I’ve had these brush cherry cuttings for a long time. They’re growing into each other, and quickly running out of room. I figured it’s a good time to do something with them, so that they don’t just look like one big bush.
I purchased a forest planting pot from a backyard sale earlier this year, and it looks like the perfect pot for the job. Planting all these trees into the pot will be difficult using conventional means to secure the trees, since the holes are most probably never at the spots where you want to secure the trees. Rather than anchoring the trees into the holes, anchor a wire mesh to the pot, then anchor the trees to the mesh. Ultimately it might be difficult to get the mesh out of the roots once it grows in, but I’ll worry about that when faced with that problem in the future.
Now I’ll sort the trees from smallest to largest. I will be creating a forest planting with two planting groups. The centre of the each group will be the largest and second largest tree respectively. The rest of the trees will be placed around the main tree of each group. After placing every tree in their rightful place, I tied each tree in place and start filling in the pot with soil.
After some more wiggling with my chopstick to get all the soil to fill each nook and cranny, the forest planting is complete. I’ll just leave it out of the sun for two weeks to help it recover from the disturbed roots.
The Brush Cherry cuttings I obtained two years ago, are now growing very vigorously in their individual pots. As they continue to grow, I can see a single root getting thicker and thicker, and in some cases, even pushing out and protruding out of the soil. Rather than having a single root that overwhelms all the others, it would be desirable to have spreading roots of equal girth radiating out from the base of the tree. One way to avoid a single root taking over, is to root prune it, to ensure the other roots are given a chance to thicken up.
Since these are tropical trees, they are pretty much growing all year round, so repotting it now shouldn’t be a concern.
Coincidentally, I also found these very small colanders at a dollar store. Since they are the perfect size for these 2-4 yr old trees, I simply bought a dozen.
I repotted all three Brush Cheery Trees, and pruned the roots heavily, to ensure the vigor of the heavy roots are reduced. In order to balance the tree, I also heavily pruned the branches and leaves. I ensured a sacrifice branch or two are left to continue thicken up the trunk.
They will now rest under semi-shade for a week, at which time, they’ll be brought back into full sun to continue their fattening up!
Tropicals are kept indoors to escape the icy death grip of the harsh Canadian winter. The brush cherries have been doing exceptional well under the LED light over winter. Now that Spring is just around the corner, the sun is travelling higher up in the sky, and light is streaming in through the south facing window, adding much welcomed sunlight to my growing area. The brush cherries are going through its Spring growth spurt and putting out a lot of new growths. I also started fertilizing them using the same fertilizer I give my orchids. Once the weather outside warms out, these will be out for a summer vacation.
Over the winter, I have also transferred them to larger pots with 50/50 organic/inorganic mixture. I’ve noticed that the brush cherries grows better with soil containing higher moisture. I also experimented with pot materials. I kept most of them in a plastic pot, and one in a terracotta pot. Since plastic is not porous and terracotta is porous, the medium dries up significantly faster in the terracotta pot in comparison to the plastic pot. The terracotta pot medium would dry up within a day, while the medium in the plastic pot will stay damp the whole week. The trees in the plastic pots have been doing noticeably better than the terracotta pot tree. Now I’m of the believe that these trees like moisture.
The lone tree in the terracotta pot.
The other trees happily in their plastic pots.
After a very mild summer, the seedlings are beginning to put out some more new growths.
This black pine seedling cutting is developing a brown trunk, although development is slow, but it looks quite healthy. From now on, I think I’ll always plant my seedling cuttings in bigger pots. I find them do better than the small ones. Possibly because the bigger pots don’t dry out thoroughly throughout the day. I’m thinking if the tree dries out, it hampers its development.
This black pine seedling was also done this year, this one is growing very fast as evident from the new growth at the centre of the tree. I find that the pines like the turface more than akadama. Maybe because of the bad quality of my akadama, they seem to decompose and settle down to a dense muddy medium. Next spring I’ll pot the pines from akadama to turface.
The larger Mikawa black pine is also putting out some new growths in the lower parts of the tree after I rebalanced the energy through plucking out the top growths.
This white pine seedling cutting is putting out some new growths at the centre similar to the small black pine cutting seedling from above.
This white pine seedling cutting is progressing well. Although it has not put out any new growths, but it seems to be surviving. I’m contemplating whether to bury this one outside along with the other trees, or keep it in the garage this winter. It depends on how far along the root system develop by winter time.
The brush cherry cuttings are also putting out a lot of new growths. For the rest of autumn, I’ll continue to fertilize these trees with high phosphorus (low nitrogen) fertilizer to help them harden for the winter months.
The Brush Cherry Cuttings I got back in March are showing some new growths after I moved them out doors under the protection of a colander. The colander allows in around 50% light, and the Brush Cherry cutting seems to like that a lot. The cuttings was growing in pure vermiculite. It’s been haunting me that the medium may be too water retaining, and may eventually rot the roots coming from these cuttings. I bite the bullet and decided to pot up these cuttings into their own space. But to do that, I first have to dug them up. I was surprised that most of these cuttings didn’t have any roots, although new growth can be seen from these cuttings.
Nevertheless, I still plotted them as if they had roots. Inspecting closely at the injured end of the cutting, I can see some callus formed which wraps the wound. Perhaps these pseudo-roots were acting as roots and drawing moisture.
It is encouraging that four cuttings had visible roots. But rather than radial roots, they were tapping roots. As tapping roots doesn’t make for an attractive Nebari, I trimmed the roots to force some back-rooting and hopefully some radial roots.
The left most column and the one at the back on the second column had roots. The rest had “pseudo-roots”. I dipped them all in rooting hormone before repotting them into pure Turface. These will again be sitting outside under the colander at least until July.
During the last Toronto Bonsai Club meeting there was a workshop for working on the Brush Cherry (Syzygium australe). These tropical trees are very flexible, and will flower, and produce fruits. It was quite informative for me to understand the steps in transforming a nursery stock into an early bonsai.
- Determine the front of the tree.
- Decide on the main branch, it will mark the 1/3 point of the tree, thus, also determining the total height of the tree.
- Now work up the tree to find the secondary branch and onward.
- Repot the tree into the bonsai pot after some root pruning. Thread tie-down wires through the drainage holes. Put a mount of bonsai soil at the bottom of the pot. Work the tree into the mount, poking the soil to ensure there are no air pockets between the roots and the soil. Now use the tie-down wires to secure the tree.
- Work the upper 1/3 of the tree to find a new leader and reduce the top such that vigor can be directed downwards to develop the lower branches.
After the workshop, I also walked away with a handful of cuttings. Hoping that these cuttings can develop into some new plants.