Big box store Acer Palmatum

ceriano

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Can we discuss this notion of "better" material again? Obviously, trees that have been worked to improve nebari, trunk movement and taper, and branching are better material. These typically come with a higher price tag. For purposes of this discussion, let's take these types of trees out of the equation and deal with the more pre-bonsai type trees that we seem to be addressing here. I have found the following (general) sources:

- ebay, etsy and other similar online sites - unreliable, over-priced and generally not good material. I don't even bother.
- Higher-end growers - typically saplings/young trees. Pricier as far as seedlings concerned. Will require years of growth and development of all aspects of the tree. Roots are not yet giant lignified monsters and can be set up to grow properly. Good grower will provide a pot full of fine feeder roots.
- Local Bonsai shop - Again, young trees that require years of growth and development of all aspects of the tree. I have been unimpressed with the nebari and could not discern any special bonsai treatment to these trees. Potting soil slip potted into less crappy potting soil. Considering there are thousands of trees in the shop, this doesn't surprise me one bit. Trees have lower branching. I couldn't feel more like a tourist than after they provide me with a choice of bonsai pot and place a rock on the few pieces of actual bonsai soil they use as top dressing.
- Nursery - Larger caliper trees can be had. Roots can be a mess. Pricey. Year-end sales.
- Big box - Largish caliper trees. With the exception of one tree, each tree had roots that were fine for what this is. Usually 2 giant roots opposite each other as nebari. Cheap. Really nothing worth layering and I don't because I lose a season that I could have worked the roots.
- Ground grown for bonsai - For a price, larger caliper trees and, at times, movement/taper in trunk. Lower branching, but generally will need to be chopped etc.

My experience has thus far been that can I have a young tree for $50-$90 that hasn't had a chance yet to grow thick roots. They can be set up to grow nicer nebari. I am not growing in the ground, so it will be many years until I have a trunk that I want to work with. In the $200 range, I can have a ground grown for bonsai tree that has the caliper I want now. It's been in the ground for 8+ years. It will still need work to develop nebari and trunk movement/taper. In the fall, I can have a big box maple for $15.

I spend probably too much time surfing the web looking for trees and those $1,000 trees don't have the magical radial nebari either. Some of their nebari is in fact quite hideous. Others have a handful of oversized nebari - even I can do better. So what am I missing? Ultimately, when it comes to pre-bonsai, are we even looking for anything more than that starting point from which we will necessarily need to grow out the tree, prune it back to create movement and taper, develop nebari and ultimately branching? Seems like we are basically starting from the beginning, so why not start with a larger caliper on a tree that has already passed the survival of the fittest test in the rough commercial process?
I couldn’t have said it any better! just the shipping alone can cost more than some of these nursery material.
 

Shibui

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Everyone will have different ideas on what's good and what's worth paying for.
Those with plenty of disposable funds may opt to spend more to get quicker results.
Those with less funds or an ethos of DIY will opt to start with less developed, less expensive material and spend time instead.
Both paths are OK. Those following the second DIY development just need to understand how long that path will be. Real timeline will depend on many factors: where you start - seed or half grown tree; care and growing technique; what standard you expect at the end; etc.
With every step along the way there's chances of something not working as planned. Sometimes that just delays the final product, sometimes the problems are just not worth continuing so starting with just one or 2 trees and expecting to produce show quality bonsai at the end of 5 or 10 years is overly optimistic.
Each person needs to work out what years of work and possible failure is worth.

Starting with good bones will definitely save time - in the bonsai timeline that may mean 5 years or more depending where you've elected to start.
I start almost all maples here from seed because that gives me total control over the initial trunk development. Believe it or not I can grow a trunk suited to bonsai quicker than I can overcome the innate problems of commercial produced maples and convert one to quality bonsai stock.
I understand that most newbies won't take that seriously and you are welcome to ignore advice and try your big box bargains. You will undoubtedly learn a lot of things as you work with the trees that can then be used to speed up subsequent attempts and avoid some of the problems encountered first time round.

As for absurd prices on Ebay - Caveat Emptor. As already mentioned there are plenty of sellers looking for suckers to help in their get rich schemes. Just because you see a tree advertised at an exorbitant price does not mean it is worth that money.

As for where you can find good starting material at reasonable prices I can't help you in USA. Usually smaller growers seem to put in more effort to grow good stock so they probably don't advertise widely because of limited stock that sells quick among the small group of people who know. I can only advise to keep searching. Maybe word of mouth will be the best avenue to track down the few who are producing good stock and not charging an arm and leg.

In the meantime Big Box trees can provide some low cost opportunities to learn and to make mistakes before investing more on advanced stock.

BTW, Japanese maples of all sorts are harder to develop good bonsai than trident maple. There's a reason that there are far fewer JM at shows and on sale than trident maples, even in Japan where there are many experts growing and developing.
 

ceriano

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Everyone will have different ideas on what's good and what's worth paying for.
Those with plenty of disposable funds may opt to spend more to get quicker results.
Those with less funds or an ethos of DIY will opt to start with less developed, less expensive material and spend time instead.
Both paths are OK. Those following the second DIY development just need to understand how long that path will be. Real timeline will depend on many factors: where you start - seed or half grown tree; care and growing technique; what standard you expect at the end; etc.
With every step along the way there's chances of something not working as planned. Sometimes that just delays the final product, sometimes the problems are just not worth continuing so starting with just one or 2 trees and expecting to produce show quality bonsai at the end of 5 or 10 years is overly optimistic.
Each person needs to work out what years of work and possible failure is worth.

Starting with good bones will definitely save time - in the bonsai timeline that may mean 5 years or more depending where you've elected to start.
I start almost all maples here from seed because that gives me total control over the initial trunk development. Believe it or not I can grow a trunk suited to bonsai quicker than I can overcome the innate problems of commercial produced maples and convert one to quality bonsai stock.
I understand that most newbies won't take that seriously and you are welcome to ignore advice and try your big box bargains. You will undoubtedly learn a lot of things as you work with the trees that can then be used to speed up subsequent attempts and avoid some of the problems encountered first time round.

As for absurd prices on Ebay - Caveat Emptor. As already mentioned there are plenty of sellers looking for suckers to help in their get rich schemes. Just because you see a tree advertised at an exorbitant price does not mean it is worth that money.

As for where you can find good starting material at reasonable prices I can't help you in USA. Usually smaller growers seem to put in more effort to grow good stock so they probably don't advertise widely because of limited stock that sells quick among the small group of people who know. I can only advise to keep searching. Maybe word of mouth will be the best avenue to track down the few who are producing good stock and not charging an arm and leg.

In the meantime Big Box trees can provide some low cost opportunities to learn and to make mistakes before investing more on advanced stock.

BTW, Japanese maples of all sorts are harder to develop good bonsai than trident maple. There's a reason that there are far fewer JM at shows and on sale than trident maples, even in Japan where there are many experts growing and developing.
Other than starter plants there are not many options available online at least not in $200-$300 price range. what is the alternative really?
 

LanceMac10

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Those are just a couple of import Chinese elms that might be worth 1/10th what the sellers are asking for them. I really think that people overprice trees on eBay just to see if they can get a single sucker to bite, because they make a 95% profit margin on a single sale.

nope... https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/
 

0soyoung

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🤔hmmmmm ...

Just get the goddamn generic green acer palmatum. Maybe get more than one. You won't regret it.

With that done, you can continue ruminating about what to next add to your collection.
 

ceriano

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🤔hmmmmm ...

Just get the goddamn generic green acer palmatum. Maybe get more than one. You won't regret it.

With that done, you can continue ruminating about what to next add to your collection.
Tell me 4-5 beginner trees that’s worth ordering from them I’ll go ahead put in the order :) I’d rather combine shipping.
I ordered 2 JPMs from Mr maple today and each time I got hit with $20 shipping!
 

19Mateo83

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Tell me 4-5 beginner trees that’s worth ordering from them I’ll go ahead put in the order :) I’d rather combine shipping.
I ordered 2 JPMs from Mr maple today and each time I got hit with $20 shipping!
You got hit with shipping for each? Did you order them together? If you did order together and still got hit with $20 for each I would contact customer service. That ain’t right.
 

0soyoung

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Tell me 4-5 beginner trees that’s worth ordering from them I’ll go ahead put in the order :) I’d rather combine shipping.
I ordered 2 JPMs from Mr maple today and each time I got hit with $20 shipping!
Let's back up just a bit. The thread title is Big Box Store Acer Palmatum. It is to that which I said
Just get the goddamn generic green acer palmatum. Maybe get more than one. You won't regret it
I meant, buy the big box store generic green acer palmatum.

I happen to have 19 species-varieties of Japanese maple (and yet more maple species) most of which are landscape plantings. This is just my maple fetish.

The bare/leafless tree image is generally what is prized for bonsai. A few dwarf species make excellent bonsai, but the generally, the problem is their growth rates are too slow to 'get there' in a reasonable portion of one's lifetime. So, you'll wind up paying big bucks for these as pre-bonsai.
 
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ceriano

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I picked up one today. For $60 I feel it wasn’t a bad buy. Much larger than the stuff I get from mr maple for the same price.
 

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ceriano

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In that we are more or less selecting the trunk, do you mean post removal trunk growing?

Sorce
I took it out of the pot and this is how the roots look like. Should I cut the ones at the top?
 

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sorce

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I wouldn't.

I have become quite entranced with the benefits of anything that airprunes roots and focusing on never spray, including inorganic fertilizer, excluding proper compost tea as defined by Dr. Elaine Ingham.

Sorce
 
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