Barberry Potential


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Silver Lake, WI
Here I have a barberry that has been in my landscape well before we moved in over 5 years ago. It's base is over 5" in thickness with a nice ugly trunk and heavily textured bark. I see some potential as bonsai in it if I can tame it and address some of the awkwardness of it. It is in a narrow raised bed with what seems like a shallow root ball as it had quite a bit of movement when I pushed on it. I don't know the species of it. I am asking if anyone has any experience with these? I found some info on bonsai4me but not much more. Do they respond well from heavy pruning? I would like to lift it in the spring but "early spring" seems like a rather grey term as it will often snow and freeze well into April for us here. Does it not matter so much as long as it is still dormant and protected from late freezes?



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Dig this tree in spring when the buds start to swell and turn a bright color, just breaking open. Keep as much of the rootball as you can the first year, but you can cut the trunk way down and it will bud back. You may want to cut it to 12-18 inches or so, it is hard to tell from the pics. Plant in free draining soil, but don't let the plant dry out. It should pop buds all over. Rub off the ones you don't want, wire the new shoots right away carefully. The longer you wait the more brittle they are. Does this help ? I have a couple of these in training, some pics in my gallery.
Thanks Dave. Yes, that helps. Pics are difficult to get a decent view...especially trying to get under it and avoid the wicked thorns. I will take a look at your pics.
They make awesome bonsai, and can be cut back to almost nothing, and still grow new branches. Check out and look for the barberry multitrunk he made. Awesome.
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