Developing Informal Upright Trunks for Deciduous Bonsai


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Nipomo, CA

Few questions about the pictures in this article. I would think that the new apex "A" is not thick enough to cut back. I might wait another year or more before cutting it back? Also the taper looks okay, but to make a really nice looking tree woulden't you want to chop this guy even lower than in the illustration.

Note: I'm a huge newb and want to learn how to grow amazing material. Also I understand this web article was probably just desined to teach newb's like me the basics.

what do you think ?


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Gulf Coast
Your ideas about chopping are on track. The drawings are just to give the basic technique. There is no precise way of creating a bonsai because it is living and an element of uncertainty will always exist. Rather than looking at the pictures in that article, refer more to the literature. The author explains the proportions that lead to an aesthetically pleasing design. Height of the tree is 6 times the size(diameter) of the base. If you are growing in the ground your base will obviously expand as the tree develops, so consider that when estimating your final tree height. Use your desired final height to determine where chops and branches should be located. One-third of your final (estimated) height is where you should make your first chop. For the second chop, the article states to cut at 2/3 the final height. I would recommend a little below that 2/3 mark. As for the thickness of the leaders, its really all about judgement and time. If time is not an issue then certainly let the leader grow thicker than the example drawing.
Dont forget its your tree. Use the article as a guide, not as a rulebook.
Add movement to leaders and branches. Chop n grow in the ground if you can. Best to get roots in order before letting the tree grow freely. Fertilize well. Good luck.


Spuds Moyogi
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Fairfax Va.
The article gives only approximate info on chopping. Timing on successive trunk chops is extremely subjective--depends on the artist's goals, the species of tree, where it's being grown, etc.

To get the best idea of this technique, it helps tremendously to see it in person. You don't list a location, but I'd find a reputable bonsai retailer, or club to visit. Look at their trees. Ask about trunks and how their trees have been constructed. It can be an eye opener once you see the tell-tale marks--they're on most bonsai, even the big deal, imposing Japanese trees. Some are better disguised than others.
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