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froggy
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Hidden Bonsai Material

I just thought it'd be fun to start a thread about commonly found house plants that could make bonsai.

After I went out and got a ficus to 'play' bonsai with :p, I kept on reading in here and realized I had a schefflera. And then I found I had a lemon tree as well (ok, maybe it's a grapefruit, but does it really matter?)...

i admit they still have to grow out, but i never thought 'bonsai' when i bought the one or grew the other.

Now I was wondering what you guys might have in your collections, that you didn't expect to be a bonsai when you were first growing it?

Indulge me, because canadian winter is just too bad a time to start working on bonsai - and I am getting bored. :p
I've got willow cuttings growing out from christmas day (why am i not surprised) and hibiscus, some weird apple (that looks like cherries) and lavender growing from seeds, and lastly an air layer on my ficus but except for the willow nothing is actually visibly changing... And before I start fiddling, I thought I'd bug the forum ;)

happy Monday :D


Karin
;)

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rainbowgardener
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Are you thinking of the lavender as bonsai material? Wow! Never thought about that one... but it does get a woody trunk on it and last for years...

You piqued my curiosity, so I went looking and found this:

https://gardeningbookmark.com/bonsai-tree/defining-lavender-bonsai.htm

Now you may finally have tempted me to try bonsai. I've been reading this forum for a couple years now and been fascinated, but have never tried bonsai myself. But I LOVE lavender and the lavender bonsai seems like it could be beautiful...
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froggy
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Well, I've seen it as bonsai online, but mine, apparently, are years from being anything near bonsai material - it's just my favourite plant :D
I've grown it from seed before, but that was outside, and in a different climate, so i have no idea how the chances are for these babies....
I am not sure if it is an actual bonsai or more a gimmick, but hey, I am also thinking of trying a rose bonsai :D and as long as I am enjoying what i am doing, the rest is terminology....
;)

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Gnome
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Karin,

Since you are considering herbs, how about Rosemary. I have several in pots, nothing terribly impressive but one does show some potential.
I am not sure if it is an actual bonsai or more a gimmick,
The thing is that many beginners get anxious and put (or buy) a small, undeveloped plant in a bonsai pot and begin to think of it as bonsai. Technically they are correct as the word bonsai translates to something along the lines of potted planting. But today we usually think of bonsai as a plant with at least a somewhat developed trunk, not simply a cutting, or other young material, in a fancy pot. The key for you will be to grow your material out for a few years in generously (but not excessively) sized pots, or even the ground if possible.
I am also thinking of trying a rose bonsai
That is not as unlikely as you might imagine. Again, the trick is going to be finding a trunk that already has some interest. Perhaps an old landscape specimen that has outgrown it location?

A few non-traditional species that I am working with (still rather young so not anything I would consider bonsai) are Bittersweet (Celastrus) and Wintercreeper. (Euonymus fortunei)

Here is a link that shows some of the more unlikely species, including Rose, Pepper and Poison Ivy.

https://www.phoenixbonsai.com/BigPicture/LessUsual.html

Norm

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Great idea for a thread! :)

I've started one from a Mountain Olive (aka Russian Olive). It's a highly invasive pest that grows all over the place here in Connecticut. It was planted by the state before they realized what a problem it would become. We can't get rid of the stuff. This was a stump I'd cut down the year before and it grew right back. This picture is from when I first dug it up and stuck it in a pot, 7/24/10. The pot is large because I dug up as much root as I could. I plan to trim the roots back next Spring and put it in a smaller pot. It has grown out quite a bit since I potted it. Right now, it's out on my bench, under cover, but frozen solid.

[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Mountain%20Olive/DSC_0011.jpg[/img]

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froggy
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Since you are considering herbs, how about Rosemary. I have several in pots, nothing terribly impressive but one does show some potential.
Yeah, I was thinking rosemary, for me its in the same league as lavender, but i've never had much luck growing it from seed, so maybe i'll get one that's big enough to work with in spring.... just gotta keep the 'chef' away from it :p
Here is a link that shows some of the more unlikely species, including Rose, Pepper and Poison Ivy.

[url]https://www.phoenixbonsai.com/BigPicture/LessUsual.html[/url]
can't imagine poison ivy as a bonsai, i mean you've seriously got to be determined to keep handling that one...
I've started one from a Mountain Olive (aka Russian Olive). It's a highly invasive pest that grows all over the place here in Connecticut. It was planted by the state before they realized what a problem it would become.
Sounds like your conditions are just perfect for that species.... And noone would mind if you remove a few :D

OK, now my list of trees to try is growing bigger than my space...
;)

JTred
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Marsman wrote:Great idea for a thread! :)

I've started one from a Mountain Olive (aka Russian Olive). It's a highly invasive pest that grows all over the place here in Connecticut. It was planted by the state before they realized what a problem it would become. We can't get rid of the stuff. This was a stump I'd cut down the year before and it grew right back. This picture is from when I first dug it up and stuck it in a pot, 7/24/10. The pot is large because I dug up as much root as I could. I plan to trim the roots back next Spring and put it in a smaller pot. It has grown out quite a bit since I potted it. Right now, it's out on my bench, under cover, but frozen solid.
I've found that "weed" trees can be excellent practice material. They grow fast and are resilient. Plus usually nobody minds if you dig up a bigger one because there are usually too many to begin with. As long as they have small(ish) or reduceable leaves and have a woody trunk they will work. an alternate leaf pattern is a bonus.

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bonsaiboy
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Although they grow more like the early schefflera bonsai rather than real trees, pothos plants get woody, and by getting them to grow in the right direction when they are still soft, they can make decent bonsai. Money trees started from cuttings also make nice bonsai. In fact, almost any woody plant can be used as a bonsai, although tastes toward the more 'traditional' bonsai limit the list. Still, good more traditional bonsai houseplants might include...

Schefflera arboricola
Ficus species
Money tree; Pachira (started from cutting)
Poinsettia
Jade plants
Fuken Tea
Citrus
Coffea species
Dizygotheca 'castor'

This is a list of plants that I have tried to bonsai with moderate success that do well in the average indoor setting. I'll try to get a picture of a few of the better looking ones.
הדמיון הוא יותר חשוב מאשר ידע

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bonsaiboy
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Well, better looking one. Unfortunately, my greenhouse blew over recently, and as a result most plants either suffered damage or lost a few leaves due to shock. This is the poinsettia bonsai, after shedding most of the leaves it had. Note that even though I've kept it in shade, the leaves reduce rather well. The image quality isn't the greatest either, as I used my cell phone.

[url=https://img841.imageshack.us/i/poinsettabonsai.jpg/][img]https://img841.imageshack.us/img841/7813/poinsettabonsai.th.jpg[/img][/url]

I am still in the process of training and wiring it. When I'm done, I hope to get a nice broom canopy. I had another one I was training as an informal upright, but unfortunately it parished in the storm that destroyed my greenhouse.
הדמיון הוא יותר חשוב מאשר ידע

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manofthetrees
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cool to see the rose bonsai. i have 7 plants that are 40 to 60 years old that i moved 2 years ago but one just doesn't fit in.they have large trunks but the wood isn't very dense... if these ideas keep coming I'm going to have more bonsai than ground growing trees in my yard :shock: :D . ive seen rosemary and tyme grown as bonsai, the really don't get thick trunks but still look nice ... and you can season your steak after prunning

b-covert
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Hello everyone... Longtime lurker first time poster.

I've been working with English ivy for the past several years. I know its not unheard of but I don't think its real common. They are very versatile and hardy plants to work with. The first one is a little over 3/4 of an inch thick.

[img]https://i1107.photobucket.com/albums/h386/b-covert/bonsai001.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1107.photobucket.com/albums/h386/b-covert/bonsai003.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1107.photobucket.com/albums/h386/b-covert/bonsai004.jpg[/img]

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froggy
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I've thought about ivy, but thought it might take 'forever' for them to thicken up - how old is that first one?
;)

b-covert
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The first one was pretty thick when I got it... I would estimate 25-30 years old. The second one I started from a clipping off the first 2 years ago. The third I collected from the side of a house 4 years ago.
You can find fairly thick material growing wild. I will be hunting for more this spring.

Marsman
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These are two Boston Ivy that are in Nick Lenz's garden.
[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Nick%20Lenz%205-22-10/DSC_0050.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Nick%20Lenz%205-22-10/DSC_0051.jpg[/img]

He's also worked on Poison Ivy, but he didn't have any when I was there. There are some very thick creeping vine around here that I may try to dig up.

derkap10
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No idea if it would work but I've been considering trying a kudzu. Just for fun.
Happy little trees!

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applestar
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I don't know WHY I didn't drop in on this thread earlier! 8)

I don't want to discourage Rainbowgardener, but the purple flowered bonsai in the link she mentioned looks like wisteria to me.... :? Growing and training a native wisteria in tree-form in the font yard is one of my NEW PROJECT! For this year. Once I have that going, I should have plenty of cuttings or air/ground layered wisteria to play with. Still, Lavender should make for an interesting bonsai, shouldn't it? I have one that is not in an ideal spot. Maybe I could dig it up.... :wink: It's next to a volunteer mulberry that is also in a wrong location and has been root pruned a couple of times already so it can be potted up this spring.

I'm thinking any woody trimmed perennial that has tendency to back bud easily and is not too difficult to grow in containers (outdoor winter hardy, or indoor culture) should work, shouldn't it? Smaller leaves and naturally shorter internodes are criterias, or any of my avocado treelets could be a candidate (I have plenty of citrus seedlings, and 3 poms that have been elevated to potential bonsai status). I WAS surprised to see that mango bonsai. Hot peppers have been added to the list of possibilities -- I always thought the woody stems looks interesting... But I'm not sure if they would be long-lived enough. I have plenty of overwintering peps now to consider. :D

I have all kinds of "weed" volunteer tree seedlings in the garden that I've been allowing to grow for potential bonsai material, and now I'm adding my invading nemesis the English ivy to my list. I was unable to keep up with uprooting the invasion from behind my back fence last season, so come spring, I should have some interesting candidates to choose from! :twisted:

Victrinia Ridgeway
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I was about to let her know the same thing (as I too had not read through this thread before)... that's wisteria... but, that not withstanding, I have seen lavender bonsai and it's very sweet. A friend of mine has a shohin (small) sized one, which I've coveted for some time. :)

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

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rainbowgardener
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Interesting... the article the pictures were in was about lavender bonsai. So maybe the authors made the mistake? Nowhere in the article is wisteria mentioned!
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