Looking for general info for a Mountain Hemlock

Yugen

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I have a a Mountain hemlock that is probably several hundred years old. I can't seem to find much info on how to care for these basass trees other than the elementary- they need lots of water. Specifically I would like to know about pruning. I've heard that you don't prune like a pine or a juniper. One should let the hemlock get really bushy as they dont seem to suffer much die back under shaded branches. I would love to expand upon this or really anything else when it comes to this species.
:)
 
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Hi. They like lots of water but don't drown them. They'll still get root rot like other conifers. Soil should be 50/50 organic / crushed lava (or pearlite or the like).

They do have high shade tolerance but will still shade themselves out over time. So don't let it get too bushy.

They don't back bud. So we warned and plan accordingly.

It can take several years for wired branches to set. It's a defence against the snow mechanism. So be patient.

They like lots of light but some shade during the hottest hours is needed. Same goes for the roots. Don't cook them (or freeze then ironically enough. In nature snow protects the roots from the worst of the freezing temps ).

Hope this helps. Cheers.
 

River's Edge

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Soil should be 50/50 organic / crushed lava (or pearlite or the like).
I would not use this information for potted Hemlock! If you pm me I will send you a Hemlock care sheet!
Mountain Hemlock require special repotting skills and steps. Once established in a pot they are strong and need frequent repotting!
Styling involves pruning and wiring similar to juniper styling and wiring. However, they have very different foliage development and pad formation from juniper. Best to take classes from a knowledgeable practitioner.
They have very natural tendencies that lend them to Bonsai as excellent trees!
Here is an example of one I have been training since 1014.
 

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I would not use this information for potted Hemlock! If you pm me I will send you a Hemlock care sheet!
Mountain Hemlock require special repotting skills and steps. Once established in a pot they are strong and need frequent repotting!
Styling involves pruning and wiring similar to juniper styling and wiring. However, they have very different foliage development and pad formation from juniper. Best to take classes from a knowledgeable practitioner.
They have very natural tendencies that lend them to Bonsai as excellent trees!
Here is an example of one I have been training since 1014.

Curious as to what "soil" mix you would use. I've been growing mtn hemlock in pots for a decade or so, (mostly for work, only last ~2 years for bonsai I admit). I usually use 50/50 organic / draining mix and they seem to like it here and grow well.
 
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I am curious if Mountain’s differ from Eastern’s requirements by much. I have heard that Eastern do prefer some organic in the mix. I did a Boonish mix of 1/3 pumice, 1/3 akadama, 1/3 lava or calidama(hard pan) all sifted large. But I supplemented with spaghnum(~5%) and kitchen compost (~5%).. and my collected Tsuga sulked for about a year after collection and then took off and never looked back.
I realize there are many ways to skin the bonsai cat when it comes to soil (and that I am talking about another species), but I think this combination with the bit of extra organic, really buffers the moisture and fertilizer needs for nice healthy growth.
Next year I’ll be repotting into a Rayner pot.. I can’t wait.
 

Yugen

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Hi. They like lots of water but don't drown them. They'll still get root rot like other conifers. Soil should be 50/50 organic / crushed lava (or pearlite or the like).
  • I water once a day usually and once more on a real hot one. Right now maybe 40% of her root ball is still in the original soil with the rest pure pumice. I hope this is ok as I don't want to report for at least two years, as I just reported this year
They do have high shade tolerance but will still shade themselves out over time. So don't let it get too bushy.
  • Currently the tree gets most of the days sunlight with a few shadow breaks. I don't currently have a feasible shading method but I am blessed with climate on Vancouver Island.
They don't back bud. So we warned and plan accordingly.
  • The tree has plenty advantageous (?) buds but like you said it doesn't seem to exhibit any back budding on wood around 3-4 years old. I wonder how that will work long term with refinement...
It can take several years for wired branches to set. It's a defence against the snow mechanism. So be patient.
  • My patients will be tested for sure
They like lots of light but some shade during the hottest hours is needed. Same goes for the roots. Don't cook them (or freeze then ironically enough. In nature snow protects the roots from the worst of the freezing temps ).
  • I've only gone through one winter while practicing bonsai so far going with a perfect success rate so far 🤞. I really do love.the scene of bonsai out in the snow. This hemlock is a yamadori from a cliff side, so I hope it's more resilient than it seems. Guess I'll keep up with winter protocol for now

Hope this helps. Cheers.

  • You've been incredibly helpful, thank you very much for the insight !!!!!!
 

Yugen

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I would not use this information for potted Hemlock! If you pm me I will send you a Hemlock care sheet!
Mountain Hemlock require special repotting skills and steps. Once established in a pot they are strong and need frequent repotting!
Styling involves pruning and wiring similar to juniper styling and wiring. However, they have very different foliage development and pad formation from juniper. Best to take classes from a knowledgeable practitioner.
They have very natural tendencies that lend them to Bonsai as excellent trees!
Here is an example of one I have been training since 1014.

Thanks for the reply!
The pruning I'm rather hesitant about as if heard its good to keep them bushy and one doesn't follow the traditional alternating branch scheme nor necessarily the auto removal of upwards and downward facing shoots.

So far I've been using pure pumice when collecting and repotting my yams. I don't know how long it will take until I can afford a proper supply of akadama/Boons mix.

Your tree looks might epic by the way!!
 

Yugen

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I am curious if Mountain’s differ from Eastern’s requirements by much. I have heard that Eastern do prefer some organic in the mix. I did a Boonish mix of 1/3 pumice, 1/3 akadama, 1/3 lava or calidama(hard pan) all sifted large. But I supplemented with spaghnum(~5%) and kitchen compost (~5%).. and my collected Tsuga sulked for about a year after collection and then took off and never looked back.
I realize there are many ways to skin the bonsai cat when it comes to soil (and that I am talking about another species), but I think this combination with the bit of extra organic, really buffers the moisture and fertilizer needs for nice healthy growth.
Next year I’ll be repotting into a Rayner pot.. I can’t wait.
I don't know about Eastern's but I've collected one Western Hemlock and I put it in pure pumice and a little mix of organic solid fert. The damn thing didn't skip a beat! Which im told is rather rare..?!
 
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I don't know about Eastern's but I've collected one Western Hemlock and I put it in pure pumice and a little mix of organic solid fert. The damn thing didn't skip a beat! Which im told is rather rare..?!
Really nice tree you have there. I think pumice with a little organic should work well.
I will note from my canadensis experience, when doing a hard repotting, or collecting from the wild in the spring, that they often have a false start of growth before they quite realize what happened to their roots. And then pick up with vigor the next year. I would go light on the fertilizer (organic should be ok) until it has been in a pot at least a year.
If all goes well this year and new growth stays on, maybe a half bare root next year with your chosen substrate going forward, but confirm with those with similar geographic and species experience.
 

River's Edge

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Curious as to what "soil" mix you would use. I've been growing mtn hemlock in pots for a decade or so, (mostly for work, only last ~2 years for bonsai I admit). I usually use 50/50 organic / draining mix and they seem to like it here and grow well.
Mountain Hemlock are collected on sites that are basically composed of decomposed granite. The ones with the best feeder roots and the healthiest grow in rock pockets. They also inhabit edge of bog sites, but the root formation in those sites is very poor with few feeder roots! Collectors have in the past put newly collected hemlock on the ground and covered with sea soil and pumice mix. This works with free drainage through the ground but tends to stay too wet in rainy season with fungal issues prevalent and lower percentage of survival!
I use pure pumice around the collected soil and change out the native soil slowly in segmented fashion to retain as many feeder roots as possible throughout the process. ( A method taught to me by Michael Hagedorn . Michael is one of the top professionals in the PNW who are very familiar with Mountain Hemlock. I consider his styling of Hemlock to be the best! )

Once the native soil is changed out I keep all Hemlock in the following combination. Akadama , Pumice , Granite , Lava.
I would vary the percentage of Akadama and Pumice based on the climate. Wetter climate, lower percentages of akadama and pumice for a drier mix!
You may also wish to increase % if you wish to water less often. Then the trees must be protected in the rainy season or problems will occur.
For a general guideline consider the following:
Akadama 15 to 25% ( similar particle size, structure, higher moisture retention and CEC capacity)
Pumice 20 to 30 % ( similar particle size, structure, good moisture retention)
Lava 20 to 30% ( similar particle size, structure, some moisture retention)
Granite 15 to 20 % ( primarily to add weight and mineral elements)

I use organic fertilizer that I make myself! However many products can be used successfully if understood and applied correctly! I always recommend lower number regardless of the form. Prefer all three numbers below 10.
Just my approach, no worries if you feel comfortable going in a different direction.
 

River's Edge

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I am curious if Mountain’s differ from Eastern’s requirements by much. I have heard that Eastern do prefer some organic in the mix. I did a Boonish mix of 1/3 pumice, 1/3 akadama, 1/3 lava or calidama(hard pan) all sifted large. But I supplemented with spaghnum(~5%) and kitchen compost (~5%).. and my collected Tsuga sulked for about a year after collection and then took off and never looked back.
I realize there are many ways to skin the bonsai cat when it comes to soil (and that I am talking about another species), but I think this combination with the bit of extra organic, really buffers the moisture and fertilizer needs for nice healthy growth.
Next year I’ll be repotting into a Rayner pot.. I can’t wait.
I consider 1/3 akadama is very high CEC capacity. Fertilizer growth would depend on how you decide to provide! If in the soil then repotting will be more frequent as it breaks down and compacts! As you say many ways to provide combinations.
 

River's Edge

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WOW:eek:. You much older than one would imagine;).
First styling was actually in October 2014. However I was trying to type 2014! Could be I was without my bifocals, or my teeth, or my hearing aids. Perhaps I was simply missing my cane! Nope maybe I lost my mind!
Lately it is probably the medication from back surgery, but I digress!
Happens after 70.
 

ghues

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@Yugen, how are you making out with this? Glad to see a little BC connection here with species we can explore together.
One thing I would add to Franks (River’s Edge) Post is; If you don’t use an organic fertilizer, I highly recommend sifted SeaSoil or Ocean Soil which helps give Mtn Hemi’s (Hm) a great blue/green hue. Also I am just completing trimming out this years flush extension (on Hm) and thinning out specific smaller branches to ensure that light enters the inner portions of the foliage pad.
 

Potawatomi13

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Here she is by the way. Haven't really decided which is the front yet. It's like she's got two faces
Wonderful tree. Two fronts indeed. However might suggest turning so smaller trunk is not in front of larger. Somehow tho this does not seem necessarily best idea:confused:🤔? Showing movement of smaller trunk seems a good thing. Really great tree😉.
 

Yugen

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@ghues
So far everything has been great this year. My two Mountain Hemlocks have put out a double flush, like everything else! This is my first year with MH so I'm nervous at each step. My current concern is that the MH I posted pictures of is still loosing interior needles. I don't know if the second flush is causing more older needles to fall off, if this is just normal, or if there is too much needle load choking out interior light.

I haven't done any post flush harden pruning because within two months I plan on styling the MH and using coper wire for my first time. If the tree is ok with that then I know I've got a tree for life 😁

As for fert, I switch between a chemical one and fish fertilizer. The yamadori MH has loads of original organic soil in it and I think I've got that blue/green needle colour from it (maybe it didn't come out in the pics..)! My other yamadori MH came out if more inorganic soil and had very dark green leaves.


@Potawatomi13
Thanks for your suggestions! I think it's going to be hard to establish the best angle for this tree. It's definitely going to be more wild than manicured
 

ghues

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@ghues
So far everything has been great this year. My two Mountain Hemlocks have put out a double flush, like everything else! This is my first year with MH so I'm nervous at each step. My current concern is that the MH I posted pictures of is still loosing interior needles. I don't know if the second flush is causing more older needles to fall off, if this is just normal, or if there is too much needle load choking out interior light.

I haven't done any post flush harden pruning because within two months I plan on styling the MH and using coper wire for my first time. If the tree is ok with that then I know I've got a tree for life 😁

As for fert, I switch between a chemical one and fish fertilizer. The yamadori MH has loads of original organic soil in it and I think I've got that blue/green needle colour from it (maybe it didn't come out in the pics..)! My other yamadori MH came out if more inorganic soil and had very dark green leaves.


@Potawatomi13
Thanks for your suggestions! I think it's going to be hard to establish the best angle for this tree. It's definitely going to be more wild than manicured
The removal/cleaning of yellow needles is an annual event. Hemi’s are shade intolerant, so the key is to thin out the more aggressive growth (don’t want those log extensions) to increase interior light. It’s somewhat tedious but your foliage pads will be enhanced.
Keep us posted on how you make out.
 
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Any update on this Tsuga? Did you repot yet?
 

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