2021 Five Year native tree challenge; CreekChalks Cedar Elm ( Ulmus crassifolia)

CreekChalk

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This tree was airlayered from June-Sept 2020.

I’m new to Bonsai, not sure where this tree will end up but I’m excited to learn along the way. Feel free to make suggestions or critiques.
 

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Buds everywhere! It seems to be much healthier than I thought.
 

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New growth going crazy! Should I be doing any pruning to branches growing in clumps or any wiring to set the initial branch structure? Do I just let it grow?
 

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Wait to wire branches until they're a little farther along, maybe 12-18" in length and hardening off. It's too soon now, judging by the photos.
 
Should I snip the clumps back to one branch each? Pics added above
 
I'd leave a couple at each point; it's nice to have a spare. Cedar elms are tough as nails, so you shouldn't have any issues once your root system gets established. This is best gauged by foliar growth. For a layered specimen, when you wire be careful not to move the trunk too much, to avoid damage to the tender new roots.
 
Alright, thanks for the advice! I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do, this will be the first tree that is mine from start to “finish”.
 
Alright, thanks for the advice! I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do, this will be the first tree that is mine from start to “finish”.
Good luck. I've "finished" off quite a few bonsai in my time, so I try to go with the term showable :cool:
 
Good luck. I've "finished" off quite a few bonsai in my time, so I try to go with the term showable :cool:
Lol good point! Although I don’t know if I’m ready to produce a “showable” tree yet. I still have a lot to learn.
 
So 2023 brought root rot due to me being a noob and not removing all of the spaghnum from the air layering process. Emergency root work done in August 23, moss removal and repot.

Pics are from today, buds just starting to open.
 

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Looking very healthy! I’m leaning towards air layering it at the red line, blue mark will be new leader… thoughts?
 

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Looking very healthy! I’m leaning towards air layering it at the red line, blue mark will be new leader… thoughts?
I wouldn't shorten it that much. There are very few cedar elms with such dramatic movement like your has at least from the CE bonsai I've seen. I would keep most of that extension beyond the blue mark, using some of the branching further out to emphasize all that twisty movement in the trunk. I think removing half of the trunk would make lesser trees of the two resulting. My opinion though. If you do air layer, you'd get decent trees, though.
 
I wouldn't shorten it that much. There are very few cedar elms with such dramatic movement like your has at least from the CE bonsai I've seen. I would keep most of that extension beyond the blue mark, using some of the branching further out to emphasize all that twisty movement in the trunk. I think removing half of the trunk would make lesser trees of the two resulting. My opinion though. If you do air layer, you'd get decent trees, though.
I actually totally agree now that you say that.

It just seems too long and without a lot of taper but that will come with more age? It does have some larger branches right at the base to hopefully improve the thickness.

The bottom line is I’m a relative beginner and I’m getting impatient.

Patience young grasshopper!
 
I actually totally agree now that you say that.

It just seems too long and without a lot of taper but that will come with more age? It does have some larger branches right at the base to hopefully improve the thickness.

The bottom line is I’m a relative beginner and I’m getting impatient.

Patience young grasshopper!
I have found that you can get decent taper using extension branches on CE. If you use one of smaller branches nearer the end of the trunk, you can allow it to grow unpruned then prune it back hard. That process repeated a few times will give you some taper. Takes time though. Once a branch is allowed to get dominant on CE, they can thicken relatively quickly (like five years or so. You can also induce taper by making the end cut on the diagonal with the cut facing away from the viewer/front of the tree.
 
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