New to bonsai, young chinese elm

RangerRick

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Hi everyone,

I'm a super newbie. Been getting into bonsai in the last month, mostly reading and learning, but I finally pulled the trigger recently and got myself a little chinese elm!

While I'm super excited, its dawned on me that maybe this little elm is a bit too small to start training and shaping. I'd really prefer to have a larger trunk and more development.
I'd love to get some thoughts.
Should I repot into a bigger pot to help it grow larger? How long should I wait?
Thanks!20200817_195320.jpg
 

sorce

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What r all them things back there in the Bushes?

Welcome to Crazy!

What's yer location?

Baller pot!

It may be a little deep, but the root Pruning action is favorable!

Sorce
 

RangerRick

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What r all them things back there in the Bushes?

Welcome to Crazy!

What's yer location?

Baller pot!

It may be a little deep, but the root Pruning action is favorable!

Sorce
Just moved to Austin, TX about 2 months ago. Super excited to find a bonsai nursery nearby.

Yeah I thought the pot was strange. The lady at the nursery said that they make them there. Basically plastic with holes around and ziptied together. Helps aerate the soil I suppose?
 

RangerRick

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Oh and the stuff in the background is our neighbors garden. She's got all sorts of crazy plants there.
 

one_bonsai

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It does look a bit small. I would try to thicken the trunk. The fastest way to thicken the trunk is to plant it in the ground. If you can't to that then plant it in a large pot. I would also put some thick wire on it and bend the trunk. If you're going to bend the trunk, try and get the bend in nice and low, right at ground level if you can.
 

Shibui

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Generally larger pot = quicker growth = thicker trunk. Ground is the largest pot so growth in the ground usually beats any pot and takes less care.
Get the roots right before growing a tree on. That usually means bare root at a suitable time of year and pruning and/or untangling roots. Ugly small tangled roots just grow into thicker, uglier, more tangled roots as the tree grows and thickens and will be much more difficult to sort out after.
How thick to grow a trunk depends on the size of bonsai you plan, your expectations of what a good trunk looks like and how long you can leave it. There is no one right answer to that question.

Good idea to get some movement into the trunk unless you are aiming for a broom style. I think that trunk will be a bit too thick to bend and bending does not give any taper. Pruning gives much better trunk bends and adds taper to any trunk. Chinese elm is very good at budding so you can chop a trunk any time during growth and development and expect good response with lots of new shoots from whatever you leave.
As always, many different routes to similar destinations.
 

leatherback

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As you are learning here.. Once yu get this planted and established in a larger pot, consider to not "just cut" as @Shibui recommends. Do chop for all the right reasons he gives. But do a layer. Not because you need to but.. You get another tree, and you learn a techniques on a plant that needs lots of growing out still. Build your skills portfolio meanwhile never hurt anyone?
 

RangerRick

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Thanks for the responses and tips everyone. Wish I could grow in the ground, but I live in an apartment complex for now with plans to move to a house in a year.
I'll plan on moving this little guy to a larger pot and help it develop for a good while til I'm happy with the trunk.
I hadnt considered root growth though, so thanks for bringing that to mine. I know a good nebari is important, but can someone enlighten me on why ugly/tangled roots below the soil is undesirable?

In the meantime while I develop this little elm I plan on getting some larger more developed nursery stock to start practicing and learning on.
 

Shibui

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I know a good nebari is important, but can someone enlighten me on why ugly/tangled roots below the soil is undesirable?
Bonsai pot is generally so shallow that only the surface roots will be supporting the plant. Tangled roots below this are not a problem because they will be cut off at some stage but it helps the surface roots to grow and thicken when they are the only ones the tree has to grow with.
Roots thicken and fuse together like trunks and branches above ground. If you leave a mass of small roots below they will eventually thicken and fuse together into a single solid lump of wood. That can prove difficult to remove later so best to do the root pruning early while it is still easy to cut.
Good luck with the bonsai. They are ideal plants for those who live with limited space or need to move frequently. A way to have your garden plants when you don't have the garden.
 

Michael P

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About the pot, it is one of the Rootmaker products. They are designed to prevent circling roots and encourage development of a very well branched root system--perfect for bonsai. You might be able to get a larger one at the same nursery.
 
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