Author Topic: First project for a bonsai newbie!  (Read 2222 times)


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First project for a bonsai newbie!
« on: September 11, 2013, 08:21 PM »
Hi all.  I'm starting to take some bonsai classes next month after a summer of reading and looking at some wonderful bonsai specimens during my frequent trips to Taiwan.  I was nursery browsing today and in the midst of making space for fall mums, I found some plants om the discount rack that actually had some interesting looking trunksā€¦..I couldn't resist and picked up a few Ficus benjamina ans well as some Lingustrum vicaryi (privet).  All looked great with trunks in the 15-20 mm range but all very tall , about 80 cm +.  What I would like to do is start allowing the trunks to thicken some more, approximately double the diameter and use these for future projects.  The question I have is what to do now?  I'm in northern MA (USDA hardiness zone 5b).

I figure it would be best to get them into a bonsai soil mix as soon as possibleā€¦.no pruning, minimal root disturbance and a faily deep and wide pot to allow trunk development.  With cold weather coming on in as little as 6 weeks, I do not want to stress the plants out too much beyond just switching the soil.  I plan to use 40% turface, 30% granite growers grit and 30% composted pine bark as my mix.

Since the ficus is not cold hardy, I've already set up some humidity trays in front of some south and eastward facing windows indoors.  The privet I plan to leave in a sheltered area outdoors, but still place in a pot rather than in the ground.

Sound like a reasonable start and leave any pruning work to late winter/early spring?  I figure the maximum foliage at this point would be best to promote trubk growth and the ould of large branches close to the trunk bases will only aid that and could be removed later as sacrificial branches.

Is this sounding correct?  Boy, it's a lot different actually planning this out than reading about it!

Thanks for any help and I love your forum!


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Re: First project for a bonsai newbie!
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2013, 07:04 AM »
Uh oh, you caught the bug. It's ok MUM is the word!
Those Tai Bens are very impressive, but to get our Bens in North USA that healthy, grab a hunk of, . I found space for one of mine outside this year, and the growth difference is phenomenal.
My Indoor ones grow best under 2 four foot plant bulbs and fixture, @30$ usd. A must for winter, I'm on for 16 hours.

I'd love to see the privet. No experience with them, but its said you can't kill them!

I would do some minor directional pruning in spring, being sure to remove anything that will cause inverse taper if left alone, but keep that max foliage all year after.

And oh, on the ficus, while I haven't tried a concave cutter, some texts say to leave a stub from old branches, they will die back and can be knocked off. This Does work on small branches, very smooth healing. Less bulging. If I had a concave cutter, I would use it on anything bigger than a pencil.
But do leave stubs on fine green branches, ugly for a month or 2, but pays off.