Boxwood love

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I collected these 2 Boxwoods back in February from my neighbors yard. She thinks they were planted there in the 50's. The roots where very compact with excellent nebari. The new growth flush has hardened off and a new one in beginning. I take this a a sign of success and so now that I am reasonably assured of them not dying I have decided to post this.

I plan to do many airlayers next spring as I bring down the height for the style of which I have not decided upon yet.
 

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RyanFrye

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Marc,

Those Boxwood trunks are massive! Is the good nebari hidden under the soil? I believe you're Zone 9 like I am here in Central Florida. I have worked on my boxwoods during February and I've never had any negative results.

Ryan
 
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Yes, I planted them quite deep. I did not want to disturb the roots to much just to take pics. I always hate to disturb the soil ecology as the fungal colonies establish. It's like a rice crispy treat now.
 

grouper52

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Yes, I planted them quite deep. I did not want to disturb the roots to much just to take pics. I always hate to disturb the soil ecology as the fungal colonies establish. It's like a rice crispy treat now.
Great trees! Old yard boxwoods are just awesome, and these are beauties.

In my experience, boxwoods put out incredibly copious roots no matter what you do to them. I can't imagine a small amount of messin' with the roots will put them much in jeopardy.

Your choice of container for proportion is exceptional, although those in the know up here will often prefer their Drop Top Amber Ale for the most sublime bonsai inspiration. I'm enjoying one as I type, and although I'm only half way through it, already a Mountain hemlock out the window is calling to me for a radical re-style. The People's Republic or Oregon just raised the tax on beer breweries by 7,000% or somesuch, so maybe the Widmer Brothers will be bringing their class act to your of my state soon. One can only hope.

But I digress - :) - truly great trees: you'll have fun with those!

G52
 

redvw5

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Just wonderful material. Wish I had neighbors getting rid of some boxwoods like that.
 

RyanFrye

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In my experience, boxwoods put out incredibly copious roots no matter what you do to them. I can't imagine a small amount of messin' with the roots will put them much in jeopardy.
It's all about timing. I'd hate for a newbie to read this and think they can mess with the roots any time of year. Early spring is really the safest time of year to do root work....after that could be a death sentence.
 

grouper52

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It's all about timing. I'd hate for a newbie to read this and think they can mess with the roots any time of year. Early spring is really the safest time of year to do root work....after that could be a death sentence.
Ryan, You may be right, but then you might need to expand the statement to "It's all about timing AND climate."

Up here in the Pacific Northwest, "Bonsai Heaven", where almost nothing ever dies, it's a much different climate than yours. I've had no problems at all doing fairly extensive root work on boxes any old time of year, except I don't recall ever doing any in mid-winter.

Even mid-summer, the recovery from emergency re-pots with moderate root pruning (after a dog knocked several off their perches) once impressed me quite greatly with phenomenal root growth, some of the most impressive I've ever seen on any species.

About a dozen years ago I got a sickly large one in the sale bin at a Memphis nursery in mid-summer, and that very evening I chopped it extensively, root pruned extensively, put it in a bonsai pot, and put it out in the sweltering Memphis heat - recovered immediately.

Three years ago in summer I bought 2 small ones and 3 slightly larger ones in nursery pots for a group planting, and transferred them immediately onto a shallow slab after significant root pruning - none of the five showed any set back at all.

Two years ago on a hot sumer day, I got a 2" trunk boxwood from a sickly looking hedge, dug it up, and immediately transferred it to a fairly shallow bonsai pot that required moderate root pruning to fit in - it never missed a beat, growth taking off almost immediately.

This year, based on such past experiences with them, I took a huge, severely root-bound nursery box during an unusually hot spell in late spring, and unceremoniously removed about 2/3 of the roots (and all the soil with fairly aggressive root hook work), while transferring it to a training pot - it never missed a beat, and roots were filling the pot in no time.

Of all the trees I've worked with, they seem the most oblivious to even drastic root work, and the most phenomenal at quickly filling a pot with new roots. I might add, though, that all my boxes are Korean ones - I find them the most attractive - and perhaps other species don't fare as well.

Of course, neither our summers nor winters here in the Pacific Northwest are severe, nothing to speak of at all (except in terms of precipitation), but as I said my oldest box did fine with rough root handling in the midst of Memphis summer heat. Santa Cruz, where FourMileMarc lives, seems a fairly benign climate, but I could be wrong.

G52
 

RyanFrye

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I stand corrected. Your right it does depend on climate. "Hot" where you are is definitely not the same as "Hot" here in the sunshine state!
 

grouper52

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I stand corrected. Your right it does depend on climate. "Hot" where you are is definitely not the same as "Hot" here in the sunshine state!
LOL! I imagine there's not very much you can afford to be cavalier about during your summers! But I sure do envy you your growing season!

G52
 

Rick Moquin

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It's all about timing. I'd hate for a newbie to read this and think they can mess with the roots any time of year. Early spring is really the safest time of year to do root work....after that could be a death sentence.
You are absolutely right there Ryan.

I as Will have had favourable results whenever but, it is not something I would endorse to just anyone, too many mitigating factors.
 
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Grouper 52,

Yes I was very surprised at the recovery on these. They were overgrown hedges and I wacked off most of the foliage. The spaded in close once I discovered this massive basket weave of roots right off the trunk. More feeder roots than you could shake a stick at. They were so heavy I had to remove most of the field soil with the water jet just to get them to my trunk.

My climate is cool and rainy about half the time in the winter. It never gets hot and is usually foggy all summer long. The new growth has been explosive. Air layers next spring, then the start of initial styling the spring after that seem to be a good schedule for these.
 

rockm

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My experience with old and very old boxwood is their root systems may not be all that compact and it can be dangerous to collect them all at once.

Here in Va., old boxwood (100 and even 200 year old plants are pretty common), can have the first feeder roots at least three feet out from the trunk. This can depend on local soil conditions, but here in the sandy loamy soil of the Va. tidal region, roots on old plants can run a very long way.

That can present very difficult collecting conditions. Digging very old plantation grown boxwood shouldn't be done all at once. Digging one side one year, backfilling with bonsai soil and leaving for a year or two, then returning to do a full collection is best with these plants in these parts.

Also, I've been surprised by old box' ability to survive without roots post collection. Had one that lived almost two years, despite having no roots and even pushing new growth (and expiring quickly afterwards). Old trunks have alot of inertia--they can go for some time on reserves.

Generally, box are extremely tough, but pushing old trunks can be a bring disappointment sometimes.

P.S.there is a disease here in the East that is killing off old boxwood. "Boxwood decline" is a disease that can affect collected English boxwood (sempervirens suffruticosa) plants, as well as in ground plants. Constantly wet soil can open the door to the infections that cause it.
 

pauldogx

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P.S.there is a disease here in the East that is killing off old boxwood. "Boxwood decline" is a disease that can affect collected English boxwood (sempervirens suffruticosa) plants, as well as in ground plants. Constantly wet soil can open the door to the infections that cause it.

So this is a fungual disease???
 

rockm

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There apparently isn't a consensus on exactly what causes it, although fungal infection is part of it.

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/plant_pests/shrubs/hgic2052.html

I know it has claimed plants in old boxwood allees at Mt. Vernon and perhaps at Monticello too. Prevention involves elevating poorly draining beds and improving drainage, also removing crowded foliage. Both of those things are essential in keeping box healthy as a bonsai. I constantly see boxwood bonsai that are pruned only on the perimeter of the foliage outline, when deeper pruning of not only extension shoots is necessary, but interior shoots also. You have to open up the foliage to allow sun and air into the interior of the plant. If you don't, you will lose interior foliage and branches just because of lack light.
 

pauldogx

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Thanks rockm---just starting to get into some boxwoods. I'm here in Pa--so not too far north of you.
 
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Actaly, These guys were well irrigated in the landscape with a clay barrier about 16" under the soil. It seems to already have a bonsai root system. I had to use my axe and it was like chopping through many layers of wicker basket. There was no attachment underneath due to the clay layer. Probably a pretty good area to grow out tree's in the ground.

Anyone have experience with airlayering these?
 
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