Introduction and a question (or 2)

LordEOfBeckley

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Hello, first post here and basically new to bonsai. I've had some failed and misguided attempts keeping trees in the past, they've either perished at my hands or I've donated them to someone else with more time. Now I feel that I'm at a point that I can make it finally work.

This weekend I was at a local nursery and found a couple potential purchases, a Florida (american) Elm and a Red Maple. The elm is large, probably a 20-30 gallon nursery pot and typical of a landscape trees... tall and straight, maybe 10ft tall with a 3" base. The maple is in a 3 gallon pot and also typical of landscape stock, 5' tall and a 1" base.

If I were to pick these up, what would be my first and best options? Getting them out of the nursery pots and into the ground, into a grow box, etc? I was thinking that I'd probably air layer off the larger branches of the elm and then chop it back. The maple I was thinking to air layer the trunk to get 2 trees and then chop it back to start, and/or to take cuttings of the small branches.

Suggestions, Ideas?

I've been browsing the site for the past couple weeks and there is some great info here!
Thanks,
Mike
 

bonsai barry

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It sounds as if you have a plan. Personally, I wouldn't have the patience to wait a couple of years to work with trees that I was chopping back. Perhaps you could spend the money and find some trees that have a little more development that you could be trying to style a little sooner.

I have never worked with red maple (acer rubrum) , but I have heard that their leaves don't reduce in size and therefore don't make a satisfactory bonsai... but that's just stuff I've read on the Internet, can't say for certain.

Glad to have you a member of this forum and wishing you the best of luck on the bonsai adventure.
 

LordEOfBeckley

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Personally, I wouldn't have the patience to wait a couple of years to work with trees that I was chopping back. Perhaps you could spend the money and find some trees that have a little more development that you could be trying to style a little sooner.

I have never worked with red maple (acer rubrum) , but I have heard that their leaves don't reduce in size and therefore don't make a satisfactory bonsai... but that's just stuff I've read on the Internet, can't say for certain.

Hmmm... patience is definitely not a virtue that I am a master of. As far as starting from more developed stock, that is a good idea and I am planning on making a trip to a couple very nice nurseries in the next few weeks. Part of me is a bit cheap (and afraid of justifying larger $$$'s to the wife) and part of me just has a huge love of everything DIY.

This being said... what should my first step be? Get them out of the nursery pots and into the ground or a grow box?

As for the red maple... I've heard that as well, but have heard (and seen) many cases of them working out quite well. I'm considering starting with this one since it's actually native to FL, though I do plan on finding a trident as well.

Thanks again.
 

milehigh_7

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For plants try looking around at what does well in the landscape around you. With regard to more developed stock, you are simply buying years. You could find some experienced bonsai folk in your area to help you pick or you could even take some pictures when you go to the nursery and let some of the folks here give you some advice before you spend a bunch of money. However, I wish like crazy I would have started out with at least a few more developed trees.
 

rockm

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Red maple is not all that easy to develop and could prove very frustrating for someone getting started in bonsai. It requires aggressive specialized pruning to keep in shape. Acer rubrum "drummondii" is a subspecies in the extreme South, however, that has a neater growth habit and is relatively easier to develop.

Acer rubrum, as a species, is one of the most common trees east of the Mississippi.

I'd skip the air layering on the elm. You will spend a year getting a mediocre air layer at the expense of development of the main trunk.

What do you do with them now? Depends on what you want to do with them :) If you're satisfied with the trunk caliper, it's time to trunk chop and root prune them, then either repot them into traingint containers, or back in the ground to grow out the apex leader...
 

Bill S

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I would like to point out also to your Royal Highness:D, that Bonsai takes time and patience, most often years to a final result, that will then be rebuilt so to speak. So I say patience is something to be learned, or risk doing to much at the wrong time to your trees. Realize as well that you should only do only one major insult to a tree in a growing season, or risk it' sloss.

If you are looking to have a "bonsai" around to look at here and there, remember they take a lot of time to get to the point of having something to look at. Take your wife to the nursery with you, show her the impressive finished bonsai first, especially the price tags( shows how expensive time and talent is) then go to the pre bonsai section, there will be some real nicce bargains there, in time and bonsai value. Have Fun.
 

flor1

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If it were me I'd pass on both and look other places your not that far from Miami tropical. They can point you in the right direction for your area and offer classes that can help a lot.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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If it were me I'd pass on both and look other places your not that far from Miami tropical. They can point you in the right direction for your area and offer classes that can help a lot.

That's the best advice! Take that and Clyde's comments and find something that gets you off on the right foot.

Additionally, I find that need for patience in bonsai is inversely proportional to the number of trees you have...you've been warned! :D
 

treebeard55

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Welcome, Mike.

Finding good bonsai stock at a general-purpose nursery is a skill to be learned. (Chapter 7 of David DeGroot's Basic Bonsai Design is very helpful about that.) Even when you've got some experience under your belt, only 1 visit in 100 is going to give you something worth your time. (The flip side, of course, is that you pay less -- sometimes a lot less.)

Something else to consider is time available to you. At 58, I don't take on 30-year projects unless I'm planning in advance to leave them to someone else to finish!

Forgive my ignorance of the geography of Florida, but are you anywhere near North Ft. Myers and Wigert's Bonsai? Wigert's has some great stock, and from all I've heard, Erik and Andrea and their staff are both knowledgeable and helpful.

If it were me, I would pass on both the elm and maple, unless you want them for your yard, in-ground. I'd visit one of the bonsai nurseries in your state and start firing questions at the staff! :D:D
 

LordEOfBeckley

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All good advice and well received AND appreciated.

I'm pretty much an even distance between Miami Tropical and Dura-Stone. I'm passing Miami Tropical on a trip to the Keys next weekend so I plan on stopping there then, and probably dura-stone the following week.

Thanks!
 
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