Has anyone tried Fremont Cottonwood?

strauch

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Hi everyone,

I am new to Bonsai and even newer to this site. I have a few trees doing well (Blue Juniper, Live Oak, Arborvitae), and I am ready for my next. My favorite tree is the Fremont Cottonwood, and it grows everywhere in my area. I am hoping to find a good specimen growing outdoors somewhere, as they pop up around just about every waterway here in Denver. My intuition is that I may do well finding a tree with a ~1" trunk, letting it settle in a normal pot for a while, and doing a trunk chop at the start of the next growing season. Has anyone ever done one of these so trees? And any suggestions on trying to get one started?
 

HorseloverFat

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Greetings, stranger! Mutton Legs or “respectable salads” ALL AROUND!
The Tiny Forest never slumbers.. but the woody dwarves do.

I’ve a few types of “Cottonwoods” around me.. I enjoy their branching structure and bark appearance....

I had collected one during my first year “fever” (kind young.. a stick in a pot)... after discovering the leaves and internodes rather large.. i decided to return mine to the wild.. MOST would say that most cottonwoods (i’ve no experience with Fremont) are NON-ideal for “bonsai techniques”... but this does NOT matter, TO ME... i even have a thread dedicated to my NON-ideals..

I most likely WILL replace it.. if i stumble across a LARGE beefy specimen.. this way the mentioned problems would not disrupt scale balance AS much...

You are likely to receive much better advice from one who ISN’T such a schmuck. :)

Pleasure to make your acquaintance.
 

HorseloverFat

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Also.. if you’d like to go ahead and update your profile to reflect even a vague location (Mine just says, NorthEastern Wisconsin), this will allow information to flow freely.. RELEVANT to YOUR particular climate.

:)
 

ShadyStump

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Nice to meet you, neighbor. I'm just a few hours south of you.
I'm new to bonsai too, but have so far had some success with cuttings of the willows around the region.
I'd guess you might try air layering unless you're not in a hurry. The cottonwood and willows both grow fast, but you're still looking at years for the trunk and bark to develop right if you go with a cutting or dig up a sapling. Seems to me like they should air layer pretty readily in the spring.
But here's hoping someone smarter than me can help you out more.
 

NOZZLE HEAD

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Black cottonwood is the species I have out here in Oregon.

That said, I have seen some large diameter hardwood cuttings (2”-3”) root in moist soil or a bucket of water. May be simple to find an interesting branch and give it a try.
 

oddirt

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For a while, I thought Fremont cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) were named for the city of Fremont just south of me, LOL. And then I saw their native range and learned that John Frémont was an explorer, botanist and politician who had a part to play in California's flag.

I've got these growing in my landscape and made some cuttings that rooted, did well, and then got nibbled by deer and are recovering. Might try a bigger cutting the future or just take my time with the ones I have. The ones in the landscape have taken 15 years to get to 15' in height and 4" in diameter but they're not planted in as wet an area as they probably could ideally be. The leaves are small, the bark is rough, and it has a nice fall color. So I think these will do well as bonsai. I also take a lot of inspiration from how they look in the wild.

I've got my growing in a mix with high organic content (50% shredded fir bark) due to its riparian habitat and the rest is equal parts pumice and lava. Maybe in 10-15 years I'll have something worthy of photos. I plan on treating them like other deciduous trees in terms of repotting, root management and pruning. You may need to adjust your mix according to your local weather and plant source.

If you start with good nursery material, you won't have all the waiting that I'm enduring for them to get mature-looking. I would keep a nursery tree in its pot until the late winter when it looks like it's going to leaf out. Between now and then, keep it well-watered and fertilized, and start pruning it to keep the foliage compact. There are a ton of resources on pruning deciduous trees for branch taper, ramification, etc. Good luck!
 

MaciekA

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I have observed and collected very gnarled up and relatively yamadori-worthy cottonwoods in the Oregon Cascades. They grow in clusters so you might encounter a tap root that plunges under loose gravel only to emerge 7 feet away as a whole separate tree. Certain locations (in my case, a very loose rockfall zone next to a creek with lots of gravel) seem to be able to produce stunted cottonwoods with trunks that have a very nicely aged and twisted appearance. If you only find telephone pole straight ones or boring ones, let em be and keep searching for better locations. I suspect that the location I found probably stays snowed over a longer period of time, so you may be looking at something not south-facing. Check satellite views / terrain views on google maps for candidate scouting spots before you go out.

Recovery from collection seems fairly effortless (aside from me not acting on evidence of pests earlier in a smaller plant). I kept a bit of native soil blended into pumice and had success with both a larger tree planted in a larger recovery box and a smaller "child" tree (separate, but connected via roots) planted in a pond basket. Both leafed out very nicely. Both had borer infestations, which led to me discarding the smaller tree (borers worked very fast). The larger tree was easy to treat with a borer-killing systemic -- one strong treatment and the borers immediately stopped.

I say go for it, populus is populus and there is information out there on how to deal with this genus, particularly on Mirai Live.

edit: I collected in November. Easier to get to some collecting sites before budding starts than if you were to attempt to get there in the springtime. If you have roads that snow over you may want to think about this when planning your timing.
 

Mikecheck123

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I've got some that I grew from seed. I hard chopped one of them to see what would happen.

Not too encouraging to get just one shoot back. Which is probably why you don't see them as bonsai.

IMG_20200709_154137.jpg
 

sorce

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Reckon there are better, and worse trees to use.

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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In the greater Chicago-Milwaukee corridor, the only cottonwood we have, has coarse leaves and coarse branching. They do trunk up quick, and have an interesting bark. Were I to attempt one, I would plan for a larger tree. Look for 4 inch diameter trunks, meaning look at 10 foot tall or 10 foot wide trees. Then bring them down to a 2 to 3 foot tall bonsai size. Cottonwoods are not usually considered "great candidates" for bonsai. But no reason to not try. Especially if they have some sentimental value to you.

Easier and quicker to create bonsai if you bring a tree down to size, rather than having to grow it up to size.
 

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