Luma Apiculata progression

Maiden69

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I was suggested this tree by Brent from Evergreen Gardenworks when I contacted him last summer when I decided to start the hobby. I have seen a few in full size, but in the US, they tend to be smaller trees/bush size, I don't know why (but I think it is due to the climate). In the tropics and the southern hemisphere, they grow to medium size trees (around 20m tall).

From my talks with Brent, it grows quickly for a few years to around 6ft if planted on the ground, then slows down. I think this may be a dwarf cultivar but he doesn't mention anything about it on his website.

Upon receiving
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They are known by "palo rojo, palo colorado, or arrayan" one of the websites mentions it as "arbol senador" but I never heard that name for it before. Anyways, below is the description from Brent site.

Luma apiculata (Peruvian Myrtle) S\PS\M\D\15ø\Ls\B Evergreen shrub. Grows quickly to 6 feet then slows down. Dark green foliage, white flowers and dark fruits, characteristics that all resemble Myrtle. Flowers from mid-summer to fall. Older plants develop beautiful smooth creamy brown trunks that should be revealed. Fairly drought resistant. Should make a wonderful bonsai since it develops a thick trunk very quickly, and withstands container culture. The Luma pictured here is our FOUR INCH POT size, or what you can expect after about two to three years from our smaller pots. It has just been pruned to reveal the interesting trunk movement attainable with this species. 2 3/4 inch pot size will usually have moving trunks, although you can specify if you prefer a straight trunk (yuck!). They are pruned down to about 8 inches and will have greater than 1/4 inch caliper. These are nice vigorous plants, very strong growing.

Let me tell you, this tree is not drought-resistant at all. I left it in the patio of the apartment I was living in while my house was built, receiving dappled sun from 3-7pm and when I got home it was crispy!

Crispy status
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After repotting in March 2021
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Bark detail
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Maiden69

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Back budding
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Present status
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I am allowing it to grow unchecked because to see the first flowering, as from all I have found on it once you start training it as a bonsai flowering is reduced greatly. I don't think I'm going to allow it to fruit... it depends on how I feel when it's done flowering. I will trim it in fall once it goes dormant. The trunk has thicken nicely, about double the size from when I received it. It is planted in 80% akadama 20% kyriu, and has a large size kyriu top dresing. It is placed in a shallow water dish as it started wilting as soon as the temperatures reached 80's because it was drying out too quickly. I think once I finalize my automated system I will remove it from the dish, as it will need to be water for the second time by noon. I can usually water them before leaving the house to work at 5am, and it was wilting by by 3pm when I get home.
 
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Shibui

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I have just been root pruning some of mine. Massive root growth in the post so they probably need more regular root trimming to keep the soil open for water penetration
I can also confirm good growth rates in larger pots and even faster if a root escapes.
I have had some flowering but mostly on developing trees that have not been pruned much. It may be a matter of treating like azalea and prune hard then cease pruning at some stage to allow flower buds to form. Even without flowers the tight, evergreen growth makes a great bonsai shape.
Hope you keep posting as you discover new things about this species because info currently appears to be quite limited.
 

Maiden69

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Thanks @Shibui, I repotted as buds started to appear and I completely bare rooted the tree. Right now roots are visible all around the pond basket, I can only imagine how full it's going to be by next spring. I'm debating either to keep it a shohin size depending on branch structure in the fall/winter when I clean it a little bit, or if I'm going to move it into a grow bag and in the grown.

If I keep it a shohin it will be repotted into the same media, but either a shallow wooden box lined with rootpouch fabric, or into a bonsai pot. If I decide to make it bigger it will go into a "pot in pot" inside a rootpouch. Still undecided, it all depends on how the other trees I have in pouches respond.

I read about the problem with water percolating which is why I decided to use large size kiryu as a top dressing instead of moss. Once I figure out it growth I can start to develop surface roots. One thing, I'm definitely placing it over a tile next repotting. I'm using upside down terracotta dishes with a hole drilled in the center, as I think they will help absorbing moisture the same way wood does without decomposing. I did this when I repotted my ficus, I used a 3" deck screw to attach the tree to the dish.
 

Maiden69

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As I was inspecting the tree last night I noticed that there is still some reverse taper from where a few branches were removed by Brent. I'm going to see how easy the new branches bend and attempt a thread graft in order to correct this, or if it would be better to ground layer the tree in the yellow line in the picture below. More to follow...
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Maiden69

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One season progression from MAR-AUG 2021.
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Different angles of the trunk. I will work on it during fall to select a trunk line, there are a few nice lines and with the amount of budding it pushes in spring it will be easy to start working on branching. I still don't know what the ultimate size will be.
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Interesting that the new branches emerge the same way I seen in trident maples (I'm sure there are other species, but I don't recall any other one right now).

They develop in pairs alternating from side/side to top/down, not great when it comes into selecting alternating shoots as the internode length will be double.
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I ended up trimming it a little bit. Mostly the tips and the 2 leaders. I set one up, but the tree decided to push a second one that was as high as the main leader. That one was cut back hard.
 

Maiden69

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@Shibui when do you trim or do structural pruning on your luma? I trimmed it around September to get more light in the interior. Right now it doubled up the size from the pictures in August, and there are a few heavy branches that I want to eliminate as they are in places that will create inverse swelling. I was planning on doing all the reduction and repot at the same time around end-Feb to mid-Mar. This is the only tree that entirely filled the pond basket in only one year.

I'm repotting it over a tile in a big but shallow grow bag to see how the roots react.
 

Arnold

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I also didnt know this species, its a Chilean tree very similar and related to the common Myrtle Myrtus communis, seems to have nice characteristics for bonsai
 

Shibui

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@Shibui when do you trim or do structural pruning on your luma? I trimmed it around September to get more light in the interior. Right now it doubled up the size from the pictures in August, and there are a few heavy branches that I want to eliminate as they are in places that will create inverse swelling. I was planning on doing all the reduction and repot at the same time around end-Feb to mid-Mar. This is the only tree that entirely filled the pond basket in only one year.
The little experience I have had shows that Luma responds to pruning at any time of year. Last autumn I chopped almost all of them really hard. Regrowth was slow over winter but come warmer weather they have all budded and grown well.
From what I've seen of these they respond to hard pruning any time of year but regrowth is much quicker in the growing season.
No problem so far with prune and repot in one operation.
 

Maiden69

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I repotted the Luma yesterday, bare-rooted as much as I could to remove all the nursery soil that was left last year. This tree pushes out a LOT of roots in a year. I completely forgot to take pictures as I left the phone inside, but the root ball was solid in an 8" pond basket. Only the last 1/2" in the bottom had some loose soil. I think I may have cut a little too hard, but judging from how the tree responded last year, it should be fine this time around.

One thing I learned from this years repot and prune was that this tree will definitely benefit from continuous pruning throughout the seasons. Lower branches got way too thick and needed to be removed. Last year I used akadama/kiryu mix, this year I decided to go with Bonsai Jack Monto Clay, which is turface, but at a 1/4" size and placed it in a 3 gal Rootpouch that I folded the sides in 1/3rds. I also screw an 6" hexagonal tile to the bottom of the trunk to improve the nebari.

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