Birch seedling. Should I break out the shears?

fohtee2sir

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Hello,

I have a birch seedling that I am hoping to make into a bonsai. The plan is to go for a 12 inch tall broom style bonsai. Right now the plant is just over 4 inches tall. I read to top it 1/3 of the final height and then let the top grow out into the broom part. So my question is: Do I top it now or let it grow on longer. Seems to be early to top it, but I don't want any scaring that is why I started with a seedling. So I don't want to let it grow to big before I top it. When would be the latest I could top it without it leaving a scar?

Thanks for any advice,
Dean
IMG_0009.JPG
 

Luke FrankLin

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Let the wood harden, possibly next year? This way the following year when you trim the new grow it will fores new branching to occur.
 

sorce

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A Canadian Wait.

Waaaiiitt.

Welcome to Crazy!

If you go twelve inches high.....you want at least a 1-2 inch trunk..

It seems you may be going for a broom style not exactly suited to a birch.

When you..."top" an elm or a Zelcova, they shoot a ring of buds around the cut.
Those are used for the broom..
Your birch will likely need a different approach to make a broom.

You can heal a wound at one inch.
Maybe even 2......

Sorce
 

jeanluc83

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I would let it grow freely this year and see what you get. If you get good growth chop and repot next spring. If not you may just want to repot and not chop or even let it grow freely for another year.
 

wlambeth

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The ideal plan is to consider how tall you want the tree.
The next step would be to use the height to determine how thick the trunk should be.
Some experts say the trunk should be approximately 1/3 of the height.
Whatever you decide, you should let the tree grow and get taller.
Allowing the trunk to grow as a sucker branch.
This will grow the thickness of the trunk.
Once you have the height and width you want then you cut the trunk back with a flat cut across the top.

There are some methods you can use once the cut is made, such as wiring tightly at the top near the cut.
This promotes budding near the cut.
There are many posts about broom style trees.
In the meantime study, study, study!
 

Wilson

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Dude, you are in Calgary, get out to the mountains and collect some beauty wild trees! The birch is fun to practice serious patience, but killer yamadori are just fun!
 

Paradox

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Birch heal wounds very well. You need to let it grow and get a bigger trunk. If you chop it back, it will slow the trunk thickening considerably. Unless you want a broom with a pencil thin trunk?
 

sorce

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Break out the shears....

And set them down next to it....
With a scary message...

Every Tuesday morning....
Yell "grow mother %#^@! grow!"

You will be surprised with the results!

If that doesn't work.
Try Schultz' fertilizer drops.

Sorce
 
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Leo in N E Illinois

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There is a style of broom where the main trunk divides to 2 upward sub-trunks, these then divide again, giving you 4 sub-trunks, and again to yield 8, and so on. With this style of broom, the first division can happen around 1/4 to 1/3 the final height, then the middle 1/3 of the final height, all the major subdivision happens, and all the fine branching is in the outer 1/3. Maples in this style will have the first division quite low, American elms will have the division closer to 1/3rd or maybe a little higher. This can be used to develop an arching "wine glass" shape. Look at photos of American elm before the Dutch elm disease wiped them out. They are archetypal for this style.

KEY: Trunk will not increase in diameter once tree is cut back and / or put in bonsai pot. To get your 2 inch trunk you will need to move this birch to at least a 3 gallon size nursery pot, up to maybe a 5 gallon pot. Step the tree up to the larger pots as the roots fill the current container. Remember even tiny little Shohin trees 8 inches tall spent a large part of their training as 4 to 6 foot tall trees. You need growth to thicken the trunk, the kind of growth that gives you 6 foot tall trees.
 

Cypress187

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It has a long time to go, maybe collect one in the meanwhile?
 

fohtee2sir

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Dude, you are in Calgary, get out to the mountains and collect some beauty wild trees! The birch is fun to practice serious patience, but killer yamadori are just fun!
Oh I plan to. Got the $5 permit page all bookmarked and will be heading out soon. General rule I follow for near the mountains(not on, near) is after the ice melts on the local reservoir, wait a few weeks before heading out to the Kananaskis area so it gets to spring as well. Believe the reservoir melted off last week, and already had to tell myself a few times, "Not yet, Wait a little longer before heading out."
 
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fohtee2sir

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So seems the general consensus (ok the only consensus :cool:) is to let it grow. Putting the clippers away for now. Probably let it get used to the outdoors then plant it in the back yard for a few years. Thanks everyone for your help. This is just the kind of suggestions I needed.
 

fohtee2sir

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The ideal plan is to consider how tall you want the tree.
The next step would be to use the height to determine how thick the trunk should be.
Some experts say the trunk should be approximately 1/3 of the height.
Whatever you decide, you should let the tree grow and get taller.
Allowing the trunk to grow as a sucker branch.
This will grow the thickness of the trunk.
Once you have the height and width you want then you cut the trunk back with a flat cut across the top.

There are some methods you can use once the cut is made, such as wiring tightly at the top near the cut.
This promotes budding near the cut.
There are many posts about broom style trees.
In the meantime study, study, study!
Oh good stuff to know. Thanks. So 12 inch tree...4 inch trunk! Wow. That would be quite the taper. I am concerned about that flat cut across the top though. I often see "bonsai" in stores that look like someone cut a log in half and planted it. Maybe with a few branches sticking out haphazardly from the top. Growing this from seed because I am hoping to avoid that look, even temporarily. Is that possible or am I asking to much?
 

coppice

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If I lived on your side of the border I would be collecting larch, not birch.
 

wlambeth

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Oh good stuff to know. Thanks. So 12 inch tree...4 inch trunk! Wow. That would be quite the taper. I am concerned about that flat cut across the top though. I often see "bonsai" in stores that look like someone cut a log in half and planted it. Maybe with a few branches sticking out haphazardly from the top. Growing this from seed because I am hoping to avoid that look, even temporarily. Is that possible or am I asking to much?
It will look ugly for a few years but this is the joy that is developing a bonsai.
After the first spring you should have a few buds extending out at the top, then more the next year and so on.
Once you have several branches at the cut line you can then start ramifying the branches, which also provides taper to the branches and fills in the top.
This will take some years, depending on the species I would say at least 6 to 8 years.
There are plenty of books, magazines and blogs from more experienced people that will provide you much better intel than I can provide.
Finally, fertilize heavily!
 
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