New to Bonsai

flamestepper

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Hello all. Last June I found these two trees growing too close to our house and instead of just killing them I decided to see if I could make something of them. I dug them up and planted them in two pots we had and put them back where they were. I watered them for a few months and they looked like they were having a hard time. They went through the winter outside and just started to grow again a few weeks ago. I am not sure how old they are but they are about 8 inches and 14 inches tall. What should I do next? Should I let them grow some more, trim them, etc. I am very new to Bonsai and any advice would be appreciated.
20210419_180752_1.jpg20210419_180701_1.jpg
 

Forsoothe!

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If you go to the upper right hand corner and click on your Icon, you can add your location and people will be able to customize advice for you.




<<<<< It will show here.
 

leatherback

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Hi, welcome to the nuthouse and bonsai!

I think that you will find concencus to be, let these grow a little. For bonsai, you aim to grow a miniature tree. For it to look convincing, the trunk needs to be quite big, else you will end up with just a ball of green on a lolliepop. Let the plant grow. Read up on nebari development (in spring NEXT year) and look for articles about building taper & getting movement in the trunk.

There is a wealth of information out there. A lot of it dependent on local climate, experience, species and age of the material. Try not to drown and drop questions before doing work. You will find there are people that have worked with pretty much any species in any stage of development on this forum. And if you do your part of the work, you will get excellent help.

Oh, yeah: https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/how-to-be-a-successful-bonsai-beginner.48994/
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Hello all. Last June I found these two trees growing too close to our house and instead of just killing them I decided to see if I could make something of them. I dug them up and planted them in two pots we had and put them back where they were. I watered them for a few months and they looked like they were having a hard time. They went through the winter outside and just started to grow again a few weeks ago. I am not sure how old they are but they are about 8 inches and 14 inches tall. What should I do next? Should I let them grow some more, trim them, etc. I am very new to Bonsai and any advice would be appreciated.
View attachment 370213View attachment 370214

Your first tree looks like a maple, probably Acer platanoides, the Norway maple. Might be Acer rubrum, red maple. The second does look a bit like sweet gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, If the leaves are in alternate pattern, then it is Liquidambar, if the leaves are opposite like the maple, then it is a maple.

Filling in your location helps with giving you climate related advise. Almost all timing issues with bonsai are based on local climate, not some "universal calendar". Everything is related to expected growing temperatures, and to expected first frost and last frost dates.

Most bonsai spend a good number of years, usually 5 to 10 years growing out to many times the size they will finish as bonsai. If you want a bonsai tree 12 inches tall, usually somewhere between seedling and the bonsai display bench a decade later, the tree will have to grow to be 5 to 15 feet tall in order to thicken up the trunk. Then the tree is cut DOWN to bonsai size. It is very rare that bonsai are created only by growing the tree UP to bonsai size.

Maples and Sweet gum *if that is what your second tree is?* usually work best as bonsai in the 18 to 36 inch tall range. They are difficult to work with as little trees less than 8 inches tall. So plan on growing these out for a few years. Set them up to grow out. Wide shallow containers will create a better spreading root base. Don't expose the surface roots on young trees in training, but you do shape the root system every time you repot. I use 16 x 16 x 5 inch flats with mesh bottoms to grow out young material. They hold about 3 or so gallons of potting media. THey are good for growing trunks up to 2 inches in diameter. maybe a bit bigger.

So your trees have a bit of growing to do. Nothing to do this season except let them grow, read and learn more about bonsai. The "New to Bonsai section is loaded with good advice. The "maples" section is also a forum you should read back into. And Liquidambar you should use the search function on BNut to pull up tricks and tips for sweetgum. It will appear in "general", "Miscellaneous" and "Other Deciduous".
 
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First tree is Acer Saccharum, sugar maple or Acer Platanoides, Norway maple like Leo said.

I am 100% sure second tree is Liriodendron Tulipifera, aka, Tulip tree or Yellow Poplar.
 
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As for what to do with them... just keep them alive for this year, since you recently dug them up. Next year, maybe try repotting them into something wider and shallower to get a better root structure started. You can start imagining what youd like them to ultimately look like. Maybe do some research on what top quality bonsai of each species look like.
 

TN_Jim

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the maple has two small leaves down low, cut just above there, let it grow and hopefully put out lower buds

tulip tree is the state tree hear abouts, is a unique species, not a true poplar despite how it grows straight like a telephone pole good for the mill....make healthy and chop it low next winter....
are those tall 5 gallon nursery pots? contrary to popular belief, would put them in 15 gallon for awhile if you want them to remain in pots
 
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tulip tree is the state tree hear abouts, is a unique species, not a true poplar despite how it grows straight like a telephone pole good for the mill....make healthy and chop it low next winter....

@TN_Jim have you worked with Liriodendron before? Do they backbud reliably?
 

TN_Jim

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@TN_Jim have you worked with Liriodendron before? Do they backbud reliably?
I have worked among them in a nursery setting. They don’t seem to be one of the many species that require removal of low sucker branches every spring but feel confident they would throw out new growth with a well timed chop.

My neighbor has one in his back yard that was protected by the state because of its size (~6’ diameter trunk) that he recently had removed because it became a potential danger to his home and the surrounding houses. They cut it at about 12’ up and it has exploded with a ton of branches at that chop. Thing is a beast.

I have not used them as bonsai material although potentially seek to in the future. However, I have seen them as bonsai -maybe here on BN somewhere?? Evidently those big forked leaves can be reduced significantly.
 

flamestepper

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Thank you all very much for all the advice I appreciate it. I guess I have a bunch of reading to do. I think I will let them grow for a while.
 

HorseloverFat

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The Acer looks Platenoides to me... Norways are neat... some people consider them non-ideal.. but they have a HUGE “seed genetic deviance” that I have noted... i work with several.. @0soyoung has some AWESOME Norways.

The next one looks like Tulip Tree... as has been said..

I just wanted to be part of the discussion.

🤓
 
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I have worked among them in a nursery setting. They don’t seem to be one of the many species that require removal of low sucker branches every spring but feel confident they would throw out new growth with a well timed chop.

My neighbor has one in his back yard that was protected by the state because of its size (~6’ diameter trunk) that he recently had removed because it became a potential danger to his home and the surrounding houses. They cut it at about 12’ up and it has exploded with a ton of branches at that chop. Thing is a beast.

I have not used them as bonsai material although potentially seek to in the future. However, I have seen them as bonsai -maybe here on BN somewhere?? Evidently those big forked leaves can be reduced significantly.

Good to know. I dug a small seedling the other day and would love to work with the species. The leaves are so unique and if you can get it to flower would be reallllly cool.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Welcome aboard @flamestepper!

I wish you many years of fun and enjoyment in bonsai. Two hints from me.

This site is a gold mine of information, use it frequently.

Get some more trees, but think before reaching for the credit card 😎

cheers
DSD sends
 

HorseloverFat

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Didn’t see this was your first post.... normally my “welcomes” are.. different.

Your username makes TWO things happen in my mind....

Pondering multi-chamber cross-draft kilns while humming Ini Kamoze.


Pleasure to make your acquaintance.

🤓
 

flamestepper

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Didn’t see this was your first post.... normally my “welcomes” are.. different.

Your username makes TWO things happen in my mind....

Pondering multi-chamber cross-draft kilns while humming Ini Kamoze.


Pleasure to make your acquaintance.

🤓
Too funny. I forgot about that song. The name Flamestepper is the name given to the main character's horse in a book series that I enjoyed reading "The Last Kingdom" by Bernard Cornwell. It was also made into a TV series.
 

flamestepper

Seedling
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So I went to the local garden store and picked up a Chinese Elm.20210503_121319.jpg.
I also picked up some Bonsai soil and took the little guy out of the big pot and gave him is own home.20210503_121638.jpg.
I then took some of the seeds that have fallen in our yard.20210503_121342.jpg and planted a few to see what I can make of them. I want to thank everyone here for all the help. I appreciate it.
 

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