Cinnamomum camphora?

GerhardG

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Hi All

I've googled with no results, has anybody seen a good camphor tree bonsai?

Few months ago I bought a camphor tree at a nursery close-out.

It had a kink in the trunk about 2" above the roots like the grow tip broke off when it was very young and a branch kept going.
I bought it because it was very cheap and I can't resist green bark. I've since seen mature trees and I know that doesn't persist, but the big trees are impressive.
Anyway, I figured it could work if it back bud right at the kink, which it did after I started chopping back branches at the top.
I gave this new leader some time to grow, and then decided against all reason to get it out of the nursery bag.
It was a rootbound mess, I was forced to literally rip out handfulls of roots and ended up with a very nice spread of the uppermost roots.

I didn't expect it to survive, but it did and actually grew very well in the new soil.

They way I summed up this tree I was planning on using the classic chop and regrow to develop the trunk and induce taper, it was a good start....

Unfortunately I had to move, space for bonsai was limited so for the 2nd time in 2 years I had to decide which trees I had to keep, and the camphor missed the cut.

I now regret that decission and I want to get another tree and start again.

But first I want to know if it's not maybe a huge waste of time......

It's a beautiful tree, seems to not mind root work and it back buds.....

Opinions please

Thank
Gerhard
 

Attila Soos

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I have been growing them from seed, started about 15 years ago. I've grown them in the ground for many years, to fatten them up. By now they have a decent trunk and the bark is starting to age, and they are in training pots.

They are extremely easy to grow, almost indestructible when grown in a warm climate, they can take shade as well as full sun, they back-bud anywhere, and you can chop the roots as much as you want.
They also develop great nebari, because the roots are so easy to prune.

The drawback is that the branches are somewhat prone to die-back (on rare occasions), so you need to remove the sucker growth, and the internodes are hard to miniaturize (but constant pinching can do the job, if not neglected).

Overall, it is an easy to moderately difficult bonsai subject. Horticulturally, it is very easy. Stylistically, it is moderately difficult.
 
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GerhardG

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Hi

Thanks everybody, funny how there's so much contradictory info regarding working with the roots.

Attila,

Thanks, that's exactly what I needed to know. I'll be visiting the nursery soon!
......and now I'n really sorry I gave away that 1st tree....
I would appreciate it if you could post a photo of one of your bigger trees.

Thanks
Gerhard
 

Attila Soos

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Hi

Thanks everybody, funny how there's so much contradictory info regarding working with the roots.

Attila,

Thanks, that's exactly what I needed to know. I'll be visiting the nursery soon!
......and now I'n really sorry I gave away that 1st tree....
I would appreciate it if you could post a photo of one of your bigger trees.

Thanks
Gerhard

Ok, give me a few days, I will post something this weekend.
 

GerhardG

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Thanks Attila, no hurry.

I'm not willing to register on the AUS website just to see the pictures, too many years on the www - I evaluate websites and register only on the best ones for a specific field.

Cheers
Gerhard
 

GerhardG

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Hi

I bought a new camphor tree, slightly bigger (about 2" at max base flare), still very young but the roots look like they will be a challenge.
There were better looking trees (trunk-wise), but all of them had serious root issues I didn't want to face.
I'm more and more sorry about the one I gave away, by accident of neglect (and luck on my part) it had much better roots to start with.

I also bought a few Liquidambar styraciflua for really cheap, I want to try a forrest planting. I know they are less than ideal, but I'm thinking they should at the least bring some nice colour and I'm looking at it as 100% learning excercise.

Happy new year all!

Cheers
Gerhard
 

Attila Soos

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Here is one of my Cinnamonum camphora.

The nebari is about 5 inch wide, the tree is about 20 inches tall. I grew it from seed, took about 14 years. The bark already looks old, which is a great asset for this species.
Since I've spent most of this time growing the trunk, the branches are still too young, and the ramification is very basic. It will take another 2-3 years to get some nice ramification.
Also, I've spent very little time on leaf-size reduction, so the leaves are rather large. The tree is not yet in a bonsai pot.
 

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Attila Soos

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Here is another one.

In this case, I didn't find the original trunk very interesting, but the lowest branch seemed to lend itself to form the new trunk. In the future, I wlll shorten the old trunk and carve it into an old, half-rotten, hollow stub. The new leader will have to be significantly thicker.

The great assets in this material are the mature bark and the nice nebari. The nebari right now is somewhat buried, to keep the surface roots moist.

This was also grown from seed, about 14 years ago, it is 4.5 inches wide at the base, and 16 inches tall.

As in the case of the previous tree, I was working on growing the massive trunk and nebari so far, so the branches and the ramification is very rudimentary. I will spend the next few years on growing thicker and more ramified branches. Also, I will let the top of the leader grow out totally unhindered, to thicken the new trunk line.

I have 3 more trees grown from the same batch of seeds. Just to put the whole process in perspective, I had about 20 trees growing from seed for the first 7 years. Later, I kept the 10 best, and threw away 10. A few years later, I threw away another 5 and ended up with the current collection of 5. Basically, a 25% retention from the original 20. During the first few years, I had little idea about how to grow bonsai stock in the ground. So, I made a lot of mistakes, and learned from them.
 

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GerhardG

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Hi Attila

Thanks so much for the photos and additional info.
If only I'd started when I was 20!:D

I can't shake the image of the huge examples of this species I saw in Cape Town, they were some of the larger trees I've seen in my life - I can't help using that image as an aim for my tree.

Your trees are both an inspiration and a wake-up call.

I've chopped mine and it's back-budding like crazy, here's to the next 10 years!:)

Cheers
Gerhard
 

Attila Soos

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I can't shake the image of the huge examples of this species I saw in Cape Town, they were some of the larger trees I've seen in my life - I can't help using that image as an aim for my tree.

The street where I've bought my first house here in Los Angeles, is lined with huge Camphor trees as well. It is a popular street tree in this city. Many of them have multiple trunks, starting a few feet from the ground (sort of like a clump, but starting higher), others are single-trunked.

I think that the fastest way to grow these trees is to make one or two cuts per year, and then let them grow wild. Too much pinching and clipping slows them down considerably, so I do that only when the trees are ready for final styling.
 
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daygan

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Here's a picture of a Cinnamomum camphora growing freely in southern China - may be helpful as a styling guide.
attachment.php
 

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daygan

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Attila, I'm curious - have you been successful in reducing internode length and/or leaf size at this point?
 

Attila Soos

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Attila, I'm curious - have you been successful in reducing internode length and/or leaf size at this point?
.

Hi daygan,
This season, and probably the next one, I am still letting the primary branches to grow long and get thicker, on the 4 or 5 trees that I have. This means that the internodes and leaves will have no chance to reduce. Right now, most of the primary branches are too thin, which doesn't help creating the aged look.

As soon as I have the desired thickness on these branches, I will start cutting them back and creating the fine ramification, while also planting the trees in a bonsai pot. That will be the time to work on reducing the leaves and internodes. So, until then, I do NOT want to see any reduction, since I want the fastest growth possible.
 

daygan

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got it. Thanks for answering. I'll be interested in seeing your results when you do get to that stage. My own camphors will be getting to reduction stage a few years after yours, unless I collect a larger, more mature camphor sometime soon.
 

lieuz

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I'm definitely late on this, I don't really have anything to contribute in terms of bonsai related information. However, there are two beautiful camphor trees in front of the main meiji jingu shrine.


0meiji_shrine.jpg
 
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