Newly collected berberis

Jason

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I had been thinking about collecting this tree (bush) from a hedge in my front yard for about two years now. I Finally got around to it yesterday. I reduced the top growth by about 60% but I still feel I have a way to go. I'm wondering if I can keep going now or if I should let it rest for awhile. This species seems tough as nails but I don't want to kill it either. The root ball on this tree was super shallow and fibrous, although I'm sure some of the bigger roots got root pruned with my spade. I was almost tempted to pot it up into a bonsai pot. I've never collected anything that I would have even dreamed about putting into a pot right off the bat. It seems like usually they need as much root work as they do on the top. Thoughts?
 

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Jason

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I forgot dimensions. The base of this tree is about 4 inches and the height is currently about 14 inches. The variety is berberis thunbergii. The buds are just starting to break. I live in zone 8b.
 

DaveV

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Hi Jason, I'm not very familiar with this bush, but I would at least reduce down to the ends of the largest three branches. If it were mine I would even take off the lowest horizontal branch, all the way to the trunk.
 

Rick Moquin

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Lovely specimen. Cut to green lines and start your new branching
 

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davetree

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You can cut it back more, but I would leave some buds below each cut. Just my opinion from growing this species.
 

davetree

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I wouldn't cut off any of the old gnarly branches yet, you can always do it later. I would leave some stubs that have buds for your new leaders and branches. This has a lot of character and could be a very nice three trunked tree. How big is the trunk ?
 

RyanFrye

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WOW! What a nice piece of material. I don't think berberis grow well in my area but I've always wanted one. Good luck with this one :)
 

cquinn

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that first pic shows an obvious two line semi-cascade style. I would cut the left growing branch in that pic completely off. That will give you your basic trunk line, and you can go from there.
 

HotAction

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that first pic shows an obvious two line semi-cascade style. I would cut the left growing branch in that pic completely off. That will give you your basic trunk line, and you can go from there.

I completely agree. From that picture, you can notice the nice movement in both of the right branches. The branch on the left is very static, and doesn't flow with the rest of what you have going on there.

I really like this one, and imagine it will look great in a short period of time. Nice job!

Dave
 

davetree

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You may find this difficult to grow as a cascade due to the upright nature of the new shoots. It is not easy to wire, either. I think informal upright, keep all 3 trunks, my opinion.
 

Jason

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Thanks for all the feedback! Thats why I posted.

Ultimately, I decided barberry is a hedge plant, and thus apically dominant. I've never seen a barberry cascade (although the possibilities in this case are fairly obvious...and I'm sure its possible if your a glutton for punishment). While its a great idea this one will remain a three trunk informal upright unless that third trunk dies off. I'm not going to fight mother nature on this one ( I have enough on my plate). I'll save the cascade for the junipers, cotoneasters, winter jasmine...etc. I trimmed it back to about the green lines and will re-tool the ramification on the branches. Hopefully that third trunk will look less static. If it fails and I was wrong.....maybe I'll think about a cascade! Thanks for all the ideas! I'm excited and will post an update next winter.

Jason
 

Bonsai Nut

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that first pic shows an obvious two line semi-cascade style. I would cut the left growing branch in that pic completely off. That will give you your basic trunk line, and you can go from there.

I'm gonna go with cquinn on this one. It was what I thought when I originally saw the first photo. I think you need to lose the left branch to get a clear trunk line / design.

 

Si Nguyen

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I like this little tree. I would keep it just the way it is now, at least for another year or two.
What is your potting mix here Jason? Turface? Just wondering.
Si
 

Jason

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Hey Si,

All my pre-bonsai get 100% turface (MVP unsifted). It's readily available and the root growth has been exceptional. If they make it to bonsai status I might get more elaborate (add some bark, and lava (previously granite)). I reserve elaborate sifted soil mixes for the real thing. I fertilize and water heavily.

Jason

Jason
 

Si Nguyen

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Hi Jason, that's what I thought. I used to use 100% turface before too. It is very good and safe for new bare-rooted trees. But in my experience, it is only good for about one year. It is too dry for my climate. The trees will slow down after one year. You will notice weaker buds and shorter , slower growth of branches, especially on decidous trees. The foliage burns easier in hot weather also. The hair roots don't grab onto the smooth hard flat surface of the Turface . The Turface particle is not porous like lava rocks or pumice or akadama. I noticed that after 2 years, my trees do better with a slightly more organic mix.
Good luck to your tree.
Si
 

mcpesq817

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Hi Jason, that's what I thought. I used to use 100% turface before too. It is very good and safe for new bare-rooted trees. But in my experience, it is only good for about one year. It is too dry for my climate. The trees will slow down after one year. You will notice weaker buds and shorter , slower growth of branches, especially on decidous trees. The foliage burns easier in hot weather also. The hair roots don't grab onto the smooth hard flat surface of the Turface . The Turface particle is not porous like lava rocks or pumice or akadama. I noticed that after 2 years, my trees do better with a slightly more organic mix.
Good luck to your tree.
Si

To follow on what Si said, I noticed that with a 100% turface mix, if you use organic fertilizers, you end up getting a lot of caking of the particles over time, and as a result, you'll have areas where the rootball will remain dry no matter how much you water. I've found that mixing turface with other components seems to alleviate this problem.
 

Si Nguyen

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To follow on what Si said, I noticed that with a 100% turface mix, if you use organic fertilizers, you end up getting a lot of caking of the particles over time, and as a result, you'll have areas where the rootball will remain dry no matter how much you water. I've found that mixing turface with other components seems to alleviate this problem.

I have noticed the same too. I now mix it too. It is ok to use 100% turface for newly collected bare-rooted trees though, but 100% pumice is even better I think, if one can get pumice.

The semi-cascade design by BNut is pretty good! That's not a bad way to go with this tree I think.
 

cquinn

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Thanks for all the feedback! Thats why I posted.

Ultimately, I decided barberry is a hedge plant, and thus apically dominant. I've never seen a barberry cascade (although the possibilities in this case are fairly obvious...and I'm sure its possible if your a glutton for punishment). While its a great idea this one will remain a three trunk informal upright unless that third trunk dies off. I'm not going to fight mother nature on this one ( I have enough on my plate). I'll save the cascade for the junipers, cotoneasters, winter jasmine...etc. I trimmed it back to about the green lines and will re-tool the ramification on the branches. Hopefully that third trunk will look less static. If it fails and I was wrong.....maybe I'll think about a cascade! Thanks for all the ideas! I'm excited and will post an update next winter.

Jason

Pines, Junipers, and maples are too but they make great semi-cascade and cascade bonsai. You would be doing this material a diservice to style it any other way. The material dictates the style, not the artist. It wants to become semi-cascade just from the observation of the way its groing now. The new foliage will grow up, and when you trim it you'll have nice pads. There is no such thing as a three trunk informal upright. Informal uprights only have one trunk line. The reason is your eyes aren't all over the place, and there is an artistic effect. You're trying to make a hedge look like an artistic impression of a tree. Keep all three, and it will look like a bush 20 yrs from now.
 

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