Budding on a Privet

clic8991

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I have 20+ Chinese Privets (Ligustrum sinense) in some kind of training that range from 5-30yrs old. I am using them to teach myself the basics of bonsai design (ramification, balance, carving, growing, etc. ) as I gather more diverse material. Here is my favorite one. (I suppose I am proud of it) It is actually the first tree I put into a bonsai pot, though its quality may be above my skill level. I dug it and cut it back 2 months ago expecting major backbudding on both major trunks. However, the lower trunk (circled in red) has not given many shoots. Usually I have the tree tipped to expose the underside of the lower part of the trunk to maximum sunlight. I need this portion of the tree to bud. Any suggestions?

Should/Can I:
Approach graft (I have several hundred seedlings)?
Threadgraft?
Wound the area?
Just wait?

Here is the general idea for the design,though it is not very inspired,I plan on getting better at design and sketching by the time it is done. I imagine the growth pattern of privet may prevent smooth unions at the chops but we will see how it goes. Feel free to give any suggestions, warnings or tips. Thanks.

Colin
 

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Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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Visually, you made a good trunk like and base from this material, well done!

Problem is that privet and other fast-growing trees tend to have punky wood that rots easily. The branch you want to grow is surrounded on both sides by dead/rotting wood, so it's probably a goner.

The roots under it looked ok in the first series of shots. Hopefully this is how they were covered with soil and not worked further. Look at the underside of the branch and follow it to the trunk and see if it has good living tissue (seen easiest when it's wet; look at the dead wood, rotting wood and anything that contrasts with it should be alive) all the way down to the roots. If you see good green bark all the way down to the roots, you have a shot.

Some people selectively foliar spray with fertilizers only on places that they want growth. You could also prune everything else back pretty hard, which can often cause back-budding, but I wouldn't advise that in the first year in a pot...maybe next year if the branch is still clearly alive but still not budding.

Best of luck!
 

Tachigi

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Good piece of material. Its a privet and will pop buds all over needing little motivation to do so. Best thing to do right now is leave it alone for at least two growing seasons. Remove any growth from areas that you don't want growth on and feed the tree heavily to promote new growth. When buds appear in areas that you don't want them in rub them out with your thumb. Eventually you'll get buds directly where you want them.
 

misfit11

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It is actually the first tree I put into a bonsai pot...

Wow! Not bad for a first tree! My first tree was truly a stick-in-a-pot.:D Nicely done and good luck with it. Looks like you've got it in some decent soil, too, which is atypical of a beginner.
 

clic8991

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Thanks for the replies. We had a rain this morning and the lower trunk is still nice and green, so I guess I will just wait and be patient. While I assume it depends on the species, does anyone know the biology/or ecology behind back budding? Why can a pitch pine back bud with no green above the cut but a black pine cannot? How long will a species which can back bud from a complete trunk chop maintain a trunk that is not being productive (Energy Positive)? I assume it has to do with energy allocation and growth strategies. I know there aren't necessarily specific answers to this, I am questioning this generally in a bonsai context?

Thanks
Colin
 

clic8991

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Answering some of my own questions:

Pitch Pine (From Wikipedia):
The species is unusual in often having shoots (called epicormic sprouts) that can grow directly from the trunk. This is an adaptation to fire, enabling trees to re-sprout after fire has killed the crown; the thick bark protects the trunk from damage unless the fire is very severe. Burnt trees often form stunted, twisted trees with multiple trunks as a result of the resprouting. This characteristic also makes it a popular species for bonsai.

Epicormic shoot (From Wikipedia):
An epicormic shoot is a shoot growing from an epicormic bud from underneath the bark of a stem or branch of a plant. Epicormic buds lie dormant beneath the bark, their growth suppressed by hormones from active shoots higher up the plant. Under certain conditions they develop into active shoots, such as when damage occurs to higher parts of the plant, or light levels are increased following removal of nearby plants. Epicormic shoots occur in many woody species, but are absent from many others, such as most conifers.
 
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