Author Topic: Should I begin work, or let them grow?  (Read 2683 times)

skokiebob

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Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« on: April 14, 2012, 06:08 PM »
Hello, Noob here, this group has been very helpful and I appreciate it. Here is a couple new acquisitions, and I'm scared to do anything, especially with the Maple. Should I let the leaves grow in fully before beginning to train it? I'm shooting for an upright. The Azelea I figure will be more forgiving, but still, I don't want to screw it up. Is it too small to start work on? Should I let it go through a natural cycle of flowering? It has buds but only one bloomed flower. Thanks so much for any advice!
 

cbobgo

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Re: Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2012, 06:54 PM »
Well, you have to know where you are going before you can figure out how to get there.  So you have to have a plan for what you want these trees to look like when they are "done."

Lets start with the maple (which I hope you are growing outside).  It's pretty skinny.  I'm guessing the width of the trunk at the base is about 1/2 inch?  If you were to start styling that tree right now, for it to have the appropriate proportions to appear like an old tree (which is what we do in bonsai) then the height of the tree would be about 3-5 inches.  (Rule of thumb is ratio of trunk width to height is 1:6 give or take for an upright tree.)  That's pretty tiny, and you have no growth that low, so all you would really be able to do is a low trunk chop and wait for new growth.

If you don't want a tree that small, then you need a fatter trunk.  to get a fatter trunk, you have to let the tree grow grow grow.  It has to get tall to get fat.  So that means no pruning, just pumping it up with fertilizer, sun, and a big enough pot to spread its roots and grow.  I suspect that is the plan you will want to go with.  Planting it in the ground would get you there faster, but a series of larger pots can work as well.

You could do root work on it first - eliminating roots that cross, and roots that go down and so on.  But root work is better done during dormancy. 

So, basically all that can be done right now is let it grow.

I don't have a ton of experience with azaleas, so I'm going to not offer advice on that one.

- bob
 

skokiebob

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Re: Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2012, 04:27 PM »
Thanks Bob. Kind of what I thought, but don't want to let something pass that should have been done. During the growing/fattening years should I keep the heighth around the 3 foot range or let him grow and then chop back? If I keep pruning branches does that affect the growth of the trunk? As I get into this hobby it's obvious to me I need to do some research on trees and what affects their growth and health. Thanks for the help.
 

cbobgo

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Re: Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2012, 04:42 PM »
no pruning means no pruning.  None.  Anything you cut off just decreases the tree's ability to make energy.  Energy=sugar=wood.  The taller the tree gets, the better.  Taller tree means fatter trunk.

The only exception would be that if you have several good strong sacrifice branches growing, you could do a little pruning on other branches, if those branches were exactly in the right spot for your final design and you wanted to make sure they would not get too big.

But, the odds are, none of the branches that are currently on your tree will be used in the final design.  So there is no benefit to pruning them.  Most likely, in 3-5 years, when your trunk is fatter, you will do a low trunk chop, and completely re-grow the top of the tree from scratch.

- bob
 

skokiebob

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Re: Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2012, 05:12 PM »
Thanks again Bob. Ok, if I move him outside, do I need worry about critters? Tons of squirrels, rabbits, possum, skunk, coons. I currently put him outside in the day, and it's been getting near freezing at night, so I've been bringing in at night. So during this growth phase would you go potting soil, or stick with a loose fast draining bonsai mix?
 

cbobgo

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Re: Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2012, 05:43 PM »
always in bonsai mix.  Animals shouldn't bother it - except maybe deer.  Cold shouldn't bother it either unless it gets down to below freezing.

How long has it been in this pot?  Have you looked at the roots recently?

- bob
 

skokiebob

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Re: Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2012, 06:17 PM »
I've had it a month. I've loosened the soil with bonsai grit. I'm thinking of a pond basket or mesh sided wooden box for the next repotting. I will take your advice and go 100% bonsai soil. It seems pretty happy where it is, leaves and new buds coming fast and furious.
 

Sorce

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Re: Should I begin work, or let them grow?
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2014, 06:30 AM »
Update!