as the big trees get larger and cover more of the yard. Does covering the pots make it possible to leave the trees in full sun when it's 100 plus degrees.

Jay, I'm sorry I got your thread side tracked. Back to your beautiful tree. When you said you would add more organic, what specific organics are you adding? I have read about adding chopped sphagnum moss or pine bark. How big was your tree when collected? Did you have to reduce it much or was it about this size and you only needed to work on ramification?
Mary B.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: donmaple on January 16, 2010, 10:41 AM
Jay, this is a really beautiful elm. Very natural looking which gives it the appearance of being larger than it is. Great job! Nice ramification that makes it look like a monster elm. Looks like you are already heading the right way with your pot choice too.

Jay if you don't mind...
Mary, here is a simple experiment that will help you understand the physics of water. Find an ordinary dish washing sponge, about 2"x4"x1/2". Now wet it thouroughly and holding it flat in your hand run water onto it until it drips out. Wait for it to quit dripping, this is as much water as it will hold. Now turn it up on its side or end and notice that water will drip out. Gravity will put more pressure on the taller water column and the waters affinity for itself cannot counteract the higher force of gravity. So you can see that given the same area (the size of the sponge) a flatter wider area will hold more water than a taller area. And your potting medium plays an important role as well, a finer spongier ( sifted composted materials) medium will hold more water than a course solid (rock) medium. Its because water holds better at it's surface, so the more surface area the more water. I hope this helps you.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: noissee on January 16, 2010, 10:53 AM
Jay, where do these elms usually grow? (hardwood stands, pine stands, swamp or bog, field, etc.)
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: M.B. on January 17, 2010, 01:56 PM
donmaple, that's a great visual to explain water retention. It makes sense that gravity plays such an important role and spreading water/soil out over a bigger shallow area will actually hold more. Thanks! This may make me rethink some of my trees and the pots they're in.
Mary B.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Jerry Norbury on January 17, 2010, 04:25 PM
Very nice - lovely proportions.

Are there older photos of this tree?
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Jay Wilson on January 17, 2010, 07:41 PM
Hey Steven, I'm not sure what you mean by 'sugar shock', but I've taken half or more of the root ball off in the middle of summer and most of the time the tree doesn't seem to care. sometimes it will look a little wilty for a day or two, but they always just keep on growing.

John Hill, it's good to see you here. Thanks!

Mary.  I don't think you sidetracked my thread at all. Most of us are here to learn.
I use freshly ground and sifted pine bark-I soak it for a few days to get it saturated with water- and upwards to 10% dried sphagnum. or even more if I'm potting blueberries. So far, it works for me. Then again, most every thing I have is in grow boxes or oversize pots...I can usually only water once a day.

This tree was about the same size when I collected it in 2005.  I'll hunt for a pic later.


Don,  Thanks, and I don't mind at all

noissee,  Good question as to where these elms grow.. I found mine on the side of my drive on the high side of the ditch. This general area is classified as wetlands, though it's dry most of the time.


Jerry, I'll hunt up some more pic for a later post.

And a special thanks to Dorothy, you do a far better job on these Fl. elms than I can hope to.

Jay
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Jay Wilson on January 18, 2010, 09:17 AM
As promised, here are some earlier pictures of this tree.
The first one is of the tree as part of a group that I put together when first collected. I didn't like the group, so the tree became a single.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Jay Wilson on January 18, 2010, 09:31 AM
And the rest
The last two show how the tree roots grew so strongly that they pushed the tree right out of the pot.

I had been leaving the pot partially submerged in water because of it drying out too fast during the summer. This was the year I had tried to go mostly non-organic in my soil mix, and the small pots just wouldn't hold enough moisture to last until the evening when I got home to water. It's amazing how the roots grew when they had all the water they could use.

Jay
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Dennis_S on January 18, 2010, 06:43 PM
I like this tree better in full leaf.  The branches are confusing to my eye.  Very nice when its leafed out. 
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: ericrobinson on January 18, 2010, 09:41 PM
Jay,
Great tree and progression shots!  I like the scar line in the front...gives the tree character.  I also like the winter silhouette as the ramification is coming along well.  Thanks for sharing it with us.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: rockm on January 19, 2010, 08:16 AM
"When it gets hot around here I move the trees to a more shaded part of the yard and  set them on the ground, but it's slowly becoming  too shaded as the big trees get larger and cover more of the yard. Does covering the pots make it possible to leave the trees in full sun when it's 100 plus degrees."

Mary,

I think it depends on species, size of the pot/tree and your location. Covering the pot with a white T-shirt on hotter summer days can help keep pot temperatures down, while allowing the tree to remain in the sun. There are some caveats, though. Smaller pots are more vulnerable to temperature and evaporation. The smaller the pot, the more you have to monitor it and the more shelter may benefit it on days when extreme temps are forecast.

 I've found that native species are among the toughest in a given location. I routinely leave my Texas collected live oak and cedar elms out in full sun here in Va. all summer-with no protection. No. Va. piedmont is roughly the same USDA Zone 7 as Dallas, Texas. We get similar high August temps, but cool down in the autumn faster than Dallas, though.

 On one 102 F August day that was 102 F, I recorded a temperature in excess of 120F on the live oak's pot. It showed no signs of stress. It is a very large tree in a very large pot--which holds five gallons plus of soil...That mass protects the roots very well in cold and hot temps.

As the size of the pot decreases, temperature's effects become more dramatic and immediate. Smaller pots heat and cool much faster than a larger one. Mass protects roots. Lower temperatures in the interior of the pot also tend to keep water from evaporating.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: JTGJr25 on January 19, 2010, 10:20 AM
Very nice elm Jay.  This tree gives me a very warm feeling reminding me of the trees that line my street back home.  I like it both in and out of leaf.  Both have a very natural look.

Rockm, after describing your oak I am now very interested in seeing this large tree.  Care to share?

Tom
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Jay Wilson on January 22, 2010, 08:34 AM
Posted by: Dennis_S
I like this tree better in full leaf.  The branches are confusing to my eye.  Very nice when its leafed out. 

Thanks Dennis, I didn't have any good pics of the tree in leaf in 2009 but , for the most part, they were much smaller than the pic shown from 2008. The branches are much less confusing in person.

Eric, Thanks, and you're welcome! I love the scar as well, but it is slowly disappearing as time goes by.

Tom, Thank you.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: rockm on January 22, 2010, 09:13 AM
Tom,

I don't own a decent digital camera, so no decent, useable pic...I used to have one of the tree on another forum. That forum has since gone away.

I got the tree from Vito Megna, in Austin about a dozen or so years ago. Vito had some truly outstanding (and big) collected stock...
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: bonsaikc on January 22, 2010, 10:04 AM
And the rest
The last two show how the tree roots grew so strongly that they pushed the tree right out of the pot.

I had been leaving the pot partially submerged in water because of it drying out too fast during the summer. This was the year I had tried to go mostly non-organic in my soil mix, and the small pots just wouldn't hold enough moisture to last until the evening when I got home to water. It's amazing how the roots grew when they had all the water they could use.

Jay

Jay, in my job I am gone for 14 hours some days (with commute) and found the only sure way to make certain my trees have the water they need was to build a mist system for them with a good timer. A starter kit from DripworksUSA is only about $50 and the timer less than that or more, depending on how fancy you want to get. That way my trees get watered a couple of times through the day and I check them when I get home in the evening. It has made my life much easier.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Jay Wilson on January 22, 2010, 10:28 AM
LoL. That has been on my list of things to do for a long time. It would certainly be easier with an automatic system.. Maybe this year.....
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: bonsaikc on January 22, 2010, 02:09 PM
The thing is, it's cheap and takes very little time to set up initially...it's well worth it.
Title: Re: Native Elm
Post by: Zach Smith on February 16, 2010, 10:16 AM
Ditto what bonsaikc says, Jay.  I fight drought and high heat all summer long down here in the Deep South, and without a misting system and timer that makes it come on to both cool and water, your trees won't stand much of a chance.  I've found that any fear of overwatering is unfounded when using a mist system (versus say deluging during the day, and drip systems can fail if the soil goes alkaline and you get channeling).  The trees grow a lot better, and you don't have to rush home to find wilted leaves, drench the tree, recover by morning, then repeat the process.  This kills your trees sooner or later, I know because I've done it.

Very nice elm you've got going on, by the way.  You've done an excellent job developing it.

Zach