Cutting roots on inground trees?

digger714

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I am growing trees in ground to use for future bonsai. I am planning on them being in ground for 5 years or more. If i want to cut the surface roots with a shovel to start getting more root growth closer to the trunk, what would be the time of year to do it? I am mainly thinking about D trees. Maples, hornbeam, Elms. Also, at what point would you start thinking about doing it, every year, or every other year, after they are established? Would it be different for azaleas, or any type of flowering, or fruiting tree?
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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I try to arrange the roots so they're radial when I put a tree in the ground and then disturb them as little as possible while I'm growing the trunks. Each time you dig it up, you can pretty much count on little to no trunk thickening that season; so work the roots if you do dig it up, as it will pay dividends in the long run.

BUT...as you're getting close (2-3 years out), you could, as you asked, trench around the base of the tree about 8" out to start creating a more contained system. That shouldn't slow things down noticeably. The best time to do this is just as the buds are starting to push...you want all that energy to be up in the tree before you start severing roots.
 

bonsai barry

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I grow a lot of trees in the ground and I trench their roots in the Spring and in the Fall. Today I dug up a pyracantha (you can do this in California). The roots looked great. Some of the newer ones were a bit fragile, I would have probably been better off waiting a couple of months to dig it up, but I needed the space.
 
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garywood

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Brad, the hardest thing to gain an appreciation for, in growing trees for bonsai or throwing bowls in pottery or doing anything with a certain methodology. Where a certain tangible result is wanted and is repeatable and understood, Without training, no-one can, in the beginning without mistakes. The Internet is a great place to get advice, lots of advice. unfortunately much of it differs and you ultimately have to choose one piece of info to go with. This may or may not be good or bad or indifferent. Only you and time will be able to tell the difference. My advice is to envision a finished trunk shape and size you want and grow that tree. If you don't have a preconceived vision you will be wasting a lot of time in development through useless technique. Prioritize everything, every bud twig root leaf to work toward your vision. That was a mouthful but without growing and cutting experience it's difficult to grasp some of the nuances in working with different species and even growing different size trees within species. Use this year as a lab, document everything you do to see cause and effect. Stay thirsty my friend :)
Wood
http://thingsofwood-gary.blogspot.com/
 

digger714

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Thanks Wood. That all makes perfect sense. I have decided on a couple trees where i want to go with them. One of my tridents is 3" at the base before it starts to flare, so i think it will be ready for what i have in mind in a year or two. I have already started working some branches for possible final branches, and have lots of sacrificial branches also. When i plant, i spread the roots out, as much as possible, and plant on a tile or board. I guess i am mainly thinking about the nebari, getting the crown and roots to start fusing more, and i thought since i had the time, and it was so accessible, i could start some root work, but thought actually taking the tree out of the ground wouldnt be so good, so thought i would try this method. I have another one thats not as big, but a good size that had alot of radial roots, and i thought i would just leave it. I have a notebook with one page per tree that i write in everytime to document everything i do, and to measure the rates of growth, so it will be interesting to see which works better. I agree about the different techniques, probably most everyone is different in some things, so i take it all in and use my best judgement for what to do, or possibly the judgement of someone i know has been doing many trees.

Ive been reading all of Brents articles, and blogs, and it has really opened my eyes in the past month. Thanks for sending me your blog info. I know what ill be doing for a while. Thanks again. I love this (hobby). It kinda sounds weird even calling it a hobby, its a huge part of my life.
 
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digger714

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Would it be a different time for azaleas? I have a couple really nice landscape azaleas that have been growing for 20 years that i would like to take out in a couple years also. 3 are satsuki, and 4 are indica
 

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