Brachychiton Backbudding

Guffmeister

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Hi!

I have a number of brachychiton plants that I've grown over the years from seed I got in Spain. The very first two have grown very tall, almost 5ft at the moment, but only have foliage at the very top. The base of the trunk has become very thick and bulbous, and excellent bonsai material, but then there's about 4ft of leggy trunk until the first leaf.

Does anyone have any experience with this type of tree, and give any tips or hints as to it's growing behaviour? I'm thinking about just trunk chopping it early next year and give it summer to produce back buds, but I'm not convinced that it will produce buds that far back, and I'll probably just end up killing it.

I've learnt not to let the rest of my brachychitons grow too leggy, and keep the growing tip nipped back when ever I can. Even then, new buds only form at the uppermost nodes, and they slowly get taller and taller.
 

timhanson81

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I have grown a number of Brachychiton australis from seed and have trunk chopped a couple of them with no problems. I actually just did a Google search for Brachychiton australis and found this link: http://www.carmexco.com/HTMLs/product.aspx?C1010=12582&BSP=12216
It looks like they are trunk chopping with success as well.

I also had high hopes for these plants because of their amazing trunks, but as you have found, they don't seem to have the greatest growth habit for bonsai. I think they would make an interesting large specimen, but I have pretty much given up on them for now.

Good luck.
 

Attila Soos

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As long as you do it in the warm season, when they grow strongly, you can cut them back hard. I have a few species of Brachychiton, they grow fast, develop thick trunks, but they are a very difficult bonsai subject. Also, you need to avoid them developing the tuberous root base (often seen on mallsai ficus).
It is very important to grow them in instant-draining medium, they are prone to root rot, especially during the cold seasons. The wood is very soft, almost succulent-like, prone to rot.

I grow them more as a curiousity, without any expectation that they will make good bonsai.
 
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Guffmeister

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Oh! That's good to hear! They're beginning to look a bit too leggy, but I might be able to make them look quite good.

I agree that they probably won't make great bonsai, but they are very interesting trees. One of the ones I've been continuously pruning back looks very cool at the moment! Like a little tropical palm or something. I can't wait to see what the big ones look like if I can chop them down nice and low and get some good back budding! I find that every time I repot I expose some of the bulbous root system, which just makes the base of the trunk look fatter and fatter each time.

Thanks for your help!
 

Attila Soos

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I find that every time I repot I expose some of the bulbous root system, which just makes the base of the trunk look fatter and fatter each time.

Thanks for your help!

Yes, the massive root base is one of the main attractions. You are right, the species creates a tropical feel, so it is an "exotic" subject for us in the Northern hemisphere, that's what I like about it.
Just remember that in the cold season, they enter into a semi-dormant state, so that is not a good time to prune them.
 
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