Which tree is going to look better 5 years from now?

Chinese Elm
60%
6
Japanese Juniper
10%
1
Both!
20%
2
Neither!
10%
1
 
Total votes: 10
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StickFish
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New Trees: Japanese Juniper and Chinese Elm

Ah, the joy of buying a new bonsai...
Nothing like the joy of buying two new bonsai. :mrgreen:
I just purchased these two beautiful bonsai earlier today. I can already see a lot of potential in these trees.

I pulled out my dad's macro lens and had a fun little photo-shoot with my new trees. :)

Enter: Chinese Elm! This tree is 7 years old, the older of the two trees.
I'm not sure what kind of species it is, but you guys are good at finding that part out. :P
[img]https://www.pictusdesign.com/jekyl/ChineseElm1.jpg[/img]

[img]https://www.pictusdesign.com/jekyl/ChineseElm2.jpg[/img]
I fell in love with that curvature when I first laid eyes on it...

There's a couple problem spots I noticed on this little tree though...
[img]https://www.pictusdesign.com/jekyl/ChineseElm3.jpg[/img]

That looks like blackspot to me, but I'm not quite sure.
The good news is, there's only a little bit on one side of the tree.
Any ideas? Suggestions for getting rid of it? My mom has a little Neem oil in the shed. She loves using that stuff on her roses. Works like a charm. :)
Worst-case scenario, I prune the nasty bits off and keep a close eye on the rest.

Now for an awesome macro close-up:
[img]https://www.pictusdesign.com/jekyl/ChineseElm4.jpg[/img]
Because everything looks better close-up. Except spiders. And nostrils.

Enter: Japanese Juniper! This one is 3 years old, but I already know what it's going to look like several years from now. :D
[img]https://www.pictusdesign.com/jekyl/Juniper1.jpg[/img]

This tree has the makings of a great semi-cascade.
[img]https://www.pictusdesign.com/jekyl/Juniper2.jpg[/img]

I'm not sure what species the Juniper is either, my guess is either Juniperus procumbens or Juniperus rigida.
[img]https://www.pictusdesign.com/jekyl/Juniper3.jpg[/img]

And that's it for my little photo-shoot. Just felt like sharing my new trees with all you great people.
:clap:
"It has a beginning but no end. A bud today becomes a branch tomorrow."
"Bonsai is not the result: that comes after. Your enjoyment is what is important"
~John Naka

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Location: Bremerton, WA

Good job on the macros!

The trees are fine, but you'll be surprised by what you see when you go to Brussel's. So I hope you didn't spend all your pennies on these lil guys.

Also... if you want them to get bigger faster... you'll take them out of those little pots and put them into larger ones, as small pots restrict growth... as I have said other times, trees in structural development have no business being in a bonsai pot. :wink:

As to the disease, I'm not sure what it is, but I would immediately remove the parts which are affected. The leaves can not be healed/repaired only regrown. And as a chinese elm, that would be no problem since they grow vigoursly. Be careful not to touch diseased leaves to other health leaves as much as possible, and throw them immediately in the trash.

What's the soil composition? Be sure not to over water if it's mainly organics... And do not keep the juniper indoors... even the elm will fair better outside as it warms up.

So what care instructions did he give you for them? I am curious....

Oh and the juniper is a procumbens nana

V
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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Gnome
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StickFish,

I agree with your diagnosis of 'Black Spot' I get this every year on my Chinese Elm. As Victrinia suggested, you should remove the effected leaves as they will not recover but they will help to spread the disease. Make sure to remove them from the growing area and look for others that may have already fallen to the soil.

When you water the tree try not to wet the foliage as this spreads it as well. I have even sheltered mine from rain early in the season. Tender new leaves seem to be more susceptible to this problem and by midsummer it should lessen considerably.

I too am trying Neem Oil this year. In the past I have used another product but hopefully the Neem will give good results and be a little more environmentally friendly. One thing to keep in mind is that a fungicide, whatever ever the product, does not cure effected leaves or shoots, instead consider it a preventative.

What I do is to remove all of the effected leaves and then use the fungicide. Then follow up with the spray every few days. You will probably struggle with this long term but if you keep on top of it, it does not seem to harm the plant greatly. I have read that the fungus, if left unchecked, can enter the shoots. I suggest that you don't let it get that bad.

Norm

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Location: Bremerton, WA

Nasty lookin' stuff... Sadly it's also why I suggested not purchasing from the roadside vendor frankly. A place like Brussel's would not sell an infected plant knowingly. Their reputation is too important. The vendor just wants to move his stock that he picked up from a wholesale distributor which freshly arrived from a shipping container. Tt's a learning moment... but hopefully one which will not be a reoccuring struggle.

V
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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StickFish
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Thanks much, guys.

Don't worry, Victrinia. I still have plenty of pennies to spare. :D

The soil is mostly organics. The soil in both pots was dry when I brought them home, so I made sure to thoroughly water them. I've been reading a lot on watering. ;)
I'm still looking forward to getting an inorganic soil medium though...I'll feel a lot better about watering them once they're in better pots and soil.
As far as pots go, you suggested putting them into larger ones. Is it too late in the season to move them into larger pots? The trees are healthy but do look a little crowded.

Today's a busy day, so hopefully I'll get a chance to take of the Chinese Elm...
How far down should I prune the infected branches? At the base of the tree, or only remove the bad leaves?

I'm still really busy this week, so hopefully I'll be making a trip to Brussel's next week.

Thanks again for the help guys. It's so much easier learning all this stuff when I have people with much more experience showing me how. :mrgreen:
"It has a beginning but no end. A bud today becomes a branch tomorrow."
"Bonsai is not the result: that comes after. Your enjoyment is what is important"
~John Naka

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Gnome
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

StickFish,
Thanks again for the help guys. It's so much easier learning all this stuff when I have people with much more experience showing me how.
You're welcome, glad to be able to help.
Today's a busy day, so hopefully I'll get a chance to take of the Chinese Elm...
How far down should I prune the infected branches? At the base of the tree, or only remove the bad leaves?
Look carefully at each twig where the infection is apparent. If the disease has progressed into the shoot then you should remove it. If it is only on the leaves simply remove the leaves. I have seldom seen it get past the leaves and into a tender shoot because I'm aware of it. Now that you are too you should be able to control it before it gets to the stage where you have to do any real pruning.
As far as pots go, you suggested putting them into larger ones. Is it too late in the season to move them into larger pots? The trees are healthy but do look a little crowded.
If you go back and read Victrinia's comment you will see that there is an if in there.
if you want them to get bigger faster.
And she is quite correct, they will grow faster in a larger (within reason) pot or even the ground. You could plant them out and let them go for years if you wish. It depends what your goals are for these particular trees.

Often we see very young Junipers in pots and while that is not conducive to rapid growth it is understandable. Newcomers to bonsai want to have something that resembles an actual bonsai and retailers use that desire to their advantage. There is nothing horticulturally wrong with leaving them where they are for now. If after one year you still have these, hopefully your perception of what bonsai is will have matured a bit, you may decide to take a step backwards in order to speed their development. Or if you wish to be bolder, with more of an eye to the future, you certainly can re-pot them. It's your call.

Once you make it to Brussel's you will likely come away with a new feel for what bonsai can be. You might even pick up a piece of stock intended for further development. That will take the pressure off the two you have now. Good luck and let us know what you discover at Brussel's.

Norm

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Growing Bonsai - 101

From a technical standpoint, they are not crowded... but from a development standpoint they are.

Think of the crown and the roots as being somewhat proportional to each other... and realize you can not get thickening of the trunk without thickening of the branches which is caused by an addition/extension of the foliar mass... so they are all related, and if you stall one... you stall them all.

Roots in a restricted area can not extend and expand. The plan for bonsai is to control and encourage growth both above and below the soil, so that you can create something optimal in between (the trunk form and thickness). It's another reason that balancing light and air in the canopy is as critical as balancing air and water in the soil. All of these things combine to create vigorous growth. So getting it right from the soil composition (realizing that all water taken in by a tree is actually vapor and not the water itself) means that having a light airy mixture in which that vapor can occur because of the presence of sufficient air being drawn into the soil when you water... and suitable space into which those tender white root tips (which are the indicator of healthy root growth) can extend, is just as important as balancing air movement and sunlight to ensure increased photosynthetic process and decreased disease.

That being said... and mind you... 80% of the things you need to think about when developing bonsai have been boiled down into a nutshell in the above two paragraphs... read it until you know it like the back of your hand... it'll save you time and money like nothing I can think of.

So the next thing to know is how to balance and encourage those growths... it's the other 20%... and that's where factors like where the plant lives and how well you are able to create those optimal environments I have described come into play.

You want your tree to extend growth and there by add volume to the trunk mass... you have two distinctly different trees... which do this process in very different ways.

Conifers like your juniper tend to add trunk mass during the fall... this is especially true of pines. Though it is possible to extend a lot of growth during the early spring push and cause swelling of the branches, so you still need to keep an eye on younger vigorous trees if you have wire on them. Imagine if you will that the total amount of growth extension added during the growing season will be the amount of trunk/branch thickening added in the fall - but spread over the total area of the trunk/branches.

With deciduous trees like your elm, you'll get that added size as the foliage extension is happening, which means that you have to be watching wire on deciduous trees during the growing season.

So here's the nutshell of this... constant pruning will prevent that cumulative growth and no significant thickening of the branches and therefore trunk can occur. I'll talk about sacrifice branches - trunk chops later...

Now... both types of extension will equate into the same kind of extension in the roots. So while the tree has room to push the roots into the pot, it will be very vigorous above ground... so if you are developing a tree, you have to make sure that you do not create a constriction in root growth, or else it will result in what we often call "stasis" in the tree, where foliar extension and leaf size are very small and insignificant.

Stasis is important once you are working with a developed tree. Because you don't want to blow your design with juvenile growth... and you want those smaller leaves and needles. However it means that you will never get the growth you want if that happens to a small tree in a small pot, hence my advice to move them into training pots/containers.

Repotting of trees in development, when combined with root pruning should occur every two-three years in developing trees... and more like 5 years plus for mature developed trees. Do not make the mistake of thinking you can repot a tree every single year at this point... there are times and situations where that is both good and useful... but that is an advanced process with a very definite purpose (where your goal is to develop a perfect radial rootage on a tree and where you are NOT concentrating on the upper growth). Most trees will respond to root pruning with strong juvenile growth, but can take a year cycle to establish reserves to maintain optimal health. So repotting constantly will weaken the tree over time and lead to its possible death. It's also why we tell people not to do anything with the tree if they repotted it and then suddenly decided they would like a different view better. You have a window of opportunity when repotting a tree to totally change its view and character. So do it with care, planning, and thought... because once you do it... you have to live with it for a while.


So design.... how to get there. Most people want what they see in the photos of magazines and books. And most of that beauty is achieved by scale. Scale of the trunk to the foliage to the pot creating such a balance that you can't tell from the photo how big the tree is without someone putting in some familiar object for scale. Working with "pencils in pots" will not give you that sense of scale anytime soon. The way we achieve that sense of scale happens two ways... you either work with the tree which has been collected from a hostile environment over the course of many years (also known as yamadori) or you - or someone else - grows it. To get a pencil into a bonsai requires years of growing it out and chopping it back... preferably in the ground so that it has that unrestricted root growth. This is where trunk chops and sacrifice branches come into play... it is not unusual in the least to allow a part of the tree to grow wildly unrestricted for the purpose of adding that wood expansion that I talked about earlier.... so for example, with a pine... the upper part of the tree may be allowed to grow 7+ feet tall in order to achieve a 3+ inch trunk... while the lowest parts of the tree are being meticulously maintained to become the tree when it's collected from it's grow bed. When its collected the top part above the maintained section is chopped off and carved to become a deadwood element in the tree.

So lots to think about... and there are hundreds of variations and considerations inside of all of this... I am skipping fertilizers and chemical interventions at the moment. A lot of that tends to be subjective to the individual and the need of the moment. You'll read and decide for yourself what you like over time. Techniques on wiring and how to repot... those things are better learned in a class you can take at a place like Brussels... consider this a bonsai growing 101 lesson.

Good luck...

Victrinia
Last edited by Victrinia Ridgeway on Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Location: Bremerton, WA

hehehehe.... Norm... you beat my long winded post to the punch... I was in the middle of writting when you posted.

SF.... Norm is absolutely correct when he says it's all about your goals and what makes you happy in the end. My bit is more intended to help equip you to do what will make your trees happy as bonsai. :)

V
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

Marsman
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Vic,

I read your messages and I always come away feeling like I've been enriched.

Thank you. Thank you for spending the time to bring along those of us who are struggling to get our fingers around the basic concepts and the advanced techniques. You are a bright treasure on this forum.

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Gnome
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Victrinia,

From the timing of our posts and your comment about your composing while I posted (I've been in the same circumstance more than once) it is obvious to me that you spent considerable time with that response. Thank you for being interested enough to make the effort to compose such a detailed response. I hope that our other members appreciate the effort that you made, I know I do.

Norm

Victrinia Ridgeway
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You guys are so kind... thank you for your comments. It would be easy to fill a book with everything it takes to be successful with this art... and who knows... maybe some day I might write my own book. Not because I don't think that good information is available, but because I would organize it in a different way. I think there is an emphasis on technique over horticulture with most books... and horticulture is the keys to the kingdom when it comes to bonsai. Understanding the phyisological response and needs of trees as bonsai, especially in various enviornments, would be a life work... but so worth the doing.

I am very gratified that you found value in the comments... lord knows you both contribute a great deal to the participants of this site... so the appreciation is mutual.

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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StickFish
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I truly appreciate the teachings you guys give. Every time you reply to me I learn something new. :clap:

Victrinia, I'm going to be reading that post several times to make sure I really do get it.

Thank you for the tips, Norm. As soon as I finish posting this, I'm heading out to take care of my Elm. :)

I really am awed by the work you guys put into helping me. I'm honored that you take the time and effort. Again, thank you.

The sheer amount of time, energy, and resources that goes into growing bonsai -- years of dedication and care to grow a 'pet plant' -- seems daunting, but every time I think about it, I get excited. :D

Sincere and grateful,
~Ben

P.S. I'd buy your book, Victrinia. :()
"It has a beginning but no end. A bud today becomes a branch tomorrow."
"Bonsai is not the result: that comes after. Your enjoyment is what is important"
~John Naka

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Posts: 264
Joined: Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:46 pm
Location: Bremerton, WA

Ben...

Sometimes you say things to people and then they are like.... ok thanks... I'm going to do what I want anyway... and you let them go and hope for the best. But when you have someone willing to listen... there is nothing more important than feeding that passion. I had the same energy and enthusiasm you have when I first fell headlong into this pursuit. It is a pursuit... one you could happily be chasing for a lifetime. It was a little like falling in love... still is... sometimes you can't think of anything else... and find it wandering into your thinking at all hours of the day and night. It just sweeps you away... and there's nothing compared to it.

When I was in that space, there was a whole group of people around who nurtured that enthusiasum, all of them from an on-line community. If we make that same effort to set you on a sound path... then we have repaid those who took the time for us to some small degree.

Now my pace is more measured... because bonsai isn't a sprint, and I'm not as young as you...lol though I still get that crazy thrill whenever confronted with a tree that I've never seen before that fascinates me... I won't even get into talking about accent plants, scrolls, tables, netsuki, suiseki.... *shiver*

gawd I love this art....lol

V

PS. I do have a book coming out this fall that I collaborated on... photography though, not the writing. It's the biography of my teacher and a display of his work in photographs. I was one of the prinicpal photographers for the project. :lol:
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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Big Vine
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Fantastic posts, Victrinia. :D
BV
Sean
Indoor Grower
Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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SHS
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WOW

This is outstanding on all views. :!: Thank you all for the contributions of knowledge and thoughtful questions to allow this knowledge to be shared. I have read in a nutshell what must have been many years of trial, error, success and failure that could only be delivered by those that have been there.

I am sensitive to those that spout by rote memory. I have a strong BS meter. :? I also have a keen sense of detecting sincerity.

Thank you V and Norm for your patience and effort to post such helpful and thoughtful replies!! Both of you have a talent in writing clear and concise contributions. OUTSTANDING and easily understood outline V, I look forward to more Bonsai 101.

O:)

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Well you can thank Norm twice then... he's the one who asked me to come and play in the first place. 8)

I just enjoy this forum, its a nice place to drop by and hang out. I hope to continue to add to the body of discussion for some time.

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

Marsman
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Victrinia Ridgeway wrote:PS. I do have a book coming out this fall that I collaborated on... photography though, not the writing. It's the biography of my teacher and a display of his work in photographs. I was one of the prinicpal photographers for the project. :lol:
Be sure to let us know when it comes out.

El Woodrow
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Location: Tennessee

Hi all - I just signed up to say thanks to everyone for all the valuable info. Bonsai is something I've been fascinated with for several years but I'm only now beginning to get serious about taking the plunge. Well, except that time I fell victim to a "Home Depot" mistake, but we'll just move past that.

Victrinia, your post was maybe the most singularly informative set of paragraphs I've read yet...and I've been doing lots of research over the past several weeks. I think you hit the nail on the head about there not being enough info on the horticultural side of things.

Thanks to StickFish, Norm and Marsman too. You all have encouraged me to continue researching and, hopefully, put it all into practice soon.

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Gnome
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El,

Welcome to the site, glad you found us. I look forward to seeing what path you choose to take.

Norm

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