Beanpole nursery bought U. parvifolia

grog

Shohin
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Last fall in my new-to-bonsai-going-to-buy-anything-I-can-afford I was pretty sure I'd gotten a pretty good deal. Two chinese elms in 2 gallon pots standing about 12 feet tall. Jackpot!

Or not. Twelve feet tall doesn't mean squat for their trunks as I've found out. Their bases are maybe 1" diameter. How I managed to overlook this crucial aspect of them is beyond me and probably subject for a pretty lively debate.
The 12' beanpoles are now 1 1/2 - 2' beanpoles, I chopped them both down to the lowest branch I could find.

My tentative plan is to reduce the trees once more this growing season at (hopefully) a much lower bud. Unless I let these two grow wild for a while the 12' trees will probably end up being about 6 inches tall.

I suppose the question I'm dancing around here is whether it's worth the time it would take to make something out of these cylindrical trunks. They've served their purpose as a learning tool on what NOT to buy so they're not a complete loss as it stands right now.

Any thoughts or comments appreciated.
 

Bonsai Nut

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With elms you don't have to chop them to the first branch, you can chop them all the way down to the ground and they'll pop up new growth. If the trunks are straight at the base, you might want to chop them low, and prepare them for broom-style growth (a classic style for elms).

Check out this link for an example of a zelkova getting "the treatment".
 

grog

Shohin
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Thanks Mr. Nut. I remember reading that article but had forgotten until I looked at it again.

I think the most interesting thing from these trees is for me to realize how stupid pig-headed I can be sometimes. I bought these trees in early October. At that time I had read three different books on bonsai and online I'd read every article on evergreengardenworks plus every article I could get my hands on from numerous different sites. Everything tells you what to focus on. Trunk and nebari. So what do I do? Buy two 12 ft. sticks. My genius positively astounds me sometimes.

It would be quite rewarding to have something worthwhile come from two trees that were so frustrating when I finally looked at them critically.

BTW thanks also Bnut for asking for the update on Gnome's zelkova post.
 
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One of the most important propagation facts to know about ulmus parvifolia is that there has probably never been a root cutting that did not take. The roots are exceedingly strong. Air layers are similarly strong, and even trunk cuttings properly struck take amazingly well. Sorry you got this info after already cutting them back so hard.

I have a friend (yes, I actually have them) with a corkbark chinese elm planted in his garden. He wraps aluminum bonsai wire around a portion of the branch and waits for the cork to completely cover it, at which point he air layers it and has the beginnings of a very thick trunk and good cork. I haven't seen the ultimate outcome of such attempts, but they start very well.

As has been said, no one is a complete failure. One can always be a bad example. Not to say you did anything wrong, but no tree is a complete loss. Any tree can be propagation stock.
 

grog

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Actually I got about 15 cuttings off each tree. It's not the right time of the year for it but I thought I'd try anyways. Dusted with rooting hormone and stuck half in sand at a greenhouse (still the most successful rooting method I've seen) and the other half are in perlite/bark with a plastic tent/covering. Some of the cuttings are large'ish and questionable whether or not they'll strike but all they cost is the rooting hormone put on them and I think I can handle that. :D

It's not really too big a deal that the trees won't turn into anything. The most interesting thing I find about buying them is that I pride myself on being a rather analytical, rational person and had read a LOT on what to look for in potential trees yet still made such a classic, repeated mistake. Definitely some food for my own thought.
 

Dwight

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I also am a beginner and I've come to find that if you don't do this at least once you're not really trying.
 
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I like to look at it like I am growing trees. I have only been into bonsai for a year but I have been growing trees in pots for many years. They get to big eventually and I have just planted them out at my rentals, there I cannot enjoy them any more after I move:mad: :( . So I decided to try to figure out how to grow tree's and not plant them out when they get to big, I discovered bonsai:eek: . Cut the roots! what, chop to 12 inches:eek: I just needed someone to tell me it's ok, at the right time of year with the right treatment its ok. So here I am with many 1,3 and 5 gallon trees, I got very exited and did not realize that It was going to take forever for these little guys to become mature mini trees. But wait, I have been doing this all along anyway right. When I first shifted into bonsai mode the next tree I bought was a 1 year old cedar of lebanon and immediatly pinched it root pruined it and put it into a "bonsai" pot in the middle of summer:confused: . This goes againsed everything I have ever learned as an certified arbourist and it almost died. Why did I do it? Because I haddent captured the missing link beetween growing a tree in the landscape and bonsai. They are really one in the same in that you have to grow the tree in the landscape first or a big pot, duh and then strategically reduce it when its ready, or your ready with the image of the lower trunk/nebari. For now I will just be patient and grow and enjoy my tree's as they are in nursery pots for a while and not worry to much about the final product.
I found a wholesale nursery near my house that has a little gold mine of old 25 gal junipers with 2 inch trunks and very developed branch scaffolding for 70 to 100 bucks each and when I have enough money I go buy one and start the styling and learning in this area(lots of trial and error learning), but no more root pruining at the same time! There is no point in putting it into a display pot for at least 2 more seasons, the above ground portion needs to be close first in my opinion. Point being, enjoy those pecker poles you bought for what they are for a while and then when your signifigant other starts bitching too much, or the trunk looks good, prune! I wish I had a larger yard, or a girlfriend that loved trees.
 
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