How tall should I keep this collected Chinese elm?

Mikecheck123

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I dug up this bad boy yesterday. I have temporarily kept as many leaves and leaf buds as I could, but as you can see, they're all at least 6 feet off the ground.

So my question is should I (1) leave it as is or (2) chop it now to about 1-2 feet.

My thinking on chopping it:

Pros:
I've never seen a collected tree that was this tall and maybe it'll be hard for the small amount of foliage to draw water that high.

Cons:
Seems easier on the tree to reuse existing buds than to grow new ones.

Thanks in advance.

277560
 

leatherback

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I would say, chop low. You want the tree to grow new buds in a place where you can use them, and not use on top.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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How tall do you want your bonsai to be? Choice is entirely yours.

What is the diameter of your trunk about an inch above the soil line?

Working backwards from trunk diameter. You can decide what you would like.

First, how ancient do you want your tree to look. Trunk diameter to height relationship lends to appearance of age.
Second, once you know how tall the tree you want, you need to figure the "generalized plan" is the first third of that height is trunk, second third is main branches and or sub trunks, final third of height away from roots is secondary and tertiary branches.

Ancient trees, fat trunk relative to height.
From 1:1 for fat sumo styles, to 1:5 for large, old, ancient looking trees. For example if your diameter of trunk is 4 inches, you would want a tree to finish at about 20 inches tall for the low end of old or ancient look. Following the plan of "thirds", you should make your chop at roughly 6 to 7 inches, to give you the proportions.

For medium age, parkland growing trees, or older forest trees, trunk to height should be
1:5 to 1 : 10 :: diameter : height

This means for a 4 inch diameter trunk your final height would be between 20 and 40 inches. If you went with the 1:10 your trunk chop would be at about 13 inches.

Greater than 1:10 are usually used to represent trees found in forests, where they grow tall and slender reaching for light.

The suggestion of dividing the tree into thirds is not an absolute rule, it is just one of many visual guide that is known to produce a tree image. Forest trees will have longer trunks, with branching beginning higher up. Parkland trees or trees growing in the open may branch much lower.

Pick the image you want to create - then plan out your cuts.
 

Zach Smith

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You must chop. The tree will backbud fine. You've reduced the root mass by 90% but the above ground part maybe 50%. Bring it into balance soon. And seal that trunk chop.
 

Mikecheck123

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You must chop. The tree will backbud fine. You've reduced the root mass by 90% but the above ground part maybe 50%. Bring it into balance soon. And seal that trunk chop.
Cool, thanks. I didn't know how to think about the systemics of the height, but you filled that in for me.
 

Mikecheck123

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Have you considered air layering it to get 2 or 3 trees?
Yes, and that's kind of part of my question. My priority obviously is survival. If we think it will survive staying tall, an airlayer is exactly what I'll do. I can wait to trunk chop it a season or two.

But if I NEED to trunk chop it to bring it back into balance as Zach said, I'll do that.
 

leatherback

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YOu do not need to. Just realize..
Recovery all of 2020
Airlayer 2021, with hopefully backbudding a little after layering.
This means you will not start this tree untill 2022 if you go for air layers.

To be honest.. I do not think this trunk is worth layering. Beside being big, what does it bring to the table?
 

Mikecheck123

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YOu do not need to. Just realize..
Recovery all of 2020
Airlayer 2021, with hopefully backbudding a little after layering.
This means you will not start this tree untill 2022 if you go for air layers.

To be honest.. I do not think this trunk is worth layering. Beside being big, what does it bring to the table?
So you're basically saying that the top of this tree is not worth the two year delay it will cost. Good point. I hadn't thought through the top much at all because I'm trying to maximize survival chances, but now that I look, yea, I don't see much of interest and everything is pretty telephone pole straight.
 

Mikecheck123

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Tree will invest most in top buds. Branches will grow. You start air layering and sugars from the foliage will not go back to the roots, which are drained of energy already from being dug up.
Thanks. I'm always amazed at the expertise here.
 

Schmikah

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My 2 cents.

The top blue line, not sure what to do with this. I would lose it.

Between the top blue chop and red line, this is the area that I am excited about. Assuming that you could air layer this section and then produce some back buds, this would make a fantastic informal upright. Obviously developing surface roots would by the priority (planting on a plank/block in the ground?), denoted by the green lines.

Below that, too straight, probably a throw away or if you want to air layer another section, a nice mother tree section if you have a couple of decades.

Below the blue wavy line, I defer to @AlainK

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AlainK

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My 2 cents.
Best advice so far, thanks for posting such a well-argumented, "sensée" suggestion. (👍 x 10)

The part below the wavy blue line will live : many posts about how to make a broom from ulmacea, elms, zelkova, etc. (hence the "v" cut, try the native search engine)

Post more often please. Thanks. ;)
 

rockm

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Please explain this (as opposed to chopping, at the same point, say).
Tree has just been collected. Air layering it is pushing it to develop two sets of roots--one at the expense of the other, while also asking it to produce leaves at the same time. Chop only asks half, of that effort. Simple is better...
 

sorce

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Unless it has right perfect surface Roots...

Might as well aim to layer.

It's just faster. If it is.

This one is.

Sorce
 

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