Hello from New Zealand

#1
Hi,

I'm very new to bonsai, trying to read as much as I can. I was given this conifer (not sure exactly what type) by my neighbor. Is this a suitable tree to bonsai or Is it already too large? If you could point me in the direction of a good bonsai 101 tutorial that would be great.

Thanks,
Scott

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#2
Welcome, looks like an arborvitae to me but I don't know if they make good material or not. I'm sure that someone with more knowledge will pipe in shortly.
 
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#3
Hello Scott, Welcome to BNut.
We do have a small contingency of members from New Zealand, if you put your general location in your profile, these other members might contact you with local suggestions. Maybe even a meet and greet.

The tree is not too large for bonsai. Most finished bonsai spend a good part of their first 5 to 10 years being 5 to 10 times the height that they will finish at. A tree that might be exhibit ready at 0.5 meters, might be as much as 2.5 meters tall for a couple years while being made ready to become ''bonsai''. We prune trees down to bonsai size rather than grow them up to bonsai size.

There is an alternate route for some trees where the tree is grown up to bonsai size, but this is less common and done more for certain species rather than the normal rule.

What species of tree is your bonsai

Your tree appears to be a Thuja occidentalis or possibly a Chamaecyparis obtusa. Both make fairly good bonsai, both species are trained by similar techniques. Both would be fully hardy in New Zealand regardless of whether you were on North Island or South Island. So you have a decent species for bonsai.

Resources - read what you can find on Hinoki Cypress - Chamaecyparis obtusa, and Thuja occidentalis. There will be many more articles about Hinoki than Thuja. Both are treated similar, so whether the article is for one or the other does not matter.

Use the search function on this website for threads about Hinoki and threads about Thuja

Thuja and Hinoki would normally be posted under the ''Other Conifers" sub forum on this site also.
 
#4
Thanks J and Leo.

The tree was given to me, and I don't think even the neighbor knows exactly what type it is, but i'll research it when i get from home, and see if i can narrow it down. Thanks for your tips leo i'll read what I can on hinoki and thuja's.

am i right to say, i should start by choosing the height of tree I want, and then deciding if its time for the initial cut?

From what i can gleam, do I (when ready to start), re-pot and trim roots, leave it for a year to recover then cut the top? (very high level plan of action?)
 
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#5
Thanks J and Leo.

The tree was given to me, and I don't think even the neighbor knows exactly what type it is, but i'll research it when i get from home, and see if i can narrow it down. Thanks for your tips leo i'll read what I can on hinoki and thuja's.

am i right to say, i should start by choosing the height of tree I want, and then deciding if its time for the initial cut?

From what i can gleam, do I (when ready to start), re-pot and trim roots, leave it for a year to recover then cut the top? (very high level plan of action?)
Hi Bubble,
Welcome to the forum from a fellow NZer.
I am from the South Island, just north of Christchurch.
I have attempted to do bonsai for about 2 years now, mainly growing stuff in large pots, and trialing my bonsai potting mix on Azaleas to some success.
I agree with Leo that growing stuff out for 5-10 years is a little tough and boring, so any chance to buy bigger trunked trees and skip the first few years is my first piece of advice.
Also read plenty of threads here, as this website has an enormous amount of info to glean from.
Lastly I am happy if you want/need to ask stuff via pm, or here I can help on this thread and try not to come across as a know-it-all 👍
Charles
 
#6
Hi Bubble,
Welcome to the forum from a fellow NZer.
I am from the South Island, just north of Christchurch.
I have attempted to do bonsai for about 2 years now, mainly growing stuff in large pots, and trialing my bonsai potting mix on Azaleas to some success.
I agree with Leo that growing stuff out for 5-10 years is a little tough and boring, so any chance to buy bigger trunked trees and skip the first few years is my first piece of advice.
Also read plenty of threads here, as this website has an enormous amount of info to glean from.
Lastly I am happy if you want/need to ask stuff via pm, or here I can help on this thread and try not to come across as a know-it-all 👍
Charles
thanks charles, is now a good time to prune my bonsai, or should i wait to a better time? Its rootbound atm and needs a bigger pot (if i were to grow the tree normally), so i'm trying to decide if i upsize the pot and leave it as is and prune it later, or prune it now and put it into a smaller pot? Would you recommend pruning both root and trunk, or doing one at a time? everything i read seems to be in conflict lol. Thanks for your help. i'm in auckland, so no real chance of any frosts any more.
 
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#10
Good news, Thuja are pretty forgiving as far as horticulture is concerned. A little more difficult to bonsai, but easy to keep alive. (they are native to my immediate vicinity).

I have successfully repotted Thuja in winter, early spring, middle of summer, late summer and autumn all with roughly equal success. Only time I would not repot Thuja is in the middle of a spring flush of growth. Best if early spring, just before growth begins, or late summer after the bulk of growth has hardened off for the year.

Normally I would repot one year, do heavy pruning the next year. You ''might'' be able to get away with doing both at the same time but I think the best response from the tree is doing so in alternating years. More foliage will push stronger roots. Once roots are a year old, go ahead and work the foliage.

They do no back bud on wood once it has formed bark. Do not ''clean out'' all the interior growth, you keep the interiors to eventually replace the outer branches.
 
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#14
Hey man! You should check out Sam Brierley aka Eudai Bonsai, he's near the Bay of Plenty and he's got a some reaaaal nice trees. Adrian Bird also has some sweet trees, just not sure where he is located.

Will Baddeley from the UK is in NZ right NOW to do some workshops. In both the Christchurch and Auckland areas, but not sure which clubs. If you have some spare time and cash going to see Will would be a cracking way to spend it.
 

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