Really love the angle change as well...It's always neat to see suggestions given by another that we chew on...and see their vision as one our own mind can grasp. And takes it to another level. I have a few like that...and I think fondly of those who offered up the suggestions and how they helped me develop my trees in the direction they are taking.
Though...in all honesty...This one has ALWAYS been one of my favorites.
It's been some time since I posted anything about this tree. The reason is the Ume had outgrown its Bigei pot. The Ume itself wasn't growing at all. I did an emergency repot in May or June of 2015. Consequently, I had a very poor flowering season last year. This spring and summer brought new life to my tree. The Ume was going along well and suddenly, last May, a tremendous hail storm completely stripped the leaves off the tree. I thought the tree was finished. Then, much to my surprise, my tree exploded with twice as many leaves as it had before, all smaller, and a torrent of new shoots followed. This activity is not a guarantee of good flowers this winter, but it is promising. Check the ramification on this beauty!
Also, notice the new green shoots on the dark branches. I really enjoy looking at this mix of color, and I hope you do, too.
Ok, I just went back and reviewed the entire thread.
And maybe I can explain the process I use on my Ume a little better:
It's an annual cycle. Ume only bloom on the current year's growth. Not on spurs like apples. So, to get a lot of flowers, you have to let the new shoots grow.
Problem is, doing so let's the tree get leggy!
So, here's the solution I use with mine:
After the tree blooms, I cut back hard. To vegitative buds close to the base of the branches.
In spring, I let the tree grow out. No pinching. In late spring, mid - to - late May, they've grown almost two feet long! I cut back the strong shoots to about half their length. Then I pull off the first two leaves of each branch. This prevents flowers from forming. Flowers will only form at the base of leaves.
Preventing flowers at those two locations will assure I have good vegitative buds to cut back to next year after flowering.
Now that the shoots are shorter, and the leaves are pulled, I wire with aluminum. The first 6 to 8 inches of each branch to get movement. Ume, as you know wants to grow straight up and straight! You have to wire and bend when the shoots are still somewhat soft. You can't do much, they're real "snappy"!
The wire will start to cut in within 6 weeks. Remove it.
Over the summer and fall, the leaves will start to look worse and worse. They should curl. Curling leaves is a sign it's forming flower buds. Leave those on for as long as you can stand it! Mid fall, when they start to fall off, or they pull off really easily, remove them. You should see the little round flower buds at the base of where the leaves were.
At this time, you can reduce the stems some more if you like. Of course, you'll know you're cutting off flowers, but you can get it into the shape (profile) you want.
Then, enjoy the flowers over the winter!
After the flower show, cut back to the first two buds where you removed the leaves the previous May. Yes, this means you remove 95% of the branches you wired!
When it buds out with new growth, it should come from the two vegitative buds, and the cycle begins anew.
Ramification builds over the years. It should double each year.
Interesting @fredtruck. It therefore seems that just defoliating in May (about halfway between the equinox and the summer solstice?) will do nice things for your ume (as opposed to more 'standard' techniques).
Well, I don't know that I'd go that far. It did work last spring but accident played a large role. I want to see this spring's leaves, and see how big they are. There were a lot of weather factors in operation last spring. It was much warmer than usual, and the winter was much warmer than usual. Additionally, the ume spends all winter in my 40-degree garage, so it leafs out earlier than it would otherwise. There are too many factors operating to make a rule out of my experience. 1st step will be to see this spring's leaves.
Adair-->>Fred, I have a question: did the leaves curl up and fall off already? Does it normally drop its leaves this early?
Good question. I checked some earlier pictures. I have one taken in August, of 2012, and the leaves are starting curl. I would say it drops it leaves earlier than many might because of my garage storage. It's about 40 degrees in there all winter, so it leafs out towards the end of March, long before any natural trees here leaf out. I have other pictures in mid-October, about 3 weeks from now, where the leaves are gone. To be fair,the leaves didn't drop. I defoliated the ume, which I do every year about this time. But the leaves were pretty well gone. Curled up and many were dry.
Also, this tree is a Contorta. You don't have to wire contortas because they go all wiggly naturally. Occasionally, my ume will throw a straight branch. Those, I remove.
I use a different method to encourage flowers than the one you describe.
First, I have my ume in the smallest pot possible. When you do this, two things happen. The first and most obvious is that the surface roots get huge. This is not my discovery. I got it from Peter Adams' book "The Art of Flowering Bonsai."
The second, and less obvious thing that happens is that eventually, growth slows until finally, as I mentioned above, it stops growing altogether. I think my tree grew almost not at all for 5 years before I had to go to a larger container. All the time flowering increased year by year. I didn't prune at all during this time. The ultra-small container was doing the work.
As for pruning, after the ume has its shape set, I prune for maintaining shape June 21st or thereabouts. I don't prune again until after the last flower is gone. Usually I prune and repot at the same time, which is usually around the end of February. I get 3 or so waves of flowers a year, beginning in December and going through February. One year I remember the tree bloomed almost to April. The Ume has bloomed as early as December 7, which I remember because of Pearl Harbor.
To define the shape, I let all shoots go and then cut them back to 3 or 5 buds. Using this method, the tree will define its own shape.
If you want pictures of the early stages of my Ume, please get a copy of International Bonsai, 2012/NO. 1. Beginning on p.26 is an article I wrote describing the early development of this tree.
Do you think that the triple flowering is part of the type of ume that yours is Fred? Interesting that the two methods outlined by you and Adair are so different, but work well for both of you. I have two, maybe I'll try one on each...
I will be really interested to see how this flowers for you after your accidental defoliation. I've never defoliated either of mine, but always wondered if it would be possible.