Azalea Hatsu Giri - first bonsai help :)

nd16

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Hello all,

It's my first day here in the group. And this will be my first bonsai. :)

Apologies if this is already answered elsewhere - i'm learning to navigate the site.

I will repot this azalea hatsu giri tomorrow into bonsai pot.

My questions:

1. I want my azalea to look like a tree (not a shrub/broom), do I need to cut off all but one stem now, and just leave one stem growing? Or I do this later?
2. At roughly what point do I start to use wire around the stem?
3. I believe I should trim roughly 30% of the roots when i repot, is that correct?

Ill be doing lots of reading and maybe some online course to help me along but any help here would be wonderful. :)

thank you!

azalea 2.jpgazalea 3.jpg
 

Bonsai Nut

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Welcome to the site!

That is a very young azalea to move into a bonsai pot. To develop an azalea as bonsai, you typically would do your "pre-bonsai" development work outside of a pot, so the tree/plant will grow strongly and recover from abuse quickly - and then you move into a bonsai pot when you want growth to slow, and your development work is more about refinement than rough development.

Depending on your style and design, you would usually keep just a single trunk, and wire that trunk when the stem is still young and pliable. However once you add some movement to the trunk, you want that trunk to thicken - and that will only happen if you allow the tree to grow freely with lots of extraneous growth that will not be part of your final design. With a tree this small/young you would be letting the growth go for five years - or maybe longer.

Be cautious when moving an azalea from nursery soil that is mostly organic, to bonsai soil which will be mostly (or totally) inorganic. Azaleas have fine hair-like roots and it is easy to shock them.

When first starting out, it is very difficult to wrap your mind around the time scales involved with bonsai development. People toss out "years" when most gardeners are familiar with "days or weeks". This is why so many people who enjoy bonsai have many trees. It is not that we are tree hoarders (necessarily) but that we work on a tree, and set it aside for a year... and then have another tree to work on. When you see a "show" tree it is usually after years of work investment - but that work is spread out over the course of a year so that you might only touch your tree once per season. This is why it is sometimes better to buy an azalea "pre-bonsai" instead of a generic nursery tree. A pre-bonsai tree from a bonsai nursery may look rough, but it will have years worth of early development done to it - and you will have several years head-start on your journey.
 
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nd16

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Oh wow, I feel a bit silly now haha....

I read up about bonsai seedlings etc for a few days online however, you've made lots of great new points that I hadn't seen anywhere else yet so, thank you! :)

I'm not sure what to do now...maybe I will try to commence the pre-bonsai work as you mentioned....and look at buying a different plant that is already potted to start learning that stage of the process...

I actually have 3 of these young hatsu giri, all the same size. I will have to do some more reading and have a think about it!

Thank you so much bonsai nut !! :)
 

Bonsai Nut

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Oh wow, I feel a bit silly now haha....
Don't ever feel silly! Enjoy yourself! Even though I am giving you advice about how your tree is early on its journey, that doesn't mean that I do not keep or work with seedlings. You just have to know what you are getting yourself into - and how to get the best results fastest.

That is really the core of bonsai development. On one hand you have to learn the skills to style a tree. On the other hand, you have to learn the skills to keep the tree alive and super healthy. You can have two trees that you do the same initial styling work on... and one you put in a bonsai pot while the other you put in a raised bed planter. Three years later one tree may look more or less unchanged... while the other now has a trunk that is twice as thick. It is easy to get frustrated when your trees don't appear to be aging, because without knowing, you have applied principles that slow down growth.
 

nd16

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thank you :) im really excited about all of it anywho...and im sure there will be lots of trial and error :)

oh yes i see your point - i have a wonderful thriving garden but adding bonsai will be something else all together haha

thank you for the great starting information! i think ill take a trip to my bonsai nursery tomorrow and have a look what theyve done with their azaleas too :)
 

rockm

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This is apparently a Kurume azalea, as opposed to a satsuki variety. Azalea bonsai have specific care requirements that most other species (conifer and deciduous and tropical) don't have.

Do a search here on "Kurume azalea" and start reading up.
 

nd16

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This is apparently a Kurume azalea, as opposed to a satsuki variety. Azalea bonsai have specific care requirements that most other species (conifer and deciduous and tropical) don't have.

Do a search here on "Kurume azalea" and start reading up.
thank you rockm! i will do that just now
 
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