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General Category => General Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Chrisl on July 20, 2011, 10:16 AM

Title: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on July 20, 2011, 10:16 AM
I purchased at a great price, a 3' Canadian Cypress and 2' Blue spruce.  I got them in the ground the other day; the Cypress I only cut a few of the lowest hanging branches, and left the huge root ball alone and then planted.  On the Spruce, I cut the root ball in half, got rid of the dead and large roots, but it didn't need any lower branches cut, there was about 4-5" of trunk before the first branch.  It has really dense foliage too, but there are inner buds even in the lower branches.  I did the roots differently just as an experiment to see what worked best.

I also decided to transplant again,my small JBP too into the ground.  Mainly cause the soil I had it in, just never dried out.  Plus I wanted to thicken the trunk and not have to worry about loosing it this winter.  I lost a plant last winter keeping it in my unfinished basement.  It wasn't cold enough to prevent some white branches growing and it got badly infected with scale.  So anyway, I just wanted to get in the ground the plants I want to thicken up, and to avoid any loss this winter.  I'm thinking of getting a small cheap greenhouse to put the maples in for the winter.  So we'll see.

But getting back to in ground training, can anyone give me just the basics, or maybe a link if this has been discussed before, on when, what, to begin styling these plants while in the ground.  Like should I thin out the Spruce growth on top of the tree to keep light in so I don't loose those inner buds?  I know you all said only one insult a yr., so do I wait till next spring to prune?  Should I start thinking about what's the front of the tree, or begin creating primary branches as it grows?

I searched this site, and a few others, and couldn't find any specific information about this.  And I've never done this before so I'm a bit clueless as you can tell. 

I will truly appreciate any help or link/s on how to approach in ground training!  (Oh, I can take a pic of the planted area if anyones interested)
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Treebeard55 on July 20, 2011, 10:26 AM
Chris, you want to really baby those trees for a while, given the heat we've had -- and apparently can continue to expect -- in this part of the US. I would even rig a shade for the mid-afternoon hours, if they're not already partly shaded.

The spruce in particular needs the TLC: I believe spruces, like pines, have one main period of growth in the spring, and that's it. So your spruce may be struggling to rebuild its root system. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

Your JBP should be OK, if you didn't do much root-pruning. Unlike most pines, JBP has a secondary growth flush in late summer.

My own in-ground experience is limited, so I'll let others comment on that before I chime in on it.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 20, 2011, 11:14 AM
I have limited experience growing trees in the ground as well, but here are some thoughts.

One tip is that you might be surprised as to how tall/big trees in the ground get in order to even get a 2-3" trunk.  I've got a trident and a cork bark elm in the ground that are about 12' tall, but the trunks are only 2" in diameter.  So, make sure you space them accordingly.  It also usually takes a few years in the ground for the trees to be established and really explode with growth - generally the third year is when you start seeing the growth engine kick in.  I'd also say that growing pines in the ground is a relatively slower process than deciduous.

Two other quick tips:  I recycle my used bonsai soil and use it to amend the soil that I have my trees in.  I have also been planting my trees on ceramic tiles.  What I usually do is make sure all downward growing roots are cut off, and then sit the tree on top of the tile.  Particularly with deciduous trees, I've been getting nice buttressing at the base.  The tile also helps prevent the tree from sinking big thick roots straight down into the ground, making it easier to remove them.

Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on July 20, 2011, 12:19 PM
mcpesq817, the spruce already has a 2-3" trunk, the cypress is about 2".  So I plan on leaving them there for at least 5 yrs.  And having to wait sev. yrs. for the roots to be established and real growth to begin makes sense.

I've read about that tile technique mcpesq817, but I've yet to try it.  Sounds very interesting and nice to hear you're having good success.  And I'll use this soil mix that I have that is too organic when I put the maples in the ground.  Thanks for the advice!

Treebeard, you are right, I am concerned about this heat.  Fortunately, I live near the lake and that keeps me a bit cooler...but only by a few degrees.  Shade cloth is a good idea.  I have both 50% and 30%...which one should I get up over the conifers, as well as the maples when I get them in the ground??  I can get the stuff up tonight as it gets full sun midday on.  I bought the 30% after reading online that Chicago residents should use 30-40% shade cloth over maples to prevent long inter nodal spaces.

Well, if I loose the spruce, lesson learned.  It was so cheap I won't worry about it.  But I hope it survives ;)  I think my JBP will do just fine.  There were a good amt. of roots left, and say about 10 terminal roots actively growing with white tips when I planted it. 

So I guess I should leave the entire root balls intact on the maples in 2 gal. plastic pots when I plant them just to be safe?  I'd love to put them over tile, but it would require a huge root cut and I don't think this is the best time of the yr. to try this.  Maybe I can dig them up in the spring, and then do the root cut and put over a tile?  The one field grown maple I have is in a 24"x18"x3" wood flat.  I could put a tile under this one, but again, with the heat, is it a good idea now?  Otherwise, I can do the same, plant it now and do the tile in the springtime.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Treebeard55 on July 20, 2011, 07:56 PM
If it were me, Chris, I'd use the 30%. If possible, I'd rig it so that it shades the trees from about 1 PM on. Them's my thoughts, since you asked.  ;)

If you can want to put the maples in the ground now, I wouldn't disturb the rootballs. If you can wait until spring, tho, you can put them on tiles like mcpesq has described.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on July 21, 2011, 10:22 AM
Ah, I put up the 50% yesterday.  But easily to change as I only used zip ties.  Thanks Treebeard!!

I have no space to winterize my plants.  No garage and the basement didn't stay cold enough last year.  So I'm trying to put in the ground plants that I want to thicken (yes, ideally I'd love to put them over tiles, but I don't want to do a root prune this time of year.  I can always did them up in the spring and do it then), and my air layered new trees I'll get in the ground in Aug.  Next week is 8 wks.  One is really root packed already, and the others are still growing roots.  I'm going to try actually what someone, I forget who so please forgive, and open up the plastic bag and add a little more sphagnum moss and tie it back up again.  The person said it gives the air layered roots a chance to develop finer roots terminally and less likely to die.  Made sense to me....so we'll see.

 As for my already potted bonsai, I think I may get a small greenhouse, or, take a chance and leave them outside and mulch the heck out of them. 
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on July 21, 2011, 11:11 AM
Anyone with some guidance about in ground training?  And esp., should I thin out the top canopy of the spruce to keep the inner lower buds alive?  I doubt I'll be using that top canopy growth anyway.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: coh on July 21, 2011, 02:28 PM
Here's some other thoughts. Keep in mind I have limited bonsai experience, but I have started planting trees out in growing beds. I've got one crabapple that has been in the ground for about 2 years. It is thickening rapidly and I may dig it up to root prune in the spring. It was planted over a large flat rock (didn't have any tiles at the time) and seems to be developing a nice base flare. I planted a bunch of other stuff this spring, all on tiles, so won't know how that goes for a few years. Someone mentioned the idea of amending the soil with old bonsai soil, and that sounds similar to what I've been doing, which is adding the sifted "debris" from turface, bark, perlite etc (along with some compost). Seems to make a big difference to the soil quality.

Regarding planting out now - if you're going to be digging them up in the spring to plant on tiles, why not consider leaving them in pots this year (and maybe slip-potting a size up if they're pot bound) and just burying the pots in the ground for the winter? This would avoid the double trauma of planting out now in the hottest part of the season and then digging them up again in the early spring. That's what I'd probably do.

Chris
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: mcpesq817 on July 21, 2011, 03:06 PM
50% shade cloth seems awfully high, particularly if you're in the upper midwest (then again, you guys can get some really crazy weather out there).  I live in VA, which I would think probably has more heat and sun than you, and my trees aren't under shade cloth.  That being said, one set of my benches gets partial shade from a crape myrtle in my yard for part of the day, and the second set gets partial shade from my back porch for part of the day.  For the remainder, my trees get full sun.  If your trees are getting full sun for only part of the day, you might be ok.

I would also think that if you are worried about interior buds in your cypress and spruce that you would want to make sure they get good sunlight to penetrate into the interior - but I don't work with those species so I could be mistaken.

I'd also echo what Coh said about waiting until next spring to plant in the ground.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on July 21, 2011, 05:54 PM
It's been so terribly hot and humid, that's why I put up the 50% cloth.  I changed it over to 30%.  It certainly keeps it cooler under the canopy.  I think giving them shade now will minimize damage by planting now in the heat of summer.  I already planted the conifers, so too late to take Coh's and mcpesq817's advice.  But I could do that to my maples that I haven't done anything to them yet.  Double pot them, and put them in the ground till spring.  It sounds like very sound advice.

Thanks guys!  I'll definitely thin out the cypress and the spruce.  Perhaps this will also help get the trees established by reducing leaf mass?  I can hope! ;)
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: coh on July 21, 2011, 06:15 PM
Not sure what you mean by "double pot them", but it sounds like putting one pot inside another. My suggestion is to lift the plant out of the old pot, tease out the root ball a little (the amount would depend on what the roots look like, how root bound, etc) then plant it into a slightly larger container with a good draining potting mix. Then you bury that pot in the ground for the winter. Be sure to protect the trunks against rodents...I found that out the hard way this past winter.

Chris
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on July 21, 2011, 06:51 PM
Oh, I totally misunderstood!  lol  Thank You Chris for re-explaing that to me.  That makes much more sense  :D

Btw, how do you protect against rodents?  I live in the city so I know we have rats....so gross! ;)
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: coh on July 22, 2011, 01:15 PM
Fortunately I didn't lose any valuable trees last winter, but rodents did completely girdle the lower trunk of a euonymus in a nursery pot, and they partially girdled a couple of other trees. Most likely voles did the damage. I'm not sure what I'm going to do this winter, haven't researched it too much yet, but I'm going to either wrap the lower trunks with something protective (I think there are products made for this) or put wire around some of the larger trunks. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm interested.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on July 22, 2011, 01:23 PM
Chris, what about alum foil wrapped around the trunk followed by a layer of burlap?  But you're right, they make products for this.  Here in Chicago, I see them everywhere, a green tent over the bottom.  You can buy them at agric. supply stores.

An update, I didn't want to loose any of the interior and lower buds, so I hacked the hell out of the spruce and, this is a bit embarrassing,  I just found the plant ID tag, and it's not a Canadian cypress, but a Canadian Hemlock.  What a doofus! Sorry all for the confusion.  But I left at least 2-4 new buds on each branch so in theory, it should backbud for me nicely next spring. 

I read it's best to wait a yr. before doing this after planting in ground, but I didn't want to risk loosing the inner buds.  If I kill them, I'm only out $40.  And I'll learn a valuable lesson about timing.  I wish I had added some of my org/inorg bonsai mix to the soil.  Another lesson learned.  Not touching the JBP.

I found this faq on various topics written by Brent Watson:  http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm

Very good info there.  Some about in ground growth, but not much about in ground styling.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on August 07, 2011, 01:58 AM
An update, the spruce and hemlock are doing just fine.  Even a bit of new growth at the tips in fact.

The pine is also doing well.  It looks pretty healthy, new buds from the spring decandle, and that's all I did.  (thinking at the time I was going to have a shohin tree.  No initial styling due to my uncertainty).  The interior has some nice branches, but also some pin wheels.  For info, it's only about 12" tall and 1.5" trunk, but very full and bushy. 

As my plan changed to let it grow tall and thicken up the trunk.  But should I now, or in the spring, cut out some of those pin wheel branches to keep the interior more open, or just not worry about it, let it grow wild and then much later, when the girth is right, give it a basic style like Boon did with his JBP in training? 

Now that I have turface fines, I see how it would be a nice soil amendment.  Thanks for the idea!
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Owen Reich on August 07, 2011, 07:11 AM
When you do repot the hemlock, don't get too aggressive as they hate root disturbance.  They also don't like their roots to get too hot once in a bonsai pot.  If you see any white fuzzy stuff on your tree in the future, it's wooly adelgid.  Imidacloprid soil drench will protect your tree from infestation occurring.  I believe a contact spray will kill existing ones too.  That's just for future reference.

As far as in-ground training is concerned, your goal is to encourage thickening where you want it and preventing it where you don't.  The trees should be allowed to grow out, but without a plan, you can create future problems.  Many people grow what are called "sacrifice" branches that are left unprimed to thicken the trunk.  They need to be promoted where you want thickening of the trunk / banches to occur.  If you know where the "front" is,  allowing sacrificial branches to grow from the back decreases the likelihood of ugly scars being seen later.  It's never too early to plan your future design for a tree; even if the branches you plan to cut may be there for year(s).  I'd leave everything as is until Spring for now.  When you do start cutting, especially on the maple, try to avoid large cuts on the same side of the tree and better yet, stagger large cuts individually over time.  Some pictures would help others to assist in the design considerations if interested in feedback.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on August 07, 2011, 10:12 AM
Owen, Thanks so much for responding, as well as the warning about wooly adelgid and Imidacloprid soil ....never heard of either.  Good info to know!

I'll try to get some pics taken today and post them. 

Can I make sure I understand you correctly regarding the pine?  You say wait until spring, then thin out the interior tree of those pin wheels, selecting sacrificial branches to leave on long term? 

For the spruce and hemlock, since there will prob. with no new buds on the trunk forming, I guess next spring, I should 'style' it, but also leaving sacrificial branches to help thicken the trunk over time?

Thanks again Owen for the guidance....I really didn't know the approach to what exactly you're supposed to do to trees in ground.  Much appreciated!
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on August 08, 2011, 12:32 AM
Rained today Owen...again.  I'll try again tom if the weather holds up. 

From what I've been able to gather so far though, it seems like there is basic "shaping and wiring" in ground.  I recall specifically Jim Gremel's Blue Spruces that he sells.  http://www.jimgremel.com/atlascedarsforsa.html (http://www.jimgremel.com/atlascedarsforsa.html)
He's got some great trunks in those trees.  Wish I could afford one hehe

I'm surprised that there's not any basic write-ups on a blog about growing bonsai's in the ground.  For instance, write about the process from specimen, to getting it in the ground, what to do to the plant while in the ground...over yrs., and finally, from the ground to the bonsai pot.  I've found a tid bit here, a tid bit there.
But nothing in one source.  (It's probably out there somewhere that I just haven't found LOL) 
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on August 13, 2011, 09:54 AM
When you do repot the hemlock, don't get too aggressive as they hate root disturbance.  They also don't like their roots to get too hot once in a bonsai pot.  If you see any white fuzzy stuff on your tree in the future, it's wooly adelgid.  Imidacloprid soil drench will protect your tree from infestation occurring.  I believe a contact spray will kill existing ones too.  That's just for future reference.

As far as in-ground training is concerned, your goal is to encourage thickening where you want it and preventing it where you don't.  The trees should be allowed to grow out, but without a plan, you can create future problems.  Many people grow what are called "sacrifice" branches that are left unprimed to thicken the trunk.  They need to be promoted where you want thickening of the trunk / banches to occur.  If you know where the "front" is,  allowing sacrificial branches to grow from the back decreases the likelihood of ugly scars being seen later.  It's never too early to plan your future design for a tree; even if the branches you plan to cut may be there for year(s).  I'd leave everything as is until Spring for now.  When you do start cutting, especially on the maple, try to avoid large cuts on the same side of the tree and better yet, stagger large cuts individually over time.  Some pictures would help others to assist in the design considerations if interested in feedback.

Owen,  I finally got some pictures done.  As you can see, there's a lot of foliage, and one branch coming off just an inch or so from the bottom, that actually lays on the ground.  One pic was taken in a flat prior to planting it in the ground.  I hope these will help. 

In the spring, I hope to cut out some of the branches while in ground to, as you said "plan for a future design".  Just not sure which ones.  But I've got a lot of time before spring.... ;(

Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Owen Reich on August 13, 2011, 11:41 PM
I was referring to waiting until spring for anything as you've been changing locations, soil environment, and chopping a lot lately from the sound of things.  Best to let everything settle physiologically and do a little more exploring in the bonsai information world.  Deborah Koreshoff's book is a good, solid read for people new to bonsai.  Also, joining a local club and finding some members with experience will also be highly beneficial as they know the local regional weather quirks and so on.

Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Owen Reich on August 14, 2011, 08:31 AM
Sorry, I should be more clear. The Koreshoff book is a good overview of bonsai theory, history, etc.  Not a source for in-ground training.  Other members of this forum will know a lot about in-groud training so I'll leave it to others for advice as most of my experience involves container growing. 
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on August 14, 2011, 09:41 AM
I agree Owen, I'm not touching it till next spring.  I'm not sure I'm going to get any concrete answers to the approach to in ground training as I started this thread 3 wks ago and haven't gotten a response directly addressing this question. 

I'm not totally new to bonsai, but I will hit up the club members at the next meeting, and I'll also ask around the Midwest show next weekend as I am new to in ground planting/training. 

Thanks for your help Owen, much appreciated!

Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: coh on August 14, 2011, 12:19 PM
Regarding the pine...keeping in mind that I've only very recently started working with them...but have done a lot of reading.

I think what you need to do largely depends on what you're aiming for. Large tree, small tree, how  much movement, where do you want the first branch. Seems to me from my reading that a lot of this has to be thought about/planned to a significant extent when you first start growing a pine, whereas for many deciduous species you can just grow a trunk and then build branches. This is because most deciduous species will bud back very easily on old wood/trunks, and can be cut back to stumps (removing all foliage). Pines won't backbud as reliably and cannot be cut back to stumps.

Have you read some of the stuff written by Brent Walston? He's got a website (evergreengardenworks.com) with lots of information, including a blog (there is a link from his main page). Some of the older blog posts have detailed explanations about training young pines. It seems somewhat complicated but maybe gets easier as you do it. At least, I'm hoping!

Chris
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on August 14, 2011, 01:24 PM
That's what I was thinking too Chris.  Same for my hemlock and spruce.  I need to establish what I think the finished tree will look like (trunk movement, primary branches, tree ht for instance).  I did find Brent's articles and found some great info there, but I didn't check out his blog.  I'll def. check them out as I bet the basics are the same for in ground vs. in container training. 

Thanks Chris!
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on August 24, 2011, 10:57 AM
Ok, I've been scouring for info, and I've seen now several pictures of trees grown in ground that were taken out for bonsai work.  What I noticed was the main primary branches and were already selected and grown. Basically, it seems the initial styling to form the basic structure of the tree was done in ground.  Or, done when it was taken out of the ground for root pruning.  Now I have a very good idea of what's expected in the whole process of maturing and growing bonsai's in ground.
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on November 08, 2013, 10:37 AM
I found this old thread I'd update.  The spruce which I boxed up died.  I root pruned it, and put in direct sun.  Didn't take long ;(

The hemlock is doing just fine.  I'll be an old old man before I see this little thing bulk up lol  Oh well, still interesting to play with. 
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: paulpash on November 09, 2013, 06:21 AM
I have been growing raw material to train as bonsai in the ground for over 10 years. This is what I've learnt:

Coniferous trees which are hard to promote back budding on: It is vital to decide on a plan early doors and select the right branches for the right job. Branches are either 'keepers' or 'sacrifices' - prune everything else away or jin it. Keepers will form the final branch structure of your tree once the sacrifices have been removed.

Keepers need to be managed so that the buds and branch structure closest to the trunk stay viable and can be reactivated / reinvigorated to produce attractive pads later on. This means -Rule 1: they should not be shaded out by sacrifices or other keepers. This is the ONLY time you prune away sacrifices before they do their job, ie to thicken the trunk or branch at and below their point of attachment. Rule 2: The volume of foliage on keepers should not be allowed to race away to produce overly thick branches nor weaken to the point of failure - try to balance vigour and needle mass so that as your keeper branches have progressively less foliage the higher they are up on your stock. This will give you proportionate branch thickness when it comes to harvest time.

Sacrifices have two primary functions: 1/ To provide a method of increasing thickening of specific areas. Ideally this will be as close to the base of the tree as possible and at the back (as Owen has rightly pointed out). The sacrifices on my cedar (I usually have 2 - one extremely low, one at the top of the tree) is around 5 ft high at the base and 3ft at the top so you will need to let it race away to do it's job quickly 2/ Sacrifices can and should be used on the trunk to create interesting movement & taper - cut back sacrifices at the top of the tree to achieve this. Identify small shoots or side branches a little way up on the sacrifice that will continue the trunk line in an interesting way - imagine the tree in your mind and the shape you want. This process of cutting back and regrowing should produce diminishing levels of trunk taper and good movement. Locate and preserve keepers from the outside of these chops as described above.

Deciduous trees that readily back bud such as acers etc are comparatively simpler. We can get away with a lot more as overly thick branches can just be pruned, regrown or grafted. The basic principles hold though more so in terms of sacrifices. I grow or graft my branches later on for good callusing species - just make sure the branches don't get over thick before removal, esp if the branch is to the front.

Hope this is OK

Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on November 09, 2013, 11:04 AM
Good advice Marie, Thanks!  All my juni's are only 2 yrs old and just really to start to grow this yr.  Nice to have some ideas going forward.
Chris
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: paulpash on November 11, 2013, 04:42 PM
With junis foliage volume is key to keeping the tree growing vigourously. If you whack it back like a deciduous tree it will sulk for years .....
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Gaffer on November 11, 2013, 09:14 PM
I have found that when growing in ground the time period should be at least 4 years but half way through you must lift your tree and give it a bit of a styling prune fat roots and set it back in the ground with a tile under or whatever and leave Tito grow another 2 years and do the same again until your happy with your girth while cutting back the trunk.
Qualicum Brian
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: Chrisl on November 12, 2013, 09:08 AM
I have found that when growing in ground the time period should be at least 4 years but half way through you must lift your tree and give it a bit of a styling prune fat roots and set it back in the ground with a tile under or whatever and leave Tito grow another 2 years and do the same again until your happy with your girth while cutting back the trunk.
Qualicum Brian
Incl junipers Brian?
Title: Re: In Ground Training?
Post by: scottroxburgh on November 17, 2013, 04:29 PM
Marie, have you got any pics of trees that you have grown over the last ten years? I have only had trees in ground for 1 season so no experience to show, but Im keen to learn what others do.

Thanks

Scott