Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => General Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: King Kong on August 24, 2009, 10:33 PM

Title: Basic growing techniques
Post by: King Kong on August 24, 2009, 10:33 PM
Just some ideas to kick around regarding the most enjoyable part of bonsai for me, the actual growing or cultivation of plants.

__gary
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: King Kong on August 25, 2009, 07:34 AM
Before there was yamadori. As far as the eye could see were hundreds upon hundreds of yamadori to pick from. Like the buffalo that came to an end. Two plants a day turned into ten plants a day and then it became a commercial adventure as popularity climbed and now matters are different. Places were I could wonder freely in search for that 'keeper' I can't set one foot out the car door without a fine from a nice officer.
Now I find growing plants up from scratch just as enjoyable. Methods and plant selection are very important.

__gary
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: King Kong on August 25, 2009, 10:40 AM
The size of the container can be very important. Some plants I prefer to grow in fiberglass tubs.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: King Kong on August 26, 2009, 05:48 AM
I like change. Plants with non-deprived large root systems develop more quickly . I find people can stifle a plant's potential by growing in bonsai pots too quickly. There seems to be this desire to 'shoe horn' plants into tiny pots way to early in the scheme of things. The designers creative juices can not flow unless the tree is placed into a tiny vessel. The bonsai pottery reduction syndrome. We love it, the plants hate it. Try living underneath your dinning room table today.

__gary
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: King Kong on August 26, 2009, 10:54 AM
As per our chat conversation, I went to take a picture of the jbp root ball Meushi. I take it out of the pot and I have root die back, the pits. I think with the combination of daily rains and needle reduction I messed up the transporation value of the plant and soil combination and I get what I deserve but the pine didn't. Very touchy plant....my bad.
Next time, over potting and the problems involved. Nobody said it was easy.

__gary
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: M.B. on August 26, 2009, 03:44 PM
Along the lines of propagation, I have a question about doing cuttings. I seem to have a terrible time getting cuttings to "take". I've tried various methods from sticking the cutting into the same pot as the parent plant (as advised by a couple old time members in my club) to setting up individual small pots, to setting up some flat like pots, to just sticking in the ground.
I have used a sand and potting soil mix (more sand than p.soil), tried bonsai soil with small akadama, turface mix, and still haven't figured out what works best.
I have tried the plastic bag to create a greenhouse affect. Cut soda bottles. More shade, less shade, ect yet the plastic cover ones just seem to eventually mold. Some dipped in hormone powder, some not and yet my success rate is, in my opinion, dismal. Is there some secret I am missing?
Mary B.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: King Kong on August 26, 2009, 07:15 PM
Number one Mary is to be sure the plant will take root by cuttings. If so we do the following. We have a mist house so moisture levels are controlled. Then heat is important like now in Florida. We cut material to be rooted with a razor knife, dip it in a little root hormone which has a fungicide as well and plant in 100% perlite. That works well. The perlite is pathogen free and holds just the right air and water.
This is San Jose juniper cuttings

__gary
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: Jerry Norbury on August 27, 2009, 02:17 AM
I agree with Gary. Substrate composition, humidity, air circulation and heat all seem very important. Timing (i.e. April/May/June/July) is critical, too, where I live in northern Europe.

I only started being successful after I bought a small plastic greenhouse: http://www.chaselink.co.uk/HTML%20files/Chase%20Garden%20Products/cgp-minigreenhouses.html (http://www.chaselink.co.uk/HTML%20files/Chase%20Garden%20Products/cgp-minigreenhouses.html)

The success increased when I used an inorganic fired-clay substrate - Seramis. Turface/OilDri would probably work just as well.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: M.B. on August 27, 2009, 03:03 AM
Ah, I gotcha. Been doing hit n miss horticulture and well mostly missed. I've been telling my husband I need a greenhouse and all he does is roll his eyes and ignore me. I've read about heat mats for underneath the flats. How much heat does it take? I live in northern California so right now heat isn't a problem (averages mid 90's all summer) but it is getting late. Humidity and air circulation is another story, thus the need for the greenhouse conditions.
I don't really need a bunch of cuttings but sometimes I would have a few that I really wanted more of the parent plant. I have a Kingsville boxwood in need of a major restyling hack job but I've put it off until I can hopefully save the cuttings from sure death. Thanks for all your tips. I'll try them out next spring.
Mary B.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: John Kirby on August 27, 2009, 09:03 AM
See if you can find this in your local library (I have it and it is on Amazon)

The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture : A Practical Working Guide to the Propagation of over 1100 Species, Va (Paperback)
by Michael A. Dirr (Author), Charles W. Heuser (Author)

Overkill, but it gives you a very good view of te range of techniques and timing.

John
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: King Kong on August 27, 2009, 01:24 PM
But, before you try to grow anything you have to have a good bench.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: Attila Soos on August 27, 2009, 01:44 PM
I agree with Gary. Substrate composition, humidity, air circulation and heat all seem very important. Timing (i.e. April/May/June/July) is critical, too, where I live in northern Europe.

I only started being successful after I bought a small plastic greenhouse: http://www.chaselink.co.uk/HTML%20files/Chase%20Garden%20Products/cgp-minigreenhouses.html (http://www.chaselink.co.uk/HTML%20files/Chase%20Garden%20Products/cgp-minigreenhouses.html)

The success increased when I used an inorganic fired-clay substrate - Seramis. Turface/OilDri would probably work just as well.

I had the same experience. Since I bought a portable greenhouse (about 12 feet long, 7 feet tall), the success rate increase is astronomical. The price is affordable, it's around $200. I have a fan for cooling (for the summer heat), and a small electric heater, for the coldest winter nights.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: M.B. on August 27, 2009, 03:02 PM
Attila, I didn't know there was a portable greenhouse that size. The largest I have seen holds only a couple shelves.
Mary B.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: Jerry Norbury on August 27, 2009, 03:26 PM
I've had a couple of these - they were great.

http://www.greenhouseshowcase.com/4-shelf-plant-shelf.htm (http://www.greenhouseshowcase.com/4-shelf-plant-shelf.htm)
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: Attila Soos on August 28, 2009, 01:54 PM
Attila, I didn't know there was a portable greenhouse that size. The largest I have seen holds only a couple shelves.
Mary B.

Here it is. It's like a small room.
This is just the picture of the product, it's not the one in my backyard.
But I could  have around 30-40 middle sized bonsai in it.

I use it mainly for recovering sick bonsai, propagation, and overwintering tropical bonsai. I have also thrown in there a few orchids, for good measure. Since the humidity is high, they grow mounted on a piece of bark.

Last week I needed to do an emergency repotting of a Montezuma cypress. It was growing in the ground, and for some reason it was dying (it turned out that the rootball wasn't getting enough moisture). It had barely a few live branches left. I dug the tree out of the ground, potted in pumice, and placed it in the greenhouse. Since it was middle of August, and temperatures close to 100, it would mean certain death for a tree to dig it at this time. But in the greenhouse, it has already recovered, and has lots of new growth. So, no more worries about re-potting, I can do it any time, with any tree, and no risk.

To avoid mold and other fungii in the greenhouse, you just need a small fan to create a constant breeze during the warmest days of summer.

Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: mcpesq817 on August 28, 2009, 03:02 PM
Hi Attila,

Do these portable greenhouses work well for overwintering non-tropicals, or do they get too hot?  

I've been using my garage to overwinter my trees, but lately I am thinking that it might be better to overwinter my conifers outside.  Unfortunately the way my yard is set up, it's not going to be easy for me to dig areas to winterize my trees (plus my soil is a very heavy red clay), so I'm wondering if something like this might be a good solution.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: mcpesq817 on August 28, 2009, 03:03 PM
Hi Attila,

Do these portable greenhouses work well for overwintering non-tropicals, or do they get too hot?  

I've been using my garage to overwinter my trees, but lately I am thinking that it might be better to overwinter my conifers outside.  Unfortunately the way my yard is set up, it's not going to be easy for me to dig areas to winterize my trees (plus my soil is a very heavy red clay), so I'm wondering if something like this might be a good (and easy) solution.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: Attila Soos on August 28, 2009, 03:39 PM
Hi Attila,

Do these portable greenhouses work well for overwintering non-tropicals, or do they get too hot?  

I've been using my garage to overwinter my trees, but lately I am thinking that it might be better to overwinter my conifers outside.  Unfortunately the way my yard is set up, it's not going to be easy for me to dig areas to winterize my trees (plus my soil is a very heavy red clay), so I'm wondering if something like this might be a good solution.

I don't think they get too hot at all. Besides, they have four screened windows, so you can open one or two to equalize the temperatures, if you want. It may be a good solution for winter protection. I would place the bonsai inside the greenhouse, and then bury the pots in a large and shallow wooden box, filled with sawdust, or fine bark mulch.

I think that if you are seriously into this hobby, a small greenhouse is a must. I already recovered the cost of my greenhouse by saving 3 good trees this year from certain death, using the greenhouse.

It is important to place it on a good location: a place that is sunny until noon, then becomes shady in the afternoon. If you don't have such a location, this can be easily done by placing a large shade cloth in the right position, above the greenhouse.
Title: Re: Basic growing techniques
Post by: mcpesq817 on August 28, 2009, 04:03 PM
[I don't think they get too hot at all. Besides, they have four screened windows, so you can open one or two to equalize the temperatures, if you want. It may be a good solution for winter protection. I would place the bonsai inside the greenhouse, and then bury the pots in a large and shallow wooden box, filled with sawdust, or fine bark mulch.

I think that if you are seriously into this hobby, a small greenhouse is a must. I already recovered the cost of my greenhouse by saving 3 good trees this year from certain death, using the greenhouse.

It is important to place it on a good location: a place that is sunny until noon, then becomes shady in the afternoon. If you don't have such a location, this can be easily done by placing a large shade cloth in the right position, above the greenhouse.

Thanks very much for the reply.  To me, this seems to be an easier solution than digging a hole and putting up burlap of plastic sheeting to serve as a windbreak.  A little more expensive maybe, but probably a lot less hassle.  My wife might not be too happy if I start digging holes in the ground for my trees  ;D

I didn't think about sun when it comes to the location.  I have a pretty good spot that is sheltered from the south by a screened in porch and by the east from my house.  So, the location doesn't get direct sun until mid-day, when the sun has moved west (maybe around 3pm or so).  Something to think about.  

I am mostly thinking about putting JBPs, junipers and some other conifers I have outside - these portable greenhouses seem to offer more protection than just burying the pots and erecting some wind breaks.  Then again, I wouldn't be able to take advantage of rain and snows.  My deciduous trees I would likely just leave in the detached garage.