Japanese Maple Ground layer

Dav4

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It's a bit early to be re-potting trees here in N. GA, but I'm trying to get a head start on things this year as I have many trees to re-pot. This tree was ground layered last year. It was originally a cutting I struck maybe 13 years ago that was planted out in 2000 to thicken up. 2 years ago, when it was about 12 feet tall, it was dug up and moved to GA. Last year, I pulled it from it's 10gal pot, reduced the roots as best I could, then planted it in the anderson flat. I decided to try the ground layer after it had leafed out (April?), as the existing roots stunk and I really had nothing to lose. I don't have any pics of the process- sorry. I basically took a very large pair of knob cutters and bit away a 1 and 1/2 inch wide area of bark down through cambium into the underlying wood and did this around the entire trunk base. After applying rooting hormone to the bark just above where I bit away the trunk surface, I formed a fence of plastic mesh to hold the soil I piled on top of the original root ball to cover the layer.

I'm very pleased with the results, as this is my first ground layer. Honestly, the hardest part was whittling and wacking away the original roots and flattening the trunk just below the new root system- maybe 90 minutes hard labor. I went ahead and further reduced the trunk- the pics were taken before I cleaned up the cuts. It's back in the flat for a bit- I need to establish a new apex, which will come from either an adventitious bud or a thread graft- we'll see.

I'll admit that it was mediocre material to begin with, but it's alot better now then it was a year ago.

Dave
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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That nebari is going to be special!

How long do you think it's going to take to build your next section of trunk and get good taper from in the Anderson flat...or are you growing this on the ground this season and letting it escape?
 

Dav4

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Great question, Brian...I honestly don't know:confused:. I'm reluctant to plant it out again, but this would get the apex squared away fastest. Honestly, I was caught of guard here as I didn't think the new roots were going to be nearly as developed as they turned out to be. I'm thinking of atleast starting the apex while the tree is in the anderson flat, and re-eval things later this summer or next year. I will most likely build a larger wooden grow box for it and see how that works.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Set it on the ground somewhere, and you'll probably be surprised by what you see on top by the end of the year. Those perforated bottoms are great for allowing roots to get out and still contain something usable.

It's a nice tree and it's getting a great skirt of surface roots around it...looking forward to updates!
 

Dav4

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That's a good idea, Brian. I just need to find a place in the yard where it can get enough sun, water, and not get peed on by the dogs:D. Thanks again.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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...and not get peed on by the dogs:D. Thanks again.
LMK if you get that one figured out! I'm just trying to keep ours from digging up the growing bed. I threaten her that if she digs a hole deep enough...she's going in it! :D
 

jquast

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Set it on the ground somewhere, and you'll probably be surprised by what you see on top by the end of the year. Those perforated bottoms are great for allowing roots to get out and still contain something usable.
Brian,

For the Anderson T-flats I always thought that the perforated bottoms were used for air pruning the roots. Do you still get good root development within the flat when they are allowed to escape?

jeff
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Brian,

For the Anderson T-flats I always thought that the perforated bottoms were used for air pruning the roots. Do you still get good root development within the flat when they are allowed to escape?

jeff
Yes, they still contain enough of a sustaining root system to make an easy transition to a bonsai pot.

I haven't noticed any "air pruning" happen with A. Flats if they're on the bench, but the drainage is just excellent, and provides plenty of air exchange.
 

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Ughhhh.. you chopped the wrong trunk dude???
 

Dav4

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Ughhhh.. you chopped the wrong trunk dude???
Nah, I stared at this tree for a few years before committing...I kept the right trunk for what I'm planning. I know the taper isn't great now, but time will fix that. Besides, I've got another Japanese maple 10 year old cutting with a trunk line reminiscent of the one you liked from this tree. It needs a bit of work, too, so I'll make it the focus of another thread shortly.
 
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Smoke

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It's back in the flat for a bit- I need to establish a new apex, which will come from either an adventitious bud or a thread graft- we'll see.I'll admit that it was mediocre material to begin with, but it's alot better now then it was a year ago.

Dave
Great question, Brian...I honestly don't know:confused:. I'm thinking of atleast starting the apex while the tree is in the anderson flat, and re-eval things later this summer or next year. I will most likely build a larger wooden grow box for it and see how that works.
That's a good idea, Brian. I just need to find a place in the yard where it can get enough sun, water, and not get peed on by the dogs:D. Thanks again.
Nah, I stared at this tree for a few years before committing...I kept the right trunk for what I'm planning. I know the taper isn't great now, but time will fix that. Besides, I've got another Japanese maple 10 year old cutting with a trunk line reminiscent of the one you liked from this tree. It needs a bit of work, too, so I'll make it the focus of another thread shortly.
Oh Ok...It seemed thru the progression of the replies that no idea was in mind and then in the end there is a revelation that there is a plan. It might be cool to share that in more detail so what was done now makes better sense for later. I am curious about how to fix deadhead chops myself.:confused: I am eager to see the new thread and second tree. Keep them coming.
 

Dav4

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Al, I readily admit that I don't know everything. I'll also admit that I've never created a JM maple bonsai from scratch- did you catch the part about this being my first ground layer? Still, I know the basic image I'm shooting for with this trunk, and I feel confidant it will get there. My goal is to create a broom style tree with a powerful trunk. I don't know how long it will take because this is my first attempt at this, but I'm honestly happy with things as they stand. I'll be quite happy fooling around with my other trees while this one grows its new apex. Sorry, I don't have any pearls for you- wish I did. I'll try to start that other thread today, if I can- it's 23F right now and the tree is frozen to the ground.

Dave
 
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Smoke

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Al, I readily admit that I don't know everything. I'll also admit that I've never created a JM maple bonsai from scratch- did you catch the part about this being my first ground layer? Still, I know the basic image I'm shooting for with this trunk, and I feel confidant it will get there. My goal is to create a broom style tree with a powerful trunk. I don't know how long it will take because this is my first attempt at this, but I'm honestly happy with things as they stand. I'll be quite happy fooling around with my other trees while this one grows its new apex. Sorry, I don't have any pearls for you- wish I did. I'll try to start that other thread today, if I can- it's 23F right now and the tree is frozen to the ground.

Dave
Many years ago I was known as the "social sledgehammer" on BonsaiTALK. Even had a few T shirts made. So take my rather brash research and development questions with a little "OK it's Al again needing clarification". I'm here to help.

Not once in this thread was the form "Broom" mentioned, so questioning the removal of a full years work remaking a portion of tapering trunk you already had and cut off is not really a stupid question. Considering a broom style, I might be wondering about the choice of the words " my other trees while this one grows its new apex" knowing broom style trees do not have an apex. Maybe "crown" or "canopy"would be a more appropriate image.

An easy method for gowing good brooms is to have a surgical dressing of the cambium, make one wrap with styrofoam drinking cup and fill collar of cup with cotton balls and tent loosely with clear plastic. The top of the cut has to stay moist or it will dry and recede and keeping the cottom balls moist under the plastic is essential. If you are in a wet climate watch for fungus though. With this method you should have many buds by June and ready for rubbing off those to go while retaining those that you wish to keep. Start with seven as some will be lost. A final count of five leaders for a broom is good. When shoots are as large as no. 12 copper, wrap shoots with wire and twist them into spirals for movement. They will still be chopped back later for taper but the bases of these branches will have some good movement to build on.
 

Dav4

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Al, I have always appreciated your input, and still do...it's all good. Thanks for the advice on developing a broom canopy. You may be right, though...broom may not be the right description for what I envision with this tree. The overall image will hopefully show a tree with a powerful, tapering trunk that divides into subtrunks and branches moving up, down and out to creates a relatively wide, full canopy. When the tree is bare, there will be a readily identifiable canopy, but it won't be pointy and head and shoulders above the rest of the foliage. Not really a classic broom, but not styled like an informal upright, either. Any way, it's going to take some time to grow it out, I think, but I'll keep you posted.

Dave
 
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Dav4

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I thought I'd update this thread as there have been some significant changes with this stock. The ground layer from several years ago was a complete success, as this picture shows, and really set this stock up to develop into a great bonsai.
 

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Dav4

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Unfortunately, the root system died some time last year:mad:. The tree pushed two or three tiny little leaves this spring, which turned black within a week of opening:(.
 

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Poink88

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Unfortunately, the root system died some time last year:mad:. The tree pushed two or three tiny little leaves this spring, which turned black within a week of opening:(.
So sorry to hear that. Were you able to determine why it croaked? :confused:
 

Dav4

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So sorry to hear that. Were you able to determine why it croaked? :confused:
No, but I have some theories. This tree was in an anderson flat on the ground, with a similarly planted palmatum placed next to it. The mix was mostly turface with some grit. Both trees had vigor issues last summer, but this one more or less collapsed by mid summer, lost most of its' leaves in August, then budded out weakly into the fall. The other tree is growing very well this spring, and this one....well...isn't. I suspect that the mix either stayed too wet, or my dogs were relieving themselves on the flats...which is unlikely because they're rarely outside by themselves. FWIW, I'll never do straight turface again.
 

Poink88

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FWIW, I'll never do straight turface again.
As much as I love Turface, I will never use it 100% on any of my plants as well. Most I will do is 50% now. During the recently concluded convention, Colin touched on this (soil) subject a little and his take is mix of inorganic and organic. Well he said Akadama is best if you can afford it. He even advocated using/adding some sifted composted materials. Easy for me to swallow since he is preaching to the choir in my case. :)
 
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