carolc
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:27 am
Location: Poland OH.

new bonsai-er

I'm just getting started with bonsai. I just bought a small ( 1 ft. ) sycamore tree from my local nursery. Not sure where to start. Should I cut the top first or prune the roots first? Pinch the leaves? I know it will have to be outside during the winter, but if it gets to cold here in Ohio, should I bring it in for a few days? Thanks for any advice. carolc :roll:
carol needs help

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Carol,

Hello and welcome. Putting aside the suitability question, which is not insignificant, you seem to be falling into a pitfall that is all too common for new bonsai enthusiasts. You are starting with very young/immature material from which it will take a very long time to create a credible bonsai.

Since you are just starting out why not take a step back and use this winter to do more research on suitable species and bonsai techniques. Two quick hints; look for species with smaller leaves and try to find something with a larger, within reason, trunk. In short rather than put a lot of effort into marginal material you are in the perfect position to leap ahead in your efforts in bonsai by starting with better material.

I'm sure some of the others will have more to say.

Norm

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

It is very cold hardy. Worst thing you could do for it in the middle of a cold winter would be bringing it in to a heated house. Huge change it isn't adapted to, might trigger it breaking dormancy. It is an outdoor tree.

As Gnome says, I wouldn't be in too big a rush to do anything to it. The art of bonsai is patience. Let it sit and thicken up while you look at it and learn about bonsai and develop a vision of what you want for your tree.

Sycamore may not be the easiest bonsai, but not impossible. But remember what you are trying to achieve is an image of a mature tree in miniature:

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3073/2891835167_f12384cafd.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3331/3576809936_9fdb65f564.jpg[/img]

Note the trunk diameters on these little trees. The only way to achieve that (in this generation), is to let your tree grow in a big pot or in the ground until it has a trunk diameter at least approaching what you want.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Carol, your sycamore is tougher than you think. It needs a winters slumber with its pot nestled into some garden dirt and some leaves for a mulchy blanket.

Make yourself a new years resolution to read at least three books about bonsai between now and april.

Can a tree with large leaves be trained as bonsai? Yes and no. It can't be pruned back to a mame (more than one fits in your palm) sized bonsai. It has been done as two and four hand sized trees, by coppicing it after growing it to feild for a time.

I have just started a thread with the subject line "can you buy your way to bonsai bliss". Here. It may lead to more questions.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

I backed into bonsai by growing sticks in pots. Welcome to the club carol. ;)

Can you train up a fire thorn? (Tom is pushing a PM to an open forum) Yes, yes you can. if it has a failing, it is because it too sounds like another 'stick inna pot'. I won't tell you not go grow sticks. But will urge you to go on search for a stump of heroic proportion.

One big enough to flip a stolen shopping cart over as you load it.

If your library and tool bundle are well started and you are collecting soil specific to bonsai. IMO you'll be well under way.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

User avatar
koiboy01
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:49 pm
Location: U K

Hi,
As a bonsai beginner you have made the wrong choice with a sycamore as there leaves are much to large and will look out of proportion to the trunk.can you find something with smaller leaves ie a cotoneaster or a lonicera nitida or something similar, and remember that trees are for living outside unless they come from warmer climes.
best of luck.
koiboy01
anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

koiboy, did you not like the pictures I posted? They are sycamores. But clearly the secret to bonsai with a large leaved tree is a large trunk. You couldn't make a very small bonsai and you can't do clip and grow.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Koi's selection of small leaved trees (or at least his stated prefference for them) is germain to a new grower who is just starting to collect trees.

My hope for both Koi and Carol is to respond (to them) as gently and as you are to keep 'em here and playing nicely.

I still have a sugar maple on my bench. And after only fifteen years its training is finaly showing a little progress...
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

User avatar
koiboy01
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:49 pm
Location: U K

Hi Rainbow,
There is nothing wrong with your photo,but I think it would be highly improbable that a beginner to bonsai could or would come across a sycamore with such a large trunk as yours, they would only have a stick with large leaves,my concern for the bonsai beginner was to find a plant with a small leaf as they would have an easier start to making a bonsai and there are plenty of small leaved trees and shrubs to pick from.
koiboy01
anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Koi I will make a cup of coffee wager Rainbowgardeners sycamore was 20 feet tall before it was coppiced short.

In order for Carol to re-create this tree she IS going to have to plant her first stick back to field for a period of years, to plump up the trunk some.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

User avatar
koiboy01
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:49 pm
Location: U K

Hi tomc,
I fully agree with you, at least twenty foot and quite a few years old,as we are both of the same opinion let's both have a drink of coffee.
koiboy01
anyone who never made a mistake never made anything.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I can't speak to that as they are just photos I found on line, to illustrate possibilities. But yes, clearly they were good sized trees that were given trunk chop, not sticks in pots.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Carol your persistance in wanting to actually ramp up a learning curve will if you continue, get you to the front of the exhibition (salon) before you know it.

If you run the 'way-back' machine here your gonna find about 50 single posters who give up for lack of attention to detail, for their new tree. For every single grower who persists. Has their tree prosper, and continues on.

Its easy for this old cripple to get (too) busy. A half hour sent at my benchs fiddling on my tree babies, sorts out my day and leaves the babies lookin' better too.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

Return to “BONSAI FORUM”