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I'm totally new to bonsai. I did once have a mallsai that I of course killed in about an hour, other than that no experience at all. So I'm surfing the internet and I come across a picture of a Sharps Pygmy bonsai that I simply must have in my life. Down side, it is award winning and probably priceless. Hmm plan B: grow my own.

So I jumped the gun and bought 2 one year old Sharps Pygmies thinking that I would put them in a bonsai pot and get to work. I soon find out that a bonsai is not simply grown in a little pot and pruned to keep it small.

Am I understanding correctly that really my sharps needs to be in the yard growing until I deem that the trunks are the diameter I am looking for then I start chopping, tapering, pruning, root management and repotting?

But here is where my mind is blown….I could potentially buy like a 5 year old tree or shrub from the nursery and cut it down OR prune it into what I want!!?? What!!?? Really!!?? Is that how it really works – let it get like 3 or 4 feet tall, chop it to a nub and work with the re-growth?
 

Dan W.

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That's how it works :) even with your seedlings in the ground, you would let them grow tall in order to get the desired trunk diameter. It's generally a little more delicate than just whacking it back to a nub, but that's the main idea.

This is a link to another thread which walks through the whole process (it's a hawthorn, but the same concept: http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?5761-Collected-Hawthorn-History

You can also go here for a good sized pigmy already on its way: http://shop.brusselsbonsai.com/Details.cfm?ProdID=8614&category=15

Welcome to B-nut! :)
 

Dav4

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AND....being an Acer palmatum cultivar, I would think most Sharp's Pygmy stock is grafted (I know mine is)...this may likely play a role in your degree of success in developing this material.
 
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rockm

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That small bonsai aren't grown into big bonsai and bigger bonsai are created using larger trees cut down to smaller dimensions, is one of the biggest hurdles to clear in learning bonsai. The notion that bonsai are cute, special little trees carefully cultivated in small pots to become impressive old bonsai is a popular romantic myth.

The sooner you learn that using larger material can yield more impressive end results than fussing around with thumb-sized characterless saplings, the better.

As for sharps'--like many specialized cultivars of Japanese maples, it can be a bit more difficult than a plain old Japanese maple. Grafts are a problem, bad grafts an even bigger problem. Grafts done for landscape trees become plain ugly on bonsai. That said, some grafts are less noticeable than others. Can't tell which yours is without a picture...
 
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Hey Dan thanks for the links!! I know there is more to it than a chop I am just floored that a tree or shrub can handle such treatment.

Dan, they are grafted which I am a little unclear as to what that means in terms of growing it into actual stock. Could you elaborate or point me in the right direction to further reading?

Rockm – I will post pictures when I get home. Still not following why grafts make bad bonsai though.

Thanks by the way for your responses.
 

rockm

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"I will post pictures when I get home. Still not following why grafts make bad bonsai though."

Graft unions between the top (scion) and bottom (stock) on trees being sold for landscaping often have a "necked up" appearance, that is often, the scion is narrower than the trunk immediately below it, making the trunk look like a mismatched drainage pipe. This appearance rarely improves with age, mostly is gets progressively worse. Some grafts are better than others, though.

While the condition isn't all that noticeable when a tree is in your front yard or in a landscape, in bonsai it's a game ender for the most part.

Because a bonsai image is all about a "believable" lower third of a tree's trunk (the lower third of the trunk is usually a prime focal point for the rest of the tree and usually where the eye begins looking at a bonsai) an incongruity like a mismatched graft can make a world of difference.

FWIW, some grafts are done with bonsai in mind (and they cost a bit more than regular old landscape grafts). Grafts for bonsai are done on the root crown, that is, just where the trunk begins to rise off the roots. This makes any bulges less noticeable.
 
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Rockm - that makes sense, thank you. As soon as I get home I am going to have a look and post a pic.
 

dick benbow

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As aparticipant in koi and bonsai chat lines, it helps to know a person's location.

Around here when i need something older, i go get a permit and dig something legally that mother nature has had in the ground for a number of years. I've got some nice hemlock up in the mountains scoped out that I will get this fall just before they get snowed in ....mid to end of september.
 

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