Graduation Into A Real Pot

Last year I potted this Shimpaku into a colander hoping that it’ll develop more roots. Unfortunately, due to the bad potting medium, and its propensity to breakdown easily, the Shimpaku didn’t develop as much roots as I wished.

Nevertheless, it still provides sufficient fine roots for a healthy root ball. I got a pot from David Johnson last summer, especially for this tree. After potting it into the new pot, it seems like a great match. I think I’ll keep it growing in here for a while. Due to the small root mass, the tree is a bit shaky even after the cork-screw method of holding it down. Since the tree won’t be moved, I won’t stress over it. I’ll just let it grow its way into being more stable.

Shimpaku Repotted

Shimpaku Air-Layers

I’ve had this tree in the show last year, and the comment that I keep getting is that the trunk is too straight, but at this thickness, there’s no hope to bend the trunk. Also, the tree looks very fragile with its height versus girth ratio. To remedy the two concerns, I’ve decided to take the plunge and air-layer off the top of the tree. The top portion with its well defined pads would be a rather nice Shohin. In order to expose the area for air-layering, I also had to remove a back branch. Nothing goes to waste, the back branch is put into a colander which will hopefully grow some roots and become a cutting. Since the back branch was developed as pad, the tree will look like a very two dimensional tree, but I’ll worry about that after it has rooted.

The Shimpaku I bought off Kevin Yates a few shows ago, also had a few branches I would like to get rid off. Since these branches also have significant foliage, I’ve decided to air-layer them as well. Hopefully, by the end this growing season, they would have all struck roots, and I’ll have more Shimpakus.

I personally like Shimpakus, since I’m of the frigidity type which always like to better the trees. With Shimpaku I’m given that opportunity throughout the summer and fall, as I’m always pinching away growth to ensure the tree keep its shape.

Hawthorn Initial Styling

The Hawthorn looks very messy, with branches going ever which way. After staring at it for a week or so, I’ve decided to style it and get rid of the excess branches. Originally, I was thinking to air-layer the excess branches and create more trees, but after giving it some thought, I really don’t need the extra trees to divide my attention.

So, out come the pull saw and the reciprocating saw, and off with the branches!

I like this composition, as it hides most of the ugly cuts on the back, and provides a very interesting trunk movement. There are some buds forming on the left side, which will develop into a main branch in the future. For the time being, plenty of sun to help those buds develop and grow.

Apple Tree Initial Styling

The two apple trees I collected last year have survived the collection, and they were sitting in my front lawn (in the ground) ever since they were collected last year. I got some very big colanders to put the trees into. Since I want the trees to develop a massive root mass, growing them in colanders is the only way to go. If past experience serves me right, by the end of the growing season, the pot will be filled with new roots.

Potting up the trees into colanders also allows me to put the trees in my south facing backyard, such that they can get full sun, while keeping them safe from the ravaging rabbits.

I won’t be doing anything with the windswept apple, but I’ll be doing some initial styling with the triple trunk apple (on the right, in the picture above).

I decided to use this side as the front, as it provides better taper near the roots, and the deadwood also provides some interesting texture. The smaller trunk on the left is problematic though, since it’s a very straight trunk shooting to the left. I still want to keep this trunk, as it compliments the main trunk well. The trunk is of a certain girth, so bending it is out of the question. These apple trees are very resilient to abuse, so, I’ve decided to go ahead and bend this trunk anyways. Before actually bending it, there’s a few things I want to do to help the bend. First, I cut slits along the trunk to allow for bending. The slits go in the inner curve of the bend.

A wider slit allows for a tighter bend, a smaller slits are for more gradual bends. When a branch is bent, the cambium layer on the outer curve tend to stretch and potentially crack. To avoid/reduce damage to the cambium layer, I proceeded to wrap the trunk with raffia. After wrapping it raffia, I bent the secondary trunk towards the main trunk and then secure it along the main trunk. The hope is that this trunk will continue to develop and heal over. Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to release the constraints, and the trunk will be set in place.

Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with the bend. I might keep this tree as a triple trunk. The main trunk might potentially be reduced in height in the future. It really depends on what back budding I get to work into a new leader.

Larch Repot and Pruning

Larches are usually one of the earliest trees to wake up from the long winter sleep. Therefore, they’re usually the first ones to repot and prune. Just when you begin to see the little green leaves beginning to pop out of the buds, is the prime time to repot and prune larches.

Last year’s larch forest didn’t do too well in the hot summer sun, three of the five trees fried in the sun, leaving me only two trees out of the forest. Of course, it’s not much of a forest with just two trees. So, I repotted the two trees into a smaller pot, and made a twin trunk composition instead. I think this little combination looks much more handsome than the forest. I’ll be keeping this tree under the bench for a few weeks for them to recover. I’ve noticed that larches need more time to recover from any root disturbance. I think the smaller tree needs the rest more than the larger tree, since the small tree didn’t put out much roots in the last growing season. I hope they both survive, it would really suck if I end up having a formal upright tree.

I also decided to work on my literati larch more this season. The literati looks too full, I wanted it to have a more weathered look.

The left side looks too heavy, and the top just looks weird… So, I started by taking off all the wires I left over winter, and then went on pruning, and wiring the tree.

I took off all the leaves from the top, this would kill off the top. I wanted to use the top as deadwood. I’ll just wait for the top to die off, then strip the bark. I also lighten up the left side, and wired the branches on the right into place. Hopefully I didn’t take out too many leaves. Given I didn’t disturb the roots at all, I have confidence that this tree will survive the ordeal. I just left this tree under full sun, and didn’t bother moving it into the shade. I think the full sun will help its remaining leaves develop.

Trident Maple Cuttings

During the last TBS meeting, there was a pruning demonstration of Karen’s Trident Maple. Karen was kind enough to share with me her pruned off cuttings. That night, I took the cuttings home and quickly potted them in. I have kept the cuttings inside my orchid fish tank since then. The most important factor for survival of cuttings is the humidity, and my orchid environment provides plenty of humidity. In two weeks, all the cuttings have began to sprout leaves. Since they’re doing so well, they should be putting out roots soon. Hopefully by this time next year, I’ll be able to pot them up into their own individual pots. Growing Trident Maple from cuttings is definitely much more rewarding than trying to grow them from seed…

Hawthorn Moves Into a Pot

This Hawthorn was collected last spring, and has been in the ground to aid its recovery. The buds on the Hawthorn have began to swell, therefore, it’s a good time to dig it out of the ground, and pot it into a pot (colander). Also, the pesky rabbit have been coming around every day and nibble off a few branches. Repotting it and moving it into a safer location seems like a good idea. When I dug the tree out, there are a few roots which developed further, but the roots are no where close to how my colander potted trees develop their roots.

I had to further cut down the thick roots in order for the tree to fit into colander. The reciprocating saw made quick work of that. Cutting the thick roots wasn’t much of an issue, because a majority of them didn’t have any fine roots hanging from them anyways. I was hoping to have more roots, but hopefully after going into the colander, roots will quickly develop. In the meanwhile, I’ll try not to disturb the roots as much as possible, in hopes of a quick recovery from the potting shock. Here’s what the tree looks like bare rooted.

The tree is now potted. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up cutting off a lot of excess branches. But in the meanwhile, I’ll let it grow and develop more roots. I might end up trying out some air-layering of the thicker branches come spring.