Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => Deciduous Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: leila on April 07, 2012, 05:37 PM

Title: Root over Rock Willow
Post by: leila on April 07, 2012, 05:37 PM
I'm hesitant to post this because I'm sure I did everything wrong, but then I don't have a lot of money to spend on fancy things supplies, so I'm making do with what I have.

My project today was two corkscrew willow cuttings from last summer.  Since they grow roots like crazy, I decided to try a little root over rock project.  I had also read people here talking about using sand to allow maples to develop roots.  So, here's what I did.

I mixed equal parts vermiculite and coarse all-purpose sand into two large pots, hoping this would lighten the sand somewhat and make it easier for roots to move through it.  I then gently bare-rooted the cutting, combed it out, and placed the roots on the rock.  Since I didn't have any kind of tape to wrap it with, I opted to pack wet sphagnum moss around the rock and then plant it, packing the sand tightly around the sphagnum.  I watered them from below, setting the pots in a bucket of rainwater.

In the near future I'll make some willow water to give all my plants, and even these probably don't need it, I'll probably give them some anyway, just for good measure.

Following are four process photos that I took.
Title: Re: Root over Rock Willow
Post by: leila on April 07, 2012, 05:38 PM
The last two photos
Title: Re: Root over Rock Willow
Post by: Larry Gockley on April 09, 2012, 02:31 PM
Looks like a fun project. Not sure how fast they grow but you may be able to start uncovering the roots a year from now. What is your plan? Larry
Title: Re: Root over Rock Willow
Post by: leila on April 09, 2012, 05:34 PM
I read somewhere that because Willows have such invasive roots, they need to be repotted twice a year, or at least every year.  Since I've got them in a pretty oversized pot, I'm gonna leave them until next spring.  Whether I start to expose the rock or not will really depend on how they look when I get them out, but since their roots already reach the bottom of the rock, I think I'll probably be able to expose at least a bit of the rock.  

I haven't decided yet how I plan to shape them.  It will depend a lot on how they grow in the next year, I just wanna sort of roll with the punches and be opportunistic about it.  I think that since they're small and curly, I can stay away from the weeping form that I usually associate with willows.  I've been pinching some of the new growth the same way I was shown to do my trident maple.  I know it's a totally different type of tree, but I'm hoping that the branches will ramify in a similar way, giving me more options when the time comes to form a vision.

It's mostly just guesswork with these, to be quite honest, since there's so little information about using willows for bonsai.  I know the challenges associated with them, but I just can't help myself.  They're free for me, and forgiving, which makes them good practice material.
Title: Re: Root over Rock Willow
Post by: leila on April 17, 2012, 07:41 PM
In the interest of documentation....

I noticed today, the second of two unseasonably warm days, the root over rock willows had developed some yellow leaves that fell off easily.  In both cases, the yellow leaves were located in a dense area with greener leaves all around.

Comparatively speaking, the other two corkscrew willows haven't developed any yellow leaves at all.  They are in last summer's poverty mix soil : perlite, cedar bark mulch, and local dirt.  The root over rocks are in sand and vermiculite.

I'd find it hard to believe that the sand was holding too much moisture for the willows, though I'd believe it of a different species.  I wonder if it has to do with the heat, but then I'm not seeing any leaf burn or wilting on any of my other plants (with the exception of the recently collected maple stump) and all the other leaves on the root over rock willows are perfect and bright green.  

I'll be keeping an eye on this.