False Cypress Bonsai

ml_work

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I saw some false cypress with about 1.5 inch trunk at Marvin's for $18.00. I read something about they don't back-bud, except on green branches? I would have to cut the top off as it is about 2 1/2 foot tall now. Would this be a good tree for me to learn on?

Thanks,
Michael
 

garywood

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Hi Michal, Chamaecyparis is a fairly large group of trees and it would help if you knew which one. It's almost like asking general questions about pines. You can make general statements but knowing which allows a little more detail.
Wood
 

october

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Hello ml_work..Any tree that cost's $18 is a good tree for you to learn on..and yes, many cypress' will not bud back on old wood.

Rob
 

ml_work

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Thanks for the replies. I will look on the tag and get the name, I know it said False Cypress but sure it had the real name somewhere on there. Here are a couple of pics of them. The one that is dead on top was setting to the side in the "hospital" I ask for a discount on it, manager was off and I was to call back Monday, busy week have not called. It has some new growth starting down lower on the trunk. pic 2 and 3 are the same tree
Thanks,
Michael
 

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mcpesq817

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Looks like a Boulevard Cypress.
 

ml_work

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I think that is what the tag listed, is that good? I will stop by there tomorrow and check
Thanks,
Michael
 

digger714

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Yes, it is a boulevard cypress. They are beautiful trees, and i would think they make pretty good bonsai. THey have awesome trunks, and nice root spreads.
 

mcpesq817

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They are nice trees, but they are difficult to work into bonsai given the fact that they only backbud on green wood. If you're relatively new and/or not working with great material, it's probably better to look at something more amenable to bonsai. I bought one when I first started because I thought it looked cool, but ended up planting it in the yard. It does seem to get dieback, so you constantly have to thin it out or you'll lose all interior sub branches.
 

J W

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I would agree with mcpesq817... I would also suggest that these tree's don't have a good trunk line and have the classic slingshot structure. We all want a great deal even if it means buying something that's half dead.

After you buy 6 or 7 of these bargain's you could of spent your money and more important time on one tree that is worth the effort and will reward you with a tree that people will be happy to talk to you about and work with you. Tree's like the ones your looking seem to be ignored by bonsai people because they have learned that time is the greatest factor in there collection.

I'm not saying this species is not suitable for bonsai. If you find a tree or shrub with a great trunk and nebari you grab it in a hurry and work with it. I just don't see it here with these two tree's.

Don't give up on looking but don't try to make everything work because it's a bargain. That's the learning lesson your looking for. First lesson in bonsai "what tree is worth buying?" read some of Brent's articles at evergreen garden works.

JW
 

ml_work

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Thanks for the Help. I did stop by on Saturday to see what the half dead would be, no one could give me the answer. Glad I did not get it, from your advice it would not be worth the time. I agree with both, mc817 and j w, you make very good point about saving the money and spend on 1 tree that has future. Even though I am still at the $100.00 max range for tree budget. I can see where I was spending $30-$40 per tree, if I wait and get 1 $100.00 tree it has more to offer. I am sure in time when I feel more comfortable with my knowledge of Keeping the tree alive. I will hold off on the $100.00 tree and save to the $200-$300...and so on. Right now I try to focus on learning to wire, cut, style...much easier on my feelings to kill a $17.00 tree. but I will pass on this one,
Thanks,
Michael
 

rockm

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For $18, this tree would be worth it to learn techniques on. The first trees I "bonsaied" were $20 garden Alberta Spruce, bolt upright branching, multiple trunks that started halfway up the main trunk, thin needles, etc.

Those trees taught me how to root prune, "construct" a tree by subtracting as much as possible without killing them, how to lower an upright branch into a lateral position using stubborn material, etc. I just threw them out last weekend after almost 16 years.

Buying $100 trees is great. But if you don't know how to work them, you're going to be damaging perhaps irreparably a $100 tree. I'm all for buying more expensive stock, but sometimes cheap material can teach you a lot for a little...
 

J W

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Rockm I agree with what you said. I learned alot on that material also. But then one day I looked around and I sure had alot of LEARNING material that had no future or that had a couple of years of healing to try to move on to the next step. And I could never sell it at the price needed to earn back the money I spent on it. Definition of a Hobby.

Probally because of my location I can purchase nice material for $50 that I could learn on and actually have a future with that I would take to a class and feel good about getting some help because the instructor would be interested in it. Instead of the side ways glance and them saying "put this in the ground or sell it at the next show!!!" Hahaa I'm glad I never took that personal like some people do.

I do find myself buying in the $500 to $800 of learning material and "saving up for the next tree" a little more often. But the good news is if I can sell off 20 of my learner tree's I will have $400 to $600 and alot less watering and more shelf space. Okay, Okay, I'll take $300. Plus the Amazing attention of my wife saying I'm glad you don't have as many tree's as you did...

Michael I would suggest one thing BUY HEALTHY!!! You will learn how to heal them after you find out how often you damage them...

Good luck and enjoy yourself.

JW
 

Attila Soos

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Thanks for the Help. I did stop by on Saturday to see what the half dead would be, no one could give me the answer. Glad I did not get it, from your advice it would not be worth the time. I agree with both, mc817 and j w, you make very good point about saving the money and spend on 1 tree that has future. Even though I am still at the $100.00 max range for tree budget. I can see where I was spending $30-$40 per tree, if I wait and get 1 $100.00 tree it has more to offer. I am sure in time when I feel more comfortable with my knowledge of Keeping the tree alive. I will hold off on the $100.00 tree and save to the $200-$300...and so on. Right now I try to focus on learning to wire, cut, style...much easier on my feelings to kill a $17.00 tree. but I will pass on this one,
Thanks,
Michael
If you want to practice on a $18 tree, buy an elm, maple, or hackbery. Chances are that at the end they survive, and you will make something worthy out of them. I remember from my novice years, buying all these false cypresses and killing them all. The problem is that if you can't keep them in top health, you cannot practice bonsai techniques, since a weak tree doesn't respond to them.
Cypress is a bad choice to practice on, since they require top expertise to train them into bonsai.
 
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rockm

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Chopping up an $18 cypress requires no top skill. It simply requires the understanding that an $18 tree is an $18 tree and the room on the bench to keep it. You may, or may not, find a hackberry, or an elm, with trunk as substantial as this for $18...
 

ml_work

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I am listening to everyones reply and really appreciate the input.

"If you want to practice on a $18 tree, buy an elm, maple, or hackbery" Attila

"Probably because of my location I can purchase nice material for $50 that I could learn on and actually have a future" J W

and Rock, if you keep the Trees 16 years, you must have done something Right!

Probably because of "my" location I have to take what I can get. The Marvin's and wal-mart are the only local resource. I do not know of any bonsai nursery in our state...I have made a couple trips to Brussels over the past couple of years, but that it 5-6 hour drive. So it makes the sling shot juniper look much better than it really is if there is nothing else.
I will keep looking and most likely asking the same questions over, thanks for everyones Patience.
Keep LOOkin Up!
Michael
 
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rockm

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ml,

Two words for ya--Bald Cypress...Easiest tree to grow in your area. forgiving and can be easily collected, or bought at Wal Mart for not much. Trunk chop, put it in a pot with soil (they're not fussy).
 

Attila Soos

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Chopping up an $18 cypress requires no top skill. It simply requires the understanding that an $18 tree is an $18 tree and the room on the bench to keep it. You may, or may not, find a hackberry, or an elm, with trunk as substantial as this for $18...
Chopping is not what I've meant.

Over the years, I noticed that I learn the most from my experience when I can keep my tree strong and healthy, apply bonsai techniques (pruning, wiring, carving, etc), notice how the tree responds, and then try to improve my techniques and re-apply them....until the tree is nearly finished.
But this only works if the same tree is strong and healthy at all times. From the day you bought it at the nursery, until the day you consider it "finished".

The problem with these more-difficult species (more difficult for a beginner, of course), is that the student tries to do too much in a short time, and the tree slowly loses its vigor and health. It responds less and less to bonsai techniques (because the growth slows down), and at the end, even the correctly done techniques don't work anymore. Nothing can be more confusing than this, for a beginner.

This has nothing to do with dollars, $18, or $100, or $5. It is about working with forgiving species, that respond well to bonsai training.

I remember buying a large variety of species in my first years (Cypress, fir, redwood, and others), styled them into "instant bonsai", planted them into bonsai pots, and was tremendously proud of myself, spending ours admiring my masterpieces. I felt like Mr. Myagi, only younger and better-looking. Of course, nothing survived over a couple of years, simply because they couldn't take agressive pruning, constant tampering, and putting them into bonsai pots way too early. Plus, with species that do not backbud from old wood (Hinoki, etc), I had no idea how to creat foliage pads. I just cut them back like an elm or juniper, and the branches slowly died, even on a healty plant. Not the best way to learn bonsai from those.

However, if one has good knowledge of the species, how much damage they can take without losing vigor, how to overcome the backbudding problems, how sensitive the roots are to root-pruning, etc., then it is like a walk in the park.

One has to remember that the biggest cost with a bonsai is not the money that you paid when you purchased the material. It is the time and work spent on them, in the subsequent years. To put all this into monetary terms (so that you can properly put into perspective the importance of the initial price), let's say that you pay $18 on a nursery stock, but the value of the time and work that you put into the tree in the subsequent 5 years is $5,000 (one hour per week, and let's say that you value your work at $20/hr). Not counting any other cost (water, fertilizer, wire, tools).
Why do you even care whether or not you pay $18, or $25, or $1, if this is less than one percent of the total cost that you put into it. So, remember that your time is the biggest cost of all, and it is irreplaceable. It doesn't matter whether you pay $15 or you get it for free, because you will spend the rest of your life working on it...unless of course you are a business, and hope for a quick and profitable turn-around.
 
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Attila Soos

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ml,

Two words for ya--Bald Cypress...Easiest tree to grow in your area. forgiving and can be easily collected, or bought at Wal Mart for not much. Trunk chop, put it in a pot with soil (they're not fussy).
Good choice, I never regretted working with them.
 

ml_work

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I have a few small bald cypress, about 3 yro now. Started out some kind of give away from the conservation office. All were about pencil size, this year they are about double size diameter. Had to cut the height this winter to get them under a bench. Last summer wal mart had some nice 3 in trunk in, of course was waiting on the end of summer to get that "good" close out sale price. They sold them all and never got anymore.
Thanks,
Michael
 
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