New, Young Material Advice

Kubruceiii

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So I ordered some small trees from sequoiatrees.com - a blue spruce, a piñon pine, a Japanese maple and a ginko biloba. None of them are very big and have not been trained for bonsai at all. I plan to initially grow them in some large net pots and to thicken the trunk I plan to grow some sacrificial branches and try some trunk chops. I understand it will take years to get anything looking like much of a bonsai but I'm okay with that - I'm not in a rush and it will give me time to learn the practice of bonsai while my plants grow.

Anyway! To the point of my post - any recommendations on getting trunks to thicken besides what I'm planning? I've heard to plant them in the ground and also that you can get them to thicken in bonsai pots, but I plan to use net pots (to air trim the roots) and plant on a piece of tile to get the roots to spread out.

For what it is worth, I've learned of all the practices I plan to use from different you tube videos, so if anything I've said sounds crazy, please don't bite my head off! 🙃
 
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Likely you already know this, but if you want fast growth, put them in the ground for at least 2-3 years.

They all will grow in you hardiness zone, which I think is 6? (Please put this in your profile for future advice - double click your icon on top of the page).

Expect not a lot of growth the first year, but watch the trees carefully after that to help enhance your proposed design.

That said, please research each tree thoroughly before you dig. Site each carefully, do your ground prep, and investigate chicken wire or similar protection for your trees. I got several JBP and azaleas chawed by rabbits last year. The rabbitS didn’t like the JBP all that much, but sure loved the azaleas! Luckily those azaleas can be resilient, they are bursting with growth now... but no flowers this year.

good luck and please post photos as you decide to move forward.

cheers
DSD sends
 

Shibui

Masterpiece
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You can usually get fastest growth and thickening in the ground with most species. Larger grow pots will give reasonable results. Smaller pots and bonsai pots will yield slowest growth rates and thickening but will provide better control. Some of my best smaller bonsai have been grown in small pots. Takes many years but minimal scars and better taper and ramification. No way is best, just different ways to get to a result.
Mesh pots will air prune roots but I don't think it makes a difference where it counts, closer to the trunks. Manual root pruning is still the best root management tool to develop good nebari for bonsai. It is possible that mesh pots/colanders will give slightly better growth than standard plastic pots but I have not done trials. Mesh pots on benches in dry climates can be harder to maintain good moisture so growth could suffer unless you can maintain watering to compensate. Mesh pots in the ground can be useful to make digging easier but root pruning will still be necessary unless the mesh pot is quite small or the developing bonsai is large.

Each species will grow at different rates and require different management to maintain useful growth for future bonsai.
Ginkgo grows really slow. Be prepared to spend 20 years developing a ginkgo bonsai.
Most Pinus species do not bud on bare wood so we need to manage growth so there is always green needles to cut back to. Sacrifice branches are a common way to thicken developing pine trunks while managing others for more compact growth for the future bonsai.
JM will back bud so can be allowed to grow then chopped hard to reduce height and get a new leader for taper. I prune more each year or 2 rather than allowing the trunk to grow tall and thick. Seems to produce better taper and less scars than a single big chop.
Regular root pruning is the best way to develop superior nebari. Even with a tile you still need to check and manage roots every few years for good results.
 

Kubruceiii

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You can usually get fastest growth and thickening in the ground with most species. Larger grow pots will give reasonable results. Smaller pots and bonsai pots will yield slowest growth rates and thickening but will provide better control. Some of my best smaller bonsai have been grown in small pots. Takes many years but minimal scars and better taper and ramification. No way is best, just different ways to get to a result.
Mesh pots will air prune roots but I don't think it makes a difference where it counts, closer to the trunks. Manual root pruning is still the best root management tool to develop good nebari for bonsai. It is possible that mesh pots/colanders will give slightly better growth than standard plastic pots but I have not done trials. Mesh pots on benches in dry climates can be harder to maintain good moisture so growth could suffer unless you can maintain watering to compensate. Mesh pots in the ground can be useful to make digging easier but root pruning will still be necessary unless the mesh pot is quite small or the developing bonsai is large.

Each species will grow at different rates and require different management to maintain useful growth for future bonsai.
Ginkgo grows really slow. Be prepared to spend 20 years developing a ginkgo bonsai.
Most Pinus species do not bud on bare wood so we need to manage growth so there is always green needles to cut back to. Sacrifice branches are a common way to thicken developing pine trunks while managing others for more compact growth for the future bonsai.
JM will back bud so can be allowed to grow then chopped hard to reduce height and get a new leader for taper. I prune more each year or 2 rather than allowing the trunk to grow tall and thick. Seems to produce better taper and less scars than a single big chop.
Regular root pruning is the best way to develop superior nebari. Even with a tile you still need to check and manage roots every few years for good results.
Thank you very much, all great points and plenty of food for thought for me. I think I will throw them all either into the ground or into large pots. Also, based on your comments I think I'll just skip the net pots and trim the roots manually.
 

Kubruceiii

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Likely you already know this, but if you want fast growth, put them in the ground for at least 2-3 years.

They all will grow in you hardiness zone, which I think is 6? (Please put this in your profile for future advice - double click your icon on top of the page).

Expect not a lot of growth the first year, but watch the trees carefully after that to help enhance your proposed design.

That said, please research each tree thoroughly before you dig. Site each carefully, do your ground prep, and investigate chicken wire or similar protection for your trees. I got several JBP and azaleas chawed by rabbits last year. The rabbitS didn’t like the JBP all that much, but sure loved the azaleas! Luckily those azaleas can be resilient, they are bursting with growth now... but no flowers this year.

good luck and please post photos as you decide to move forward.

cheers
DSD sends
I had never considered pest protection, good call with the chicken wire. I assume it is fine to wire train in-ground trees, yes?
 
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You can and I have done some wire work on in ground azaleas. But mostly pruning to shape. The pines and foemina junipers I wired before I dug them in. It comes off this fall or next spring. Mostly the point is to grow them big and robust.
Cheers
DSD sends
 

Mikecheck123

Chumono
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So I ordered some small trees from sequoiatrees.com - a blue spruce, a piñon pine, a Japanese maple and a ginko biloba. None of them are very big and have not been trained for bonsai at all. I plan to initially grow them in some large net pots and to thicken the trunk I plan to grow some sacrificial branches and try some trunk chops. I understand it will take years to get anything looking like much of a bonsai but I'm okay with that - I'm not in a rush and it will give me time to learn the practice of bonsai while my plants grow.

Anyway! To the point of my post - any recommendations on getting trunks to thicken besides what I'm planning? I've heard to plant them in the ground and also that you can get them to thicken in bonsai pots, but I plan to use net pots (to air trim the roots) and plant on a piece of tile to get the roots to spread out.

For what it is worth, I've learned of all the practices I plan to use from different you tube videos, so if anything I've said sounds crazy, please don't bite my head off! 🙃
Tired: growing trunks.

Wired: collecting trunks.
 

Gert

Sapling
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Grow your trunks out and get some bigger material while you wait. Even in pots you'll see good results if you fertilize well and let shoots run.

Here is a JM that has only been container grown from a piece of material from Brent at Evergreen Gardenworks that arrived in a 4inch pot in 2015, a photo from 2017, and now in 2021. Sure you'd definitely see much faster growth in the ground. Just showing some pics to let you know what you're in for if you go with a container over 6 years time.

IMG_4199.JPG
Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 1.15.01 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 1.16.24 PM.png
 

Kubruceiii

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Grow your trunks out and get some bigger material while you wait. Even in pots you'll see good results if you fertilize well and let shoots run.

Here is a JM that has only been container grown from a piece of material from Brent at Evergreen Gardenworks that arrived in a 4inch pot in 2015, a photo from 2017, and now in 2021. Sure you'd definitely see much faster growth in the ground. Just showing some pics to let you know what you're in for if you go with a container over 6 years time.

View attachment 373768
View attachment 373769
View attachment 373770
That's pretty good growth and what I figured I might get with mine IF I'm lucky 🙃, but either way, good looking trunk, it's definitely growing well.
 

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