Field Grown Chinese Elm

digger714

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This is a chinese elm that was dug up in November 09, and been recovering since. I was told it is just a plain chinese elm. I am going to chop back next spring, and was wanting to get some input on the procedure for doing it. I am thinking that the large limb needs to come off, and the smaller one used for the new main leader, and a new apex completely started. The large limb has lots of character, but i think is just too big for any taper. Would it be better to do the cut at the end of winter, before spring, or this fall? Am i right in thinking the small branch should be the new trunk? The nebari is covered now to get them more developed. IT has a pretty good set of roots, so i am excited. Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

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Brent

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I would choose the trunkline going through the largest stem in photo #1. It has good movement and taper and the girth and taper could be increased even more after chopping it back and by keeping the upright stem as a sacrifice branch (leader) for a couple more years. The smallest branch has included bark and if you cut off the main trunk, it is going to dieback all the way to the line of the collar and included bark.Thus, you will have wasted a good part of the tree. I would remove the smallest branch now as it appears to be creating reverse taper.

As an aside, I'm not sure this is a Chinese elm, the bark does not look right. Perhaps it is a Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
 

digger714

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Should i leave a nub, or cut flush with the trunk when cutting off the smallest branch at the bottom? Also, your saying to cut the largest branch back to my finished height, and just keep the smaller current leader growing as sacrifice? Use the same container? When would be the best time to do it, this fall or next spring? Or now? Then when i cut back, should i start choosing any final branches i want to use? I was told by the guy i got it from that it was just a plain chinese elm. Thanks alot for the input Brent. I purchased about 20 trees from you last year, and they are all doing great.

What about air layering the smaller branch off? I guess it would send more energy to the layer, and make the taper worse? When its time to cut the sac. off, would that be something to air layer? Thanks again
 
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Brent

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Should i leave a nub, or cut flush with the trunk when cutting off the smallest branch at the bottom?

It's pretty small, just make it flush and a bit concave.

Also, your saying to cut the largest branch back to my finished height,

Leave a couple inches for insurance, let several leaders grow, then choose one for the new leader and finish the cut.

and just keep the smaller current leader growing as sacrifice?

Yes.

Use the same container?

Put it in whatever will give you nice vigorous growth, especially if you keep the sacrifice.

When would be the best time to do it, this fall or next spring? Or now?

It's just a little late to be doing it now. Late winter or after the foliage hardens in the spring, around the end of May.

Then when i cut back, should i start choosing any final branches i want to use?

You need a new leader and time for taper transition. You can start branches from the resultant bud break after chopping. With elms, getting branches is never a problem.

What about air layering the smaller branch off?

Would it be worth the effort? Surely not.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
 

digger714

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Thanks again Brent for the info. Its great to have people like you with your knowledge to help us beginners, and addicts, lol. I really do appreciate your time.
 

digger714

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Since it was just put into this container last year, will it be ok to do the upper work next year, and wait until the next spring to repot, or should i repot this coming year, and do the top work the next year? It had a good bit of space in the container when it was put in.

When growing sacrificial branches on elms, do you leave all smaller branches, and foliage, or just leave the leader of the branch and remove everything else? If so, would it help to make the sacrificial branch as productive as it can be now? I removed the smaller branch and sealed with cut paste.

When you talk about new branches from bud break at chop time, are you saying the new buds would make branches of good ratio by the time the leader transition is complete? If so, should other branches be taken off periodically because they would be too large when apex is complete?

Thanks again
 
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Brent

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Digger

You need to start analyzing the situation yourself rather than depending on me for every answer. That is how you learn and grow in bonsai. The answer to every one of those questions above is IMPLICIT in what I have said previously. You just need to think about them carefully. I hate cookbook bonsai, it should instead be about problem solving. That's the fun of it!

Brent
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digger714

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I am just trying to get your words straight in my mind, and kind of translate into my words, or way of thinking. Without being able to see what you were saying, its kind of tough for me to get, and was just trying to make sure i had it correct. I do appreciate you giving me the direction, and i am all about trying it and learning it. I think its like you said in another thread. We need to forget most of the things we have learned because they were meant for trees that are through "bulking up" and ready for refinement, because there is so much conflicting advice. I study my trees for at least an hour a day, and alot at night also, just trying to see how they grow, and what different techniques do to the trees. Your advice is priceless to me, and i do appreciate you taking the time to help me out.
 
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rockm

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You're making it too complicated and overthinking things. Bottom line I-more growth=-more bulk. Removing growth slows bulk. Simple as that. More growth on a sacrifice branch means that branch will get thicker quicker than a branch with less growth on it...

Trying to develop branching and bulk on a deciduous tree at the same time is counterproductive--do the bulk first, cut back later.
 

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