Frugal beginnings

Eckhoffw

Yamadori
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Hello all!
Well it’s nearing the end of August and I what will be my first season of acquiring material to kill/practice on.
So I guess this is just another bonsai or pre-bonsai- on the cheap posting.
As a newbie a was very excited and willing to let the bargain rack at the box stores decipher what the material should be!

I just wanted to share with fellow beginners what I found available for under 4$ A piece.
Lowe’s seems to be the best out of the big stores. At least here in Minnesota.

I know many of these plants are not especially great for bonsai per se. but, it did the trick for wetting my appetite for destruction and trying to create something nevertheless.
Practice is practice right?

Thanks for looking any advice or tips are welcome!
Also, Anyone know a good source to acquire affordable Japanese maples?
Thanks
 

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DayDrunk

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I have more JM seedlings in my grow bed than I know what to do with. Most are 1-2 yrs old with trunks less than pencil width thick and around 8" tall, not much to look at now but I'd be happy to send you one if you want to grow one from scratch.
 

Eckhoffw

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Hey daydrunk, I would be very excited to take a JM seedling off your hands.
I could send u some shipping $.
 

PABonsai

Shohin
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Hello all!
Well it’s nearing the end of August and I what will be my first season of acquiring material to kill/practice on.
So I guess this is just another bonsai or pre-bonsai- on the cheap posting.
As a newbie a was very excited and willing to let the bargain rack at the box stores decipher what the material should be!

I just wanted to share with fellow beginners what I found available for under 4$ A piece.
Lowe’s seems to be the best out of the big stores. At least here in Minnesota.

I know many of these plants are not especially great for bonsai per se. but, it did the trick for wetting my appetite for destruction and trying to create something nevertheless.
Practice is practice right?

Thanks for looking any advice or tips are welcome!
Also, Anyone know a good source to acquire affordable Japanese maples?
Thanks
I like checking local garden centers for JM. If you find one that's not fantastic or one that's smaller they're usually under $30 (at least around here in PA). I figure, we aren't growing them to be 30' tall, so we can nurse them back to health and have good base material to work with while others would just walk on by. I was at local garden center a couple weeks ago and all theirs trees and shrubs were 20% off so I grabbed a Bonfire. I think I may air layer off the ugly root graft and I think I may take off the main branch to try fattening it up. I'm actually collecting seeds this fall if you'd like me to send you some. Heck I'd just toss them in an envelope and throw a stamp on them. They weigh next to nothing.
 
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M. Frary

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Anyone know a good sourc
If I were you I would look into an Amur maple.
Trying to keep an out of your zone Japanese Maple alive during a zone 4 winter will be tough.
I know,I've been there.
Unless you have some space not outside but still gets down to around just below freezing and can stay there until the tree can safely go outside in the spring.
 

Eckhoffw

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Ok yeah,
I will look into the Amur maple.
I wonder how available there are. Seems they are a bit of a concern here in Minnesota and are a regulated plant due to their invasive tendencies? However, I suppose many readily available plants are invasive. I’ll check into it further though.
Thanks!
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Ok yeah,
I will look into the Amur maple.
I wonder how available there are. Seems they are a bit of a concern here in Minnesota and are a regulated plant due to their invasive tendencies? However, I suppose many readily available plants are invasive. I’ll check into it further though.
Thanks!
Amur Maple - Acer ginnala and Siberian elm - Ulmus pumila, both are classed as invasive species in most, if not all of the USA & Canada. The best thing to do is find them in the landscape, and collect them. Thus removing them from the ecosystem, and you don't have to fell guilty if you kill them. Acer ginnala (amur maple) is not the worst of invasives, some nurseries may still sell them. They have a nice autumn color, the most often cultivated form has red & yellow autumn color, the less domesticated forms have a nice clear yellow.

Amur maple tends to be pretty angular in its branch pattern, it doesn't make smooth arching curves, unless you put a lot of effort into creating smooth curves. Best to design to use the angular features of Amur maple. Amur tend to have short, then long internodes, the internode length can be irregular, another feature to be aware of, but easy enough to work around.

In zone 5, and even zone 4b, Amur is hardy enough to simply just set the pot on the ground, with no other added protection and it will pull through the winter without loosing a twig. Incredibly winter hardy. If you are in zone 4a or 3b you would need to perhaps shelter it from dry winter wind, and winter sun, but otherwise they are very hardy. Similar hardiness applies for Siberian elm.

Siberian elm is an excellent elm for bonsai - with one caveat. You MUST keep them in full sun, sunrise to sunset full sun. If they are partially shaded, they have the bad habit of dropping branches on the shady side of the tree. Leaves are naturally small, and reduce nicely as bonsai. Wonderful rough bark. Really a great elm for bonsai.

American elm, Ulmus americana, and rock elm, Ulmus thomasii are both native to Minnesota, are very hardy and make good bonsai. Both are more shade tolerant than Siberian elm. In cultivation, they will be small enough so that beetle that spreads the ''Dutch Elm Disease" will not find them. In a container, or bonsai pot, it is possible to treat and clear up Dutch elm disease. They can be used in the same way Chinese elms are used, but significantly more winter hardy. Autumn colors tend to be just a clear yellow.

Carpinus caroliniana - American hornbeam - is a native to Minnesota, it is somewhat like a beach in appearance, but much easier to grow, needs a certain amount of shade, not good for all day full sun. Lovely autumn colors with oranges predominating.

American larch, Larix laricina, and European larch, Larix decidua, are both good for Minnesota. The Japanese larch may be at its cold tolerance limit in Minnesota. Great for bonsai.

Spruce - there are a number of good spruces that make excellent bonsai, the native Picea glauca - white spruce, and the near native Black Hills spruce - Picea glauca densata, are great candidates for winter hardy Minnesota bonsai. The dwarf Alberta Spruce is a mutant variation of Picea glauca, and is just okay for bonsai - it has some quirks that one needs to learn how to handle, go for the wild type, or reforestation type of white spruce that is just labeled Picea glauca, and you will have a better bonsai with less effort.

Black spruce - if you can collect naturally stunted ones from the cranberry bogs and norther muskeg. these are fantastic for bonsai. They prefer an acidic soil and definitely need a cold winter to thrive.

American White Cedar - Thuja occidentalis - is fantastic as bonsai. Not really a beginner tree, but may as well start learning now. Super winter hardy, and very similar to a Hinoki. Native throughout all of Minnesota. Also known as Arborvitae. Nursery material is okay, but will lack character, collecting old stunted specimens that have been repeatedly chewed by deer will give you a tree with amazing character.

Hope these give you some ideas.

Scotts pine from the nurseries make good bonsai too.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Another Minnesota tree you need to look for is Jack pine. Pinus banksiana. It is the most cold tolerant of any pine in North America. I have been following Vance Wood's calendar for schedule of work on Mugo pines, using it with Jack pine, and so far so good. If you can collect one, great. If you find them in a nursery, they are worth a try.

Mugo pines, are great for bonsai. They take time, but work well. They are not native, and not invasive, so you can guilt free use them for bonsai. The ultimate reference for handling mugo in the midwest is in the link below.

 

choppychoppy

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I have more JM seedlings in my grow bed than I know what to do with. Most are 1-2 yrs old with trunks less than pencil width thick and around 8" tall, not much to look at now but I'd be happy to send you one if you want to grow one from scratch.
got 100 of em? id buy em all
 
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Siberian elm is an excellent elm for bonsai - with one caveat. You MUST keep them in full sun, sunrise to sunset full sun. If they are partially shaded, they have the bad habit of dropping branches on the shady side of the tree. Leaves are naturally small, and reduce nicely as bonsai. Wonderful rough bark. Really a great elm for bonsai.
Is this true once they get very ramified as well? I'm just usually told to steer clear of them because of the branch drop issue.

More specifically, too ramified = shading itself too much and dropping branches?
 

Joe Dupre'

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Keep checking those big box stores. Check the bargain bin at the local nurseries , too. I just recently bought a blue rug juniper on the clearance rack in a decent sized nursery. Most of the ones there had so-so 3/4" - 1" trunks. I weeded through a bunch of those and found one with a 2" + trunk. Price---- $7.99!

You've got a good start on material. Water them and feed the heck out of them, and you will have some really nice specimens in 2-3 years. One underated hint: If your tree has a pretty small trunk, cutting it down to a height/diameter ratio of 6 to 1 or 8 to 1 will make it smaller but much more powerful and impressive.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Is this true once they get very ramified as well? I'm just usually told to steer clear of them because of the branch drop issue.

More specifically, too ramified = shading itself too much and dropping branches?
I've only worked with Siberian elm about 5 years. I had heard similar, but I don't think the issue is ramification, the issue is getting shaded out. Keeping the tree in full sun will go a long way to keeping branches. Arranging branches so one does not shade another will help. I think most reports of them dropping branches come from people who keep them under shade cloth, or close to a building where one side of the tree does not get full sun. They really like full sun. In my blueberry fields, if an elm seedling sprouts in and or under the blueberries, partly shaded, it always turns out to be a slippery elm, U. rubra, if it sprouts in the open field, bare sand or wispy grass at most as shade, it is always Ulmus pumila, Siberian elm. They seem very specific about needing sun.
 

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