Training a Bonsai Tree
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:01 AM   #1
hydrophyte
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Training a Bonsai Tree


Training a Bonsai Tree

I have been trying out a couple of new kinds of plants for use in ripariums that might be good candidates for developing more or less as bonsai specimens. I started another discussion over in the Aquascaping forum about the idea of borrowing from ikebana floral arrangements to design a planted riparium layout. Here is the link to that thread...

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...754&highlight=

I copy here the general proposed characteristics for a riparium of thi sort...
  • shallow and broad rimless aquarium enclosure
  • the best hardscape and gravel materials
  • graceful, slender and vertical driftwood branches
  • nano fish
  • erect riparium stem or grassy plant with open foliage and graceful form
  • shorter midground foliage providing depth and contrast

Some of the new plants that I have in mind for this kind of planting are swamp trees or bushes and I imagine that it might be useful to use bonsai methods for getting them into the right shape, size and proportions to go along with the tank enclosure and other parts of the layout.

I don't envision training a small tree as a formal bonsai intended to look like a large mature tree in miniature, but instead as something more like literati bonsai, which generally features a slender trunk rising up with natural curves. Here are some examples of literati bonsai trees... http://www.google.com/search?um=1&hl...w=1070&bih=590

I have one of the plants that I intend to grow like this already. Buttonbush is a native North America swamp plant in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) and it has attractive and fragrant white snowball flowers. Here is a still dormant plant that I got through an eehbay sale.



Most temperate zone trees/bushes like buttonbush do not like to grow indoors and require a cool winter dormancy period, but I found several references to growing it as indoor bonsai. So I'm going to try it out.

I have a few more pictures to share and I'll post more later. I should have more plant material this weekend and I'll try to get additional new photos and descriptions.


(Wikimedia Commons image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ce...cidentalis.jpg)
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Old 04-04-2013, 01:21 PM   #2
javajive1981
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That's a really cool idea! Hope it goes well.
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javajive1981 View Post
That's a really cool idea! Hope it goes well.
I will keep working on it.

I don't anticipate doing very involved bonsai training for these plants. I'll instead just try to select trees with the right kind of growth habit and use pruning to get the desired forms.
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:56 AM   #4
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The Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) that I ordered is supposed to get here tomorrow with UPS. It is apparently in a 1-gallon pot. I don't know if I will be able to fit it into a riparium planter. I'll have to see how extensive the root system is.


(Wikimedia Commons image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi...ucronatum1.jpg)
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:26 PM   #5
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The Montezuma cypress got here in good shape, but I quickly put it into "bad shape".

The root ball wasn't too big, but I had to cut out about 75% to get it to fit into the riparium planter. I hope that it will survive, but I won't be too surprised if this schock is too much for it.

I got some pictures. The foliage of this little tree is very attractive. I just need to process and upload a few image files and then I will link them.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:33 PM   #6
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I think it'll be okay. Give it nice coarse rooting medium and it should thrive. I would keep it out of the aquarium for now though. Its roots need all the oxygen it can get.
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Old 04-06-2013, 12:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffww View Post
I think it'll be okay. Give it nice coarse rooting medium and it should thrive. I would keep it out of the aquarium for now though. Its roots need all the oxygen it can get.
I already planted it in a riparium planter. I think you are right that the roots should be out of the water for now. I am going to hang the planter up so that only the base is in the water and with water wicking up into the gravel.
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:23 AM   #8
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They packed this little tree with lots of excelsior...

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Old 04-06-2013, 05:30 AM   #9
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The Montezuma cypress has such soft, pretty foliage.



The tree came in this 1-gallon pot. I wondered if it would be very full of roots (too much to trim off) but the root system was not so dense.

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Old 04-06-2013, 06:40 AM   #10
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Looks pretty cool. Hopefully it does well indoors.
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:09 AM   #11
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I should mention also that the buttonbush is starting to bud out pretty quick. It also has a number of new white roots growing in the planter. I will try to get pictures of that plant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffww View Post
Looks pretty cool. Hopefully it does well indoors.
I will find out. I ran into a few references to growing bald cypress as indoor bonsai, so it might work.

Here is the whole root system rinsed off and before I started to prune it.

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