A few pine seeds, 6 years later.

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After reading Smoke's comments about wanting to see a mature tree that had been started from seed I thought I would post a few photos of my progress. Unfortunately, I can't actually supply a tree to satisfy his request but perhaps these progress photos will help a little.

My first son was born on March 22nd 2005 and I started a batch of Pines and batch of acorns that same week. Unfortunately, all the pines died because they were Monterey Pines and they all got pitch canker where I cut the tap roots. So, the following March I started a batch of 125 seeds of Japanese Black Pine. Now 6 growing seasons later (not quite 6 full years yet) I have quite a few pine trees coming along. They're starting to take up a lot of space. I'm putting the photos in chronological order.

Seedlings before cutting the tap roots:


Getting ready to put them all into 4" pots.


Before the third growing season I had given many away and potted most of the rest into pond baskets.


An exposed root pine in the fourth growing season (I love exposed root BTW.):


Same tree today, taken from the opposite side:


Another exposed root, (taken a couple months ago) although this one looks like it could be a twisted trunk until you look really carefully:


The same tree today from the opposite side:
 
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#2
a few more.

Another exposed root:
Sept 2014 Edit - This tree is discussed in a post on my blog here:
http://www.phutu.com/?p=79



Another, this one might end up being one of the best, the roots are already nice and fat and they twist around each other neatly


A fat little informal upright, trunk is only about 1.5" now but the sacrifice is growing nice and low and the finished branches are developing well also. The top will have to be grown up in the next few years.


Root over rock - the other side might be better, only the next few years will tell. The finished branches are wired but the sacrifice branch is still growing up. I cut most of the sacrifice branches back on these this past fall because the wind kept knocking them over but I only cut off one years growth so there's still plenty up there to fatten the trunk:


Informal upright - this one had the roots buried so I had to remove some of the soil so they'll start to form bark. This will be one of the larger trees and likely ends up at 16-20" finished height so the trunk will have to fatten for at least 4-5 more years before the lead is removed.


Formal upright - the only one out of the entire batch that I'm trying to make formal. The front is probably about 20 or 30 degrees to the right of where the photo was taken. To get the taper without the chop interfering you bend the leader over to the back and promote a small side bud upward. The bend here was made three years ago and the leader has grown quickly while the small but has grown quite slowly. When the leader is removed the nodes on the new trunk will be nice and close together allowing form more branches without grafting.


Root over rock shohin - the roots have gripped the rock well and I'm hoping that they start to go flat over it before I remove the leader.


The largest trunk that I have is about 2 inches across with about a 6-inch root spread, this will probably end up a slant style but it needs a few years yet. The first chop will be just beyond the visible foliage. Coincidentally - I think this is the largest because it was the first that I put into the larger baskets by a year.
 
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#3
I'm impressed. You have made some really good progress in six years. Some of them are quite interesting and look to have a great future as bonsai. Good for you!

Good pictures too. That is an important aspect of this if you wish to share the images, a good photo is essential.
 

cmeg1

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#6
They look great.That must be very rewarding to have them at that stage.It looks so fun to let a leader grow to fatten the trunk and nurse them final branches along.Great work.
 
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Those look like some very fun and rewarding projects! Good work. You used the "seedling cuttings" technique with these? Or did you just trim the seedling's tap-root and leave some roots.

What kind of oaks did you plant 6 years ago? Having seen what you've done with these black pines, I have a feeling you might have some interesting oaks to show us too.:D
 
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I did use the seedling cutting technique. Basically, I used the technique outlined in BT#20 and reprinted in the Stone Lantern Pine book. The pond baskets work really well, the few that I've repotted that have grown in baskets have no circling roots and every nook and cranny of the soil is full of fine roots. The roots are quirky too, not like the coarse roots that you get when field growing. Many of them have a very dense matte of roots right near the surface of the soil.

The oaks are much larger on average but not quite as diverse in appearance. They're Quercus Lobata, a California native deciduous oak with large leaves. I grew up about 100 miles north of San Francisco and spent a lot of time climbing oak trees in my youth. I'll have to get around to taking some photos. I'm styling them to look like native Valley Oaks which many people adore but few manage to portray as bonsai.
 

Smoke

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This is some really nice work. These will be great project thru the years and it is easy to see you have had good results. I look forward to seeing future progress.

Al
 
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#11
I'm inspired! I put some pines into the double colanders last week, now I only have to wait six years (I'll be 58 if I live longer than the trees).

What was your technique for the exposed root?
 
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#13
It’s truly a fantastic and helpful piece of information. I’m pleased which you just shared this valuable information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
 
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It’s truly a fantastic and helpful piece of information. I’m pleased which you just shared this valuable information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
 

edprocoat

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#15
Lol, I just referenced this thread in a thread I started in the general discussion area about root up or exposed root style. I could not find this thread for a while. I beleive you are the only person on this forum who has this style. I love the trees by the way, the semi cascade one with the mess of exposed roots in the basket is beautiful! I also love the one that you said looked like a twisted trunk its great too and looks far older than 6 years. This is some great work on these trees.

I am especially fond of root up styles, the more gnarly and twisted the roots the better in my eye, I posted one of my procumben nana junipers that I am growing this way and was told to "clean up those roots" lol ! I guess most here are not into that style although I have seen some stunning examples of this style elsswhere, your trees seem to be the only ones here, at least you got better feedback on yours. Of course mine is nowhere as sharp as yours are but I like it a lot.

ed
 
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#16
Ed,

Exposed root is a fun style - I like it because it looks elegant when done correctly. When growing from seed it can produce a tree somewhat more quickly than a traditional trunk if you know how. I'd encourage you to start young because training the roots to look like a trunk can only be done when the trees are small. I have exposed root in a few other iterations, perhaps I'll get around to posting one or two of them.

Cheers,

Eric
 
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#17
Eric, do they go over the process of exposing the roots in that pine book by Stone Lantern? If not, would you share your process with us? I just got a ton of seedlings in hopes to start projects mimicking yours, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. :)
 
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#18
I don't think that book has the BT article in it about exposed root pines. There was an exposed root article in the same issue as the Pine-from-seed article - I think that's BT #22 (I had a copy but can't find it now). It's a shame you didn't ask a month ago because I just started about a dozen more of them and I could have taken photos. But a basic overview would be something like this:

Start ideally with a 1- or 2-YO pine seedling -trim any long roots so that there is a small circle of roots, they should be relatively evenly spaced and come out of the bottom of the trunk all at or near the same place and at a steep angle. Meaning that they should not look like roots on an informal upright or other bonsai where you want them to exit the trunk and form a perfect spread. instead you want the roots to look like they flow into the trunk so that later it becomes harder to pick out the junction.

I use a pond basket - square, about 12 or 13", probably equivalent to about 2 gallons as the base container. Then I take a one gallon container and cut the bottom off of it to form a tube. I anchor that to the corners of the pond basket and bury the bottom edge about an inch below the soil line in the pond basket. Sometimes I use two 1-gallon nursery containers with the small ends both cut off and then stick them together to make the tube.

Fill the pond basket with bonsai mix, the normal stuff that you use. Then fill the gallon container with a mix of large and small pumice. You could use other materials but pumice wont retain nutrients so the roots will grow through it into the bonsai soil. You can use lava rock or even pebbles or whatever...the key is that there be particles up to about 1 inch in size or even a bit larger, you could put rocks in there if you want. This causes the roots to have to go around the particles so that they are not all straight when you expose them later. You don't want big air pockets in the soil so mix smaller particles down to about 1/8 inch in between.

Leave a couple inches of space at the top of the tube - take the seedling and hold it in the middle of the tube. Add bonsai soil around it until you fill the tube to the top. Anchor it in place with something from the top. I use guy wires attached to the copper wire that I use for shaping the trunk. Do not try to anchor it from the bottom as you would a mature bonsai because you want the roots to grow freely.

Let the tree grow for one season and then start removing the tube. Keep in mind that the height of your tube above the base container will determine how much root you are exposing and thus the height of your "trunk".

Here are a few examples:

The largest of the ones I posted previously. Note that after exposing the roots that grew through the pumice I bent them to the side. Often the roots will have some small movement from the soil but no larger movement so you can stake them or try to wire them to add a curve or twist after they have been exposed.



From the top - notice how the roots are not spread but flow into the trunk smoothly


Most of the rest of these are three years old. Here is one where I exposed the roots last year but decided that I wanted them to be longer so I put it on top of two more gallon containers this winter so that I could expose more. Dont forget to wire the new growth to harmonize with the roots.



On this one I originally spread one root away from the others and twisted a bud through the gap so that the tree would be intertwined with itself



If you have a 3-YO or a tree that already has longer roots you can try wiring them as a clump to make your trunk. This has it's drawbacks in that it's easy to create reverse taper in your "trunk"



Same tree from the top:


Chopsticks stuck in between the roots on this one to spread them apart.


This one started as exposed root when it was 2 months old - but I decided to extend the roots slightly so put it in this container.




Hope that helps. Personally, other than the large pumice or lava part - the most important thing is to just use your imagination and experiment with things. Remember that you'll always thank yourself later for adding a twist or curve to something young and pliable.

Cheers,

Eric
 
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#19
Frank,

Sorry I didn't see your question earlier. I use a lot of different fertilizers in rotation. Lately its been cakes made from Cottonseed meal, blood meal, bone meal and flour (to make it stick together). I use RO water so I have to add extra nutrients back in. I use Dyna Gro as a baseline nutrient solution in the water but I add fish emulsion at 1/2 strength frequently and lately also kelp extract at 1/2 strength because I've been seeing some mild chlorosis in the maple leaves. Pines like slightly acid so the cottonseed works well. I'm convinced that since I switched to RO last spring that I've been underfertilizing. So, my resolution for the season is to fertilize the crap out of everything and use weekly applications of neem and/or fungicide. Since I have mostly conifers I only have to worry about node length and similar over-fertilizing problems on a dozen or so trees.

Cheers,

Eric
 
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#20
Eric, thank you so much for the very in-depth response! That was extremely helpful. I received a shipment of about 30 JBP and JRP seedlings yesterday, and from their size I'm assuming they're about a year old. I snipped the taproot on ones that appeared healthy enough and potted them. Next repotting season I will begin your process.

I will begin to look for pumice distributors around my area this season so I can be prepared for next year. I don't think it should be too hard to find, but we'll see.

I have an idea...let me know what you think. I was thinking that instead of a regular plastic 1-gallon pot, I could make narrow fabric pots with chopsticks or something sewn in to make it sturdy. My idea is that this will help air-prune the roots, but it won't be as open as a mesh pot and would prevent the roots from drying out. Does this sound like a good idea? I thought if it were to slightly air prune the roots while they grow down this pot, it would create many fine roots and, as they're exposed, it would create a very dense look. This is, of course, just an idea and I may be completely wrong. lol -- Thoughts? Also, with the fabric pot, it would be easy to cut away the fabric to expose the roots season by season. I suppose the chopsticks could stay in place until all of the roots are exposed and the container is removed. This may even help in steadying the tree as the roots are hardening. . . ?

Your trees are absolutely incredible. I don't want to sound like I'm over exaggerating, but you've really done an amazing job. I'm curious, how long have you been growing trees?

I have much shorter growing seasons in Michigan, but I still hope to create some similar to what you've done.

Do you trim your trees back every year to keep the foliage close to the trunk?

In regards to fertilizing, do you use fertilizers with humus/humic acid?
 

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