General Category > Fruiting and Flowering Bonsai Discussion

Large Crape Myrtle

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johng:
Here is a Crape Myrtle that I collected with Ken in March of this year.  Last evening, just 4 months later, I wired down some of the lower branches and heavily pruned the top.  My intentions were simply to get the branches started growing at more reasonable angles for the future of this tree.  I have kept many branches for now that will help facility the growth and reestablishment of this tree but will not be part of the final design.  This species is very top dominant so one of my challenges will be to keep the branches at the top chased back as the lower branches are thickened and developed.  I do not expect this wire to stay on long and fully expect that it will take several efforts over the course of a couple of years to get the branches developed, styled and properly placed.   I should have taken a before pic but of course I did not:(...on some branches I pruned more than a foot off.  The base of this tree is just over 12" at the soil line and it is 28" tall after pruning.

Considering this tree is only 4 months from being collected I am excited about its development and future.

Thanks,
John

johng:
I originally posted this video in the advanced collecting section but it is sure not getting many views there at all:(  You can learn a little more about the collection of this tree here...

collecting Crape Myrtle

Thanks,
John

BarbaraM:
John,
I really appreciate your videos.  They are so informative.

I have a couple of questions. 

Why do you use potting soil insted of bonsai soil?  Are there specific benefits to it in your climate?  Obviously it is working for this tree.

Is summer a good time of year to cut and carve on a crepe myrtle? Is it better in dormancy or active growth?  I have one that needs work and it is my first crepe.  You seem to have sucess so I would love to have your opinion

Steven:
Man! Ya and Ken get all the good places to get material :) Love the video! Looks like this tree is well on its way to being another fine specimen. Thank you for sharing!

johng:

--- Quote from: BarbaraM on July 18, 2009, 10:05 AM ---John,
I really appreciate your videos.  They are so informative.

I have a couple of questions. 

Why do you use potting soil insted of bonsai soil?  Are there specific benefits to it in your climate?  Obviously it is working for this tree.

Is summer a good time of year to cut and carve on a crepe myrtle? Is it better in dormancy or active growth?  I have one that needs work and it is my first crepe.  You seem to have sucess so I would love to have your opinion

--- End quote ---

Hello Barbara...thank you! It is extremely hot with reasonably high humidity where I live and my garden and nursery are very exposed to sun and wind. I use potting soil because my material does better and develops faster than if I use bonsai soil.  I also find a much higher margin of error when it comes to watering. I have had a much greater success rate on collected material since I have have switch to using a high quality potting soil as opposed to a bonsai soil....that includes everything from huge Bald Cypress down to seedlings.  Even my Shimpaku thrive in the stuff.  My informal observations with Shimpaku have really been amazing...the junipers recovered much faster from repotting, maintained a better color all year long, and achieved whips of new growth much faster.   In my experience just one or two times of letting a tree get a little too dry and you have lost that entire growing season.  I got tired of losing development time on my trees.  I am sure others will disagree but if you think about it, one of the effects of bonsai soil is to slow down fast growth and encourage fine ramification.  I want this material to grow fast to regain vigor so I choose a soil medium that does that for me.   Later when it becomes more important to slow growth and develop ramification I will switch to an appropriate bonsai soil.

To be perfectly honest I am not an expert with this species so I do not feel qualified to advise you with best course of action with yours.  I will say that it was March when I collected and did the major work on this tree and it has responded very well in this climate.  The scars are covering well and there has been vigorous back budding and growth.  I have successfully worked on dwarf crapes in the summer but no carving was really necessary. Since you are concerned enough to ask I would probably wait until early Spring.

John

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