Greetings! Just Started Bonzai Yesterday

artao

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Hello all. Apologies about the length. ;)
After thinking about it and reading and reading and almost doing it for MANY many years (even acquired some med. bonsai scissors some time back), I decided to finally try my hand at bonsai, and determined that I would go full yamadori. I read up on local species suitable for bonsai, and was quite surprised at how much variety is available here in the wild -- including the beautiful silver maple right in my front yard :O ........ I have done a fair amount of gardening in the past, so am familiar with plant care.
I live in south-west Wisconsin, quite near the Wisconsin River, in the so-called Driftless Zone. i.e. - an area that the last glaciers skipped, leaving behind the original old hills and what comes with 'em.
As such, there is AN ABUNDANCE of juniperus communis, juniperus horizontalis, juniperus virginianis, and staghorn sumac (some people virtually consider the sumac to be weeds, 'cuz of pollen allergens. And they make TONS of pollen, sometimes in massive yellow clouds). Not to mention the birches and poplars. Plus a ton of sphegnum mosses. And prickly pear cactii.

So yesterday I collected a juniperus viginianis (red cedar), at the local brush-stone-concrete-metal dump near the railroad tracks, which had had the top broken off by a LARGE vehicle of some sort, probably a front loader, leaving it rough and cracked at the break point. The break is pretty dry but still a bit flexible, not torn but has a small split, and faded grey-red in color. There were a couple other broken branches and scars, but rather minor. The root ball is nice and healthy. I had to cut off a tap root that was running horizontally and had dug up to almost 2 feet.
It was found in a very sandy with some clay soil that could be clumped into fragile balls. The soil fell away from the root ball quite easily, and left behind some nice nodules of mycorrhiza (I think). I still have it in that medium, with nothing else, in an unglazed clay pot. I collected it in a burlap bag wrapped in a couple plastic grocery bags, and well watered.
The break is about 8 3/4" high. The base diameter is about 3/4", and at the break it is about 5/16". Its canopy diameter is about 14 3/4" by 15 1/2" oval. The leaves are still juvenile, but some are just starting to scale.
Is there any way to tell how old it might be given this information? I think the naturally broken tip is part of the character of this plant, jin perhaps, and thus won't cut it off to see the rings. My guestimate is that it's maybe 4 to 10 yrs old.

I trimmed off dead and dying leaves and kind of de-cluttered the branches. I'm not 100% on the form I'm seeing it take, but am feeling a slanting windswept look would suit this guy. Perhaps with a rock in some exposed roots. [Current Pic Below]
At this point I just need to let it recover, correct? The pot it's in gives the roots plenty of space to grow but is not too large. I wonder about its soil tho. Like I said, it's in the soil I found it in, which is pretty compact sand with a bit of clay. I figure that that can't really be, you know, BAD for it, considering it's been living in it its whole life .. LOL
Anyhow. At what point can I begin shaping the branches? I messed with the overall shape a little bit today using some fine kite string just kind of looped around the branches and trunk, but couldn't quite get the string to hold the shapes I'm seeing there. So I guess I'll need to wire them then.
Should I change it into a bonsai soil mix? How long should it recover before I start with the shaping of the branches? I'm even considering burying the roots with a rock for maybe 3 to 5 inches to get them to grow over it, then later uncovering that section. Am I going too far there for my first bonsai? I mean ... I'm kinda feeling like the tree is feeling it too.
I mean, I came upon this little guy and took a picture of it, then kept wandering around. Also taking pictures of other potential juniper or birch possibilities. As I continued walking around, I just couldn't stop thinking of this little broken one, so eventually decided there's a reason for that and went back and dug it up and brought it home.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.

I'm already hooked, and intend to go back out and pick up a few more trees: A staghorn sumac or three for multi-display, a juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper), and perhaps a juniperus communsis (common juniper). And perhaps some sphegnum moss.


:: Pics ::
--- As I Found It ---

On Site Juniper Bonsai.png


--- Freshly Brought Home ---
Fresh Juniper Bonsai.png


--- After A Trim ---
Trimmed Juniper Bonsai.png
 

GrimLore

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So yesterday I collected a juniperus viginianis (red cedar)
Tough plant to make a lot out of BUT also a tough plant in the way that it will take that kind of abuse :) If you did this to most any other Juniper it would most likely die and quickly. Not bad though and you can learn a lot about it over a few years.

I can only guess it is about eight years old - nothing there to tell me if it is a 4 inch or 12 inch pot, sorry. Also cover those exposed roots, keep it that way for at least two years - Winter anywhere will take them out where they normally grow and Summer growth will help to grow horizontal roots under there especially if you "flat plant" it over a board or similar.

It would be a great help if you added your basic USDA Zone and location so it shows in your Avatar as does mine, easy peasy in profile :)

Also note to yourself that if you plan on collecting any Fruit especially Apples there that RC will grow a lot and introduce introduce Cedar Rust far more frequently then other Junipers. Either way still a good start, welcome to B-Nut. :)

Grimmy
 

artao

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Thanks! I'm in SW Wisconsin, zone 5a/4b. The pot is 9.5 inches.
I'll cover up those roots then. Thanks. Should I leave it in this soil that I found it in, or put it in a bonsai mix? As to that, can I use the local spegnum moss as the moss component? That makes a certain amount of sense to me.
I won't be collecting any apples, so no worries there. :)
 

Bonsai Nut

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Welcome to the site!!

For reference, the word bonsai is the literal pronunciation of the two Japanese characters: 盆栽.

盆 (pronounced "bone") refers to a low flat tray or container and
栽 (pronounced "sigh") refers to a planting or cultivation

Banzai is a completely different word, and bonzai is nonsensical and is not used in the Japanese language :) I am just teasing because of the spelling error in the title of your thread. Now you now more than half of all bonsai videos on YouTube!
 

artao

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Welcome to the site!!

For reference, the word bonsai is the literal pronunciation of the two Japanese characters: 盆栽.

盆 (pronounced "bone") refers to a low flat tray or container and
栽 (pronounced "sigh") refers to a planting or cultivation

Banzai is a completely different word, and bonzai is nonsensical and is not used in the Japanese language :) I am just teasing because of the spelling error in the title of your thread. Now you now more than half of all bonsai videos on YouTube!
GAH! Yeah. Chalk that up to sloppy thoughtless typing. Sorry bout that. .... .... hmmm ... can't seem to find a way to edit that tho. :\
 

sorce

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Nice....I ain't reading all that! ?

Next time...keep the interior foliage...the stuff close to the trunk..
Thats where you are building branches from...close...compact.

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

artao

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Would it be okay to do some wiring on this guy this summer?
Also, I'm unclear how to tell if this is male or female. Do I have to wait for cones to appear?
 

plant_dr

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Don't worry about wiring yet. You'll need to wait for it to recover first. No sense in wasting your time and wire on a tree that's not going to live till the end of summer...

Many collected yamadori don't see wire or cutters or any kind of "training" until two seasons or more. The reason for that is because many trees (especially evergreens) can stay green and appear healthy for some time after collection even if they didn't really survive the collection. They can even push some new growth out from stored energy, giving you the impression that it is doing ok.

Waiting an extra year or two will assure you it is going to survive and living on a functioning energy producing system. This will also give you time to come up with a good vision for what you want the tree to become - or what the tree wants to become, lol.
 

artao

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Don't worry about wiring yet. You'll need to wait for it to recover first. No sense in wasting your time and wire on a tree that's not going to live till the end of summer...

Many collected yamadori don't see wire or cutters or any kind of "training" until two seasons or more. The reason for that is because many trees (especially evergreens) can stay green and appear healthy for some time after collection even if they didn't really survive the collection. They can even push some new growth out from stored energy, giving you the impression that it is doing ok.

Waiting an extra year or two will assure you it is going to survive and living on a functioning energy producing system. This will also give you time to come up with a good vision for what you want the tree to become - or what the tree wants to become, lol.
Fair nuf. I can be patient. :)
Another question then: Should I put it in some bonsai soil, or keep it in the exceedingly sandy soil that I found it in and currently have it potted in? The region I live in is a very very old and flat river valley (Wisconsin River) with extremely sandy soil everywhere. I found this on what is pretty much sand dunes, actually. Tho not as full-on sand dunes as the place I visited the day after, just south of the place I found this little guy. (I strongly suspect the two areas were one prior to humans interjecting and building a road thru there and doing a whole bunch of farming)
And it has already shown me kind of what it wants to do. A sort of curving sweep off to the one side.

Watching numerous videos tho, I have seen many people immediately put yamadori into a training pot. Is this just a bad idea in general? From my understanding, doing so largely depends upon how healthy and vigorous the root structure is. As well as the species, of course.
One thing I'm currently planning on doing is some mame bonsai using yamadori. I'd planned to put them into training pots right away. Mame bonsai seems to be one of the "quicker" ways to actually start doing the bonsai work rather than simply growing the trees to recover for a year or two. Am I mistaken in that regard? I realize mame needs more mindful attention and care, but think that even tho I am an abject beginner, I have enough understanding and "feel" for plants that I could be successful. ... On the other hand, I don't want to just become a "tree killer."
 
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bonsaichile

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Fair nuf. I can be patient. :)
Another question then: Should I put it in some bonsai soil, or keep it in the exceedingly sandy soil that I found it in and currently have it potted in? The region I live in is a very very old and flat river valley (Wisconsin River) with extremely sandy soil everywhere. I found this on what is pretty much sand dunes, actually. Tho not as full-on sand dunes as the place I visited the day after, just south of the place I found this little guy. (I strongly suspect the two areas were one prior to humans interjecting and building a road thru there and doing a whole bunch of farming)
And it has already shown me kind of what it wants to do. A sort of curving sweep off to the one side.

Watching numerous videos tho, I have seen many people immediately put yamadori into a training pot. Is this just a bad idea in general? From my understanding, doing so largely depends upon how healthy and vigorous the root structure is. As well as the species, of course.
One thing I'm currently planning on doing is some mame bonsai using yamadori. I'd planned to put them into training pots right away. Mame bonsai seems to be one of the "quicker" ways to actually start doing the bonsai work rather than simply growing the trees to recover for a year or two. Am I mistaken in that regard? I realize mame needs more regular attention and care, but think that even tho I am an abject beginner, I have enough understanding and "feel" for plants that I could be successful. ... On the other hand, I don't want to just become a "tree killer."
Actually, mame refers to a particular size of bonsai, not the time they are in training. And they are very difficult. In any case, the rationale behind leaving the collected trees alone for a few years has to do with the fact that these are wild trees, unaccostumed to be in a pot. The collection process is exceedingly stressful and damaging for the tree. For it to be able to endure bonsai training, it needs to rebuild its root system first and regain vigor later. If you chop a collected tree before it is time, it will probably die. Mame, shohin, chuhin, whatever the size you envision for your trees, you need to make sure they hace recovered. And that takes time. Health is the first consideration when doing bonsai.
 

Adair M

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A few notes here...

When you collect a tree from “the wild”, don’t prune any foliage off. The tree needs every bit of sugar it has to overcome the stress of collection, and junipers store their strength (sugars) in the foliage. So, cutting it back weakened it considerably.

Soil in a pot does not act like soil in the ground. Even though “it’s been growing in it it’s whole life”, it hasn’t been in a pot. Soil, and water, act differently in a pot, which is why we use bonsai soil rather than “dirt”.

That said, newly collected trees are not generally “potted” they’re put in grow boxes to sclimate themselves to being container plants. The reason boxes are used is the size and shape can be customized for each collected tree. The ideal method is to make a bix that will contain the rootball with as little disturbance as possible, with about an inch of “grow space” all around. Pumice is the typical “soil” used to backfill with. I have seen some funny shaped boxes, and rectangular boxes with diagonal cross pieces if the roots are oddly shaped.

Next... how shall I put this??? The tree you collected isn’t worth the effort you have put into it! The foliage is always going to be coarse. However... this tree can serve a valuable purpose as a “learning tree”. Hopefully, you’ll learn what it takes to keep it alive. Then later, you can learn to wire. (String tie downs aren’t any good.). And learn to repot, transition the tree to good bonsai soil, etc.

If the tree dies, well, no great loss. But, you’ll have learned something for when better things come along.

Meanwhile, learng a bit about wiring, by watching Colin Lewis's tutorial on www.craftsy.com. It’s free. You do have to register. Once in, search for bonsai, you’ll find it. Something like “essential wiring for bonsai” or something like that.
 
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Conifers hate being collected in the peak of summer! My thoughts and prayers are with you! 😂🙏🏼 Nonetheless, you’re not officially on your bonsai journey until you’ve lost some trees!

welcome and enjoy the ride my friend...

RK
I don’t think he’s going to respond. ;)

(I’ve done this EXACT same thing)

🤓
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@rollwithak - if you look at the date of the last post, this thread has been dormant since 2018. If you click on the original poster's profile name, a dialog box pops up, and shows that they have not logged into BNut since June 2018. We have all done this, responded to an old post that for one reason or another comes to our attention.
 
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