My first post. I finally decided to document my learning journey of attempting to make and maintain bonsai or nasty looking material I currently own that I hope some day will be bonsai. I wanted to show some of the recent things I learned and report on some other things.
Just as fast as summer came, it is gone and cold weather is starting to take over. My trees are just starting to show some of the first signs of upcoming dormancy with water uptake greatly declining and deciduous leaves beginning to turn color.
I decided to start today because in my next upcoming posts I will show you how even if you have a balcony, how you can create an effective winter storage with simple materials and give your trees the winter love they deserve.
Firstly, my tropics are inside for the past 14 days now as the weather quickly dropped from our blazing 35+ Degree Celsius (~95F) to about 15-10 degrees C (~59-50F)
In my experience from previous autumns and winters, even though both of these trees look very un-kept and messy, it is better to leave as much photosynthetic material so that they have a better life during the short and colder days.
Next up, I bought a White Pine from a nursery in Modrice, close to Brno, that I am not very fond of but nobody else has this kind of material around here so what were my choices? I picked it because it has some decent lower branches, movement, a good graft with the obvious black pine (thunbergii) root system and the nebari wasn’t bad either so I chose it.
Here one can see the obvious and boring straight section that is a natural growth habit for these pines and it HAD to go. For a commercial buyer that is new to Bonsai, they would have probably kept it.
After the first styling I realized the top right branch looked terrible so I changed it a bit in the last picture of this tree but I wanted to point out some things to new enthusiasts wanting to embark on owning a white pine. I was an idiot. I almost killed this tree. The more photosynthetic material you can have, the greater the chance the tree has to survive any styling and continue growing happily. White pines also have a problem of hating wet soil. I believe this was not the original imported container but it was definitely in this container for at least 3 maybe 4 years by the looks of how root bound it was, this meant that watering was a sensitive subject for this tree, which I realized a bit later.
Instead of just pulling of 3rd and 2nd year needles. One should pull a few and test to see how much sap flows from the wounds. It is a much better bet just to cut the needles close to the branch and then let them fall off down the road naturally. I was a bit too eager and pulled off quite a few because I believed the tree to be healthy and this time of year the 3rd year needles are already beginning to fall of with the slightest touch. I then continued to remove many of the 2nd year needles as well so that I could style the tree more effectively and I also wanted my design to look good, big mistake (I should have known better from past experiences).
A week after styling I came back from short trip and saw that the needles seemed to be fading from their green/blue color to a paler looking color. I panicked, what can I do now to help this fella?! After hunting the internet for answers and not really finding any, I realized the only thing I could do is to remove the tree from the small pot and get it into something that breathes much better. Don’t ever re-pot this time of year unless you really know what you are doing! I did something called slip-potting. I removed the tree from the container without touching the root system at all and placed it into a larger container with Pumice, pine bark, zeolite and prayed. I also began to mist the tree a lot, including some fertilizer in the spraying as well. The root system was in trouble but the needles can still absorb water and macro nutrients.
This is a week after the first styling. You can see the pale looking needles as well as the new container I placed the tree into.
3 weeks after styling and 2 weeks from the last pair of pictures above. I think it’s safe to say that this pine will live but I am really ashamed of myself that this happened. Very amateur of me. I have now watered the tree only 3 times since the time I styled it. The roots need to breath and the condition they had in the last pot was not acceptable, I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw them.
Here is the tree today and I think it will survive. As you can see, I changed the placement of the top right branch to fit the design better. I will do my best to ensure that this guy survives my stupid mistake. Lesson: Make sure your pines are in a good substrate mix and not something that retains excessive moisture for long periods of time. If your needles start to change color to yellow or brown or are fading like mine did, it is almost 100% something to do with the roots, too much moisture around the feeder roots.
Next some of the first leaves to change color on my Birch. This tree grew amazingly well this summer after collecting it in April.
Anyone who does Bonsai, kills trees, it just happens; unfortunately even when we try to provide the best possible growing conditions. Here are my victims this year, I also think the rough and very hot summer didn’t help either:
And, I will leave this post on a positive note with my biggest tree in my collection, a Hornbeam that happily survived collection and some carving that was done this year. I am looking forward to improving it with time.
Until next time, take care!