Geek
Full Member
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri May 18, 2007 5:11 am
Location: Mississippi

Beginner Trees

First of all, hey to all. I am glad I found the boards here.

The wife and I do a lot of gardening and I have had an interest in starting a bonsai or ten. :D The only bonsai I have ever dealt with was a gift and it promptly committed sepuku. I was working 60-70 hours a week and my wife was always at work (nurse) as well so I guess it was lonely and wanted to go to the big garden in the sky.

I now have more time now (work for myself at home and can set my own hours) so I was thinking of giving it a try again. I have been looking at trees and I have a short list of trees that I want to try and wanted to run them past you folks to give me an idea of growing difficulty. I live in N Mississippi, we get hot humid summers and some teens in the winter.

1. Eastern White Cedar-For a grove
2. Chinese Elm
3. Japanese Red Pine
4. Japanese Elm

I will be doing these from seeds or 1-2 year plants if I can find them. I chose these trees for aesthetic reasons. I would also like a willow but I like the small leaf trees and I haven't found a name on the one willow I saw that I liked.

In the time it takes to get them going I will practice on some common trees like a juniper, boxwood, and maybe a pine of some sort.

My question is are the trees 1-4 hardy in zone 8 for outdoor growing as a bonsai? I do realize that some plants will need to be indoors during winter but I couldn't find details on these 4 plants.

I have spent time reading the stickies and I am doing more reading and research as well. I haven't gotten anything yet as I still need to do more learning before I spend the cash.

Anyway thanks for spending the time reading this long post.

ynot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:49 pm
Location: USDA Z:5a Sunset Z. 41 IL

Re: Beginner Trees

Geek wrote:First of all, hey to all. I am glad I found the boards here.
Welcome Geek 8).
...the big garden in the sky.
BGITS...It comes with the territory I am afraid. But we go on :D

"Dead trees are the tuition you pay to do bonsai." ~ John Y. Naka [Google him ;)]
I have been looking at trees and I have a short list of trees that I want to try and wanted to run them past you folks to give me an idea of growing difficulty.

1. Eastern White Cedar-For a grove
2. Chinese Elm
3. Japanese Red Pine
4. Japanese Elm
My question is are the trees 1-4 hardy in zone 8 for outdoor growing as a bonsai? I do realize that some plants will need to be indoors during winter but I couldn't find details on these 4 plants.
Zone 8 you will require a bit of [wind protection is always good] protection on your coldest nights but they will be good for the most part, Err on the side of caution and see the details below.

Here are care sheets on each species:
EW cedar is not listed but people do use them as bonsai. [url=https://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=eastern+white+cedar+bonsai&btnG=Search+Images]See here.[/url]
https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Cedrus.html https://www.bonsaitalk.com/links/cgi-bin/sfp/sfp.cgi?https://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/indexgen.html

C. Elm
https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Ulmus.html https://www.bonsaitalk.com/links/cgi-bin/sfp/sfp.cgi?https://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/indexgen.html

No red pine was listed here either but again[url=https://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=japanese+red+pine+bonsai&spell=1]people use them.[/url]
https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Pinus.html https://www.bonsaitalk.com/links/cgi-bin/sfp/sfp.cgi?https://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/indexgen.html

J. Elm
https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Zelkova.html https://www.bonsaitalk.com/links/cgi-bin/sfp/sfp.cgi?https://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/indexgen.html

Now that some monstrous linkage is out of the way... I am curious why you want both a C. Elm [ulmus] and a J. Elm [Zelcova] excepting the spring/fall colors they look so similar they are often mistaken for one another. {Perhaps you were looking to keep the Ulmus indoors over winter?}

A Pine from seed is a long project indeed! Very very long.

You will find much of interest in the articles at these two sites.
https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics.html
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm
I will be doing these from seeds or 1-2 year plants if I can find them. I chose these trees for aesthetic reasons. I would also like a willow but I like the small leaf trees and I haven't found a name on the one willow I saw that I liked.
Seeds eh? Even using saplings your looking at several years of growing on before you really get to do much with them. This is the longest route to bonsai possible [Especially with pines]... Just so you know. :)

Small leaves...You may be also be interested in Olive, Pyrocantha, Holly [Japanese], or other small leaved shrubs which are often used to make excellent bonsai. Larches are an option also.

You may want to research 'leaf reduction' as this concept may open up your choices to some other species you suspect to be unsuitable.
I have spent time reading the stickies and I am doing more reading and research as well. I haven't gotten anything yet as I still need to do more learning before I spend the cash.
Always good to hear.
Anyway thanks for spending the time reading this long post.
:lol: No worries :twisted: You have plenty of reading ahead of you :P;) :lol: 8).

Good luck

ynot

PS. If you need some bonsai inspiration...[url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=25]See here.[/url]

EDIT: {Reply to Gnomes edit in the next post} Technically-Yes, But Almost-No {It's just the way I am wired 8) Besides, Your posting only 20 minutes after me..:P ;) :lol:}. Thanks re: This post. :D.
Last edited by ynot on Mon May 21, 2007 10:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Geek,

Hi and welcome. I'm glad to hear that you are doing some reading first.
1. Eastern White Cedar-For a grove
2. Chinese Elm
3. Japanese Red Pine
4. Japanese Elm
Of these I am familiar with Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) and Japanese Elm (Zelkova serrata), both can make fine bonsai and are good beginners trees. I think I would avoid Pines for the time being, especially from seed, as there are some unusual strategies required when working Pines. I have nothing to say regarding the Cedar.
I will be doing these from seeds or 1-2 year plants if I can find them.
Please reconsider this approach as seedlings are a very round about way of beginning with bonsai. Some feel that growing from seed offers a greater degree of control, especially WRT the formation and placement of roots that will eventually form the nebari, or exposed root buttress. I find growing from seed interesting but I think it would be better if you started with something a little further along, perhaps in conjunction with seeds if you wish. This thread has some further thoughts regarding [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5050]growing from seed.[/url]
My question is are the trees 1-4 hardy in zone 8 for outdoor growing as a bonsai? I do realize that some plants will need to be indoors during winter but I couldn't find details on these 4 plants.
This is not really an issue since they are in pots you are able to provide them with the level of protection that each requires. To be more specific you should look up each species hardiness zone and go from there, realizing that trees in pots are at least one zone more tender than their full sized counterparts in the ground.

As I said above I do grow both types of Elms you mention and provide only minimal protection in my area which is considerably colder than yours. I have kept both species outside under mulch and inside an unheated garage and both have done well under either circumstance.

As far as indoor trees, that would be tropicals and sub-tropicals. The only one on your list that is even remotely suitable, to my knowledge, would be the Chinese Elm. Some do overwinter them inside but I have never done so. If you can/will provide the necessary environment you can as well, but you can deal with this issue later in the year.
I have spent time reading the stickies and I am doing more reading and research as well. I haven't gotten anything yet as I still need to do more learning before I spend the cash.
Excellent, glad to hear it, this can spare you a disappointment that might turn you from bonsai again. By the way my interest in bonsai is in its third incarnation now, and now that I am a little older, more committed and hopefully more knowledgeable, things are going much better. Be aware that you will lose trees, we all do. I seem to lose something each year, so don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Norm

EDIT: Ynot, don't you ever sleep? :wink: Excellent post by the way, very well structured.

drzaiusx11
Full Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:13 pm
Location: Andover, MA. [USDA Zone 7a]

Hi Geek,

Some info on E. W. Cedar (Thuja Occidentalis):
https://www.rgbonsai.com/thuja.htm
https://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/trees/thujaocc.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thuja_occidentalis

I've grown an Eastern White from seedling (it was a sprout when I found it in N. Maine). Its 5 years old now which, believe me, is a testament to its hardiness. Its VERY resilient to overwatering which was my main mistake early on (after all its known in many parts as the "swamp cedar"). Infact, white cedars were used to construct ships and house shingles because of its resistance to rot [1].

You'll find growing from seed rewarding, but you might want to get some older trees to experiment on.

Don't have any elms or pines, so I can't really comment on those...


[1] https://www.folklife.si.edu/explore/Education/Waterways/Boatyard/atlantic_white_cedar.html

Geek
Full Member
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri May 18, 2007 5:11 am
Location: Mississippi

Re: Beginner Trees

ynot wrote: I am curious why you want both a C. Elm [ulmus] and a J. Elm [Zelcova] excepting the spring/fall colors they look so similar they are often mistaken for one another. {Perhaps you were looking to keep the Ulmus indoors over winter?}
I liked the look of the trees and I asked about both in case one was not compatible in zone 8 that maybe the other would be. Since they both seem compatible I think I will go with the C Elm as the leaves seem more to scale if what I have read and seen in pics are correct.

ynot wrote:Small leaves...You may be also be interested in Olive, Pyrocantha, Holly [Japanese], or other small leaved shrubs which are often used to make excellent bonsai. Larches are an option also.
Thanks for the tips there I have now been looking at those as well. Scale is important to me for aesthetic reasons so I figure if I start with the right tree it will help get the tree to scale with the leaves. I haven't been to fond of trees that have a great trunk and branch shape but still have huge (compared to the scale of the tree) leaves.
ynot wrote:You may want to research 'leaf reduction' as this concept may open up your choices to some other species you suspect to be unsuitable.
I may have to give this a try once I get some experience under my belt. With my current skills or lack there of with bonsai it seems like a sure way to kill a tree for me to try that :D I may have a tree I practice that on to see if I can get it to work but definitely not a large percent of them until "perfected".

I think I am going to try and find a handful of young EW Cedars for a forest setting, a Chinese Elm and one other tree yet to be decided that are of decent age. I will start boxwood and a juniper from Home Depot or Lowes to try shaping to get practiced. At the same time I will start some seeds and a few 1-2 year trees on the path to becoming bonsai trees.

Practice on the boxwoods and junipers, enjoy the older trees and just maintain them without major health risks as best I can :D , get the little ones going for the future and by the time they are old enough I should have some type of knowledge to work them.

But as for plans, they don't always go umm...as planned :D

Return to “BONSAI FORUM”