Q's about new seedling

QuantumSparky

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I just hit the novice's jackpot with this find! This little guy was growing on top of cement slab, in between 2 bricks, off in a shaded part of my garage patio. I know it's not very good bonsai material but the root system (because it was growing on a flat surface) looks amazing for potting in a Bonsai pot. Tons of lateral growth with endless feeder roots, all very healthy.

Question time:

Am I correct in guessing this to be a Sycamore? There aren't really any of those around me though, so idk how a seed would have found its way back there.

After I've potted it in my mix (40/40/20 of pumice/clay/pine bark fines) should I avoid allowing it direct sun completely, or is it OK to leave it shaded for most of the day and then let the setting sun fall on it for 2 hours? The latter is pretty much where it's sitting currently. It's a bit early to have 'dug' him up, but I planned to put my propagation box exactly where he was so I didn't really want to wait for another month or two.

Also, and again I know it's not great Bonsai material, how would you style this tree? I'm planning on growing him straight as a board and doing a formal upright style.

Forgive the dog crap quality of the first picture. I didn't think to double check after taking it xD
20210705_141620.jpg20210705_141625.jpg
 

Redwood Ryan

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Howdy!

This looks like a Red Maple, not great bonsai material unfortunately. I wouldn't even stick this in a bonsai pot just yet, it needs several years of growing before you should consider styling it. I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I don't think this guy is ready for anything just yet.
 

QuantumSparky

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Howdy!

This looks like a Red Maple, not great bonsai material unfortunately. I wouldn't even stick this in a bonsai pot just yet, it needs several years of growing before you should consider styling it. I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I don't think this guy is ready for anything just yet.
I figured as much haha. I understand it needs time before anything can come of it, but stuff like this is always good practice for me. I had no experience with gardening or horticulture before starting this hobby so keeping stuff alive is my primary goal :p

In terms of your recommendation to not stick it in a bonsai pot just yet - is the reason because its a waste of a good pot since the tree won't be styled for a long while? Or is it because it needs a larger pot so it can bulk up and grow vigorously, and then over the course of years be root pruned back until it can fit into a proper bonsai pot?

I don't happen to have a good sized pot for this guy just yet. All my pots are taken by other seedlings but I'm planning to run to the hardware store and get a bunch of clay and plastic pots in different sizes. That's why he is in the bonsai pot at the moment.
 

Redwood Ryan

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I figured as much haha. I understand it needs time before anything can come of it, but stuff like this is always good practice for me. I had no experience with gardening or horticulture before starting this hobby so keeping stuff alive is my primary goal :p

In terms of your recommendation to not stick it in a bonsai pot just yet - is the reason because its a waste of a good pot since the tree won't be styled for a long while? Or is it because it needs a larger pot so it can bulk up and grow vigorously, and then over the course of years be root pruned back until it can fit into a proper bonsai pot?

I don't happen to have a good sized pot for this guy just yet. All my pots are taken by other seedlings but I'm planning to run to the hardware store and get a bunch of clay and plastic pots in different sizes. That's why he is in the bonsai pot at the moment.
The reason I don't recommend a bonsai pot is because that will restrict its growth. You want it in something much much bigger to allow for unrestricted growth. The ground would be your best option, if that was an option at all...
 

QuantumSparky

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The reason I don't recommend a bonsai pot is because that will restrict its growth. You want it in something much much bigger to allow for unrestricted growth. The ground would be your best option, if that was an option at all...
I'm not opposed to planting it in the ground so I'll keep that option in my mind. I've since moved it into a standard pot, but how big is "big enough"? Here is what I have it in currently. I'm assuming when you say "big" you mean like nursery pot size, almost as big as a 5-gal bucket. I do have some pots now that are perhaps twice as big as this one.

20210705_170951.jpg
I was planning on putting this one and others into my unheated garage for the winter to protect against freezing.
 

LittleDingus

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I'm not opposed to planting it in the ground so I'll keep that option in my mind. I've since moved it into a standard pot, but how big is "big enough"? Here is what I have it in currently. I'm assuming when you say "big" you mean like nursery pot size, almost as big as a 5-gal bucket. I do have some pots now that are perhaps twice as big as this one.

View attachment 384766
I was planning on putting this one and others into my unheated garage for the winter to protect against freezing.
If you want to keep that "nerabi", then "big" is something wider than you want the final nebari to be.

Several chains of thought here:

1) Grow the tree in a wide, shallow container. I use grow bags because they can be folded over easily which makes it easier to control the planting depth. Anderson flats are very popular...serve the same purpose. Keep the root volume flat and wide so the roots have to grow out and not down.

2) This might be more practical for seedlings like yours. Plant the tree on a tile. Generic 9" flooring tiles can be < $1.00 each. I use terra-cotta drip trays flipped upside down...usually 6" or 8" trays. If you go this route, the pot can be deeper. Plant the tree above the tile so that the tile and roots are 1-2" below the soil line. Basically this sounds exactly like how you found the tree to begin with :) Make sure the pot is wider than the tile be a few inches. Then the roots must stay flat until they hit the edges of the tile but then they can escape and help feed the tree while your nebari region is still nice and flat.

Any "deep" pot like the one you have the tree in now will allow the roots to dive down...when the hit the bottom, they will circle the pot.

All that said, now is not a good time of year to be moving trees from pot to pot. You can sometimes get away with it for baby trees like yours. But not always. But research these techniques further so you're ready when future opportunities arise :D
 

QuantumSparky

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If you want to keep that "nerabi", then "big" is something wider than you want the final nebari to be.

Several chains of thought here:

1) Grow the tree in a wide, shallow container. I use grow bags because they can be folded over easily which makes it easier to control the planting depth. Anderson flats are very popular...serve the same purpose. Keep the root volume flat and wide so the roots have to grow out and not down.

2) This might be more practical for seedlings like yours. Plant the tree on a tile. Generic 9" flooring tiles can be < $1.00 each. I use terra-cotta drip trays flipped upside down...usually 6" or 8" trays. If you go this route, the pot can be deeper. Plant the tree above the tile so that the tile and roots are 1-2" below the soil line. Basically this sounds exactly like how you found the tree to begin with :) Make sure the pot is wider than the tile be a few inches. Then the roots must stay flat until they hit the edges of the tile but then they can escape and help feed the tree while your nebari region is still nice and flat.

Any "deep" pot like the one you have the tree in now will allow the roots to dive down...when the hit the bottom, they will circle the pot.

All that said, now is not a good time of year to be moving trees from pot to pot. You can sometimes get away with it for baby trees like yours. But not always. But research these techniques further so you're ready when future opportunities arise :D
I'd heard of the tile method for planting in the ground but never thought to apply it to pots! That sounds like the perfect plan, now to find a suitable pot :) I'll probably just wait til spring to do that because I've handled this little guy a bunch already. If he survives winter then he gets a new tile and a new pot!
 

Shibui

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There is no problem transplanting small seedlings like this any time of year. Some protection from really hot sun but don't make it too shady or the leaves will adjust to low light then burn when you move it to more sun later.
Let it recover from transplant for now then plan properly for next stage.
There is currently nothing to 'style' It is still just a stick. You could put some bends in the trunk after it has recovered from transplant but it is always hard to decide what bends to make when you cannot even imagine what the tree will end up looking like in a few years. i build most deciduous bonsai by repeated grow and chop cycles. Pruning will help to give trunk taper as well as bends. Wiring alone gives bends but cannot make taper.
 

QuantumSparky

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There is no problem transplanting small seedlings like this any time of year. Some protection from really hot sun but don't make it too shady or the leaves will adjust to low light then burn when you move it to more sun later.
Let it recover from transplant for now then plan properly for next stage.
There is currently nothing to 'style' It is still just a stick. You could put some bends in the trunk after it has recovered from transplant but it is always hard to decide what bends to make when you cannot even imagine what the tree will end up looking like in a few years. i build most deciduous bonsai by repeated grow and chop cycles. Pruning will help to give trunk taper as well as bends. Wiring alone gives bends but cannot make taper.
Great pointer about the leaf burn after too much shade, I hadn't heard that advice before. I know it's just a stick currently but perhaps I can gently guide it to grow upright and straight as it matures. I'm not sure what style I'll end up with but I figure the best way to grow it is as straight as possible so I have a blank canvas to work with once it grows out more.
 

Shibui

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Most bonsai are grown with bends and curves in both trunks and branches but if you want straight then work toward straight.
 

QuantumSparky

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Most bonsai are grown with bends and curves in both trunks and branches but if you want straight then work toward straight.
I do prefer the idea of informal upright for most trees but I can always put bends in - taking them out is another matter
 

LittleDingus

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I do prefer the idea of informal upright for most trees but I can always put bends in - taking them out is another matter

The trunk will stiffen over time. You can't always put bends in.

As the trunk thickens, the bends do kinda come out. That is, on a toothpick thick branch, the bend will look dramatic. As the toothpick thickens, the curve start to "fill in" with branch and the branch takes on a less curvy appearance.
 

sorce

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Anything growing locally doesn't need any more protection than the ground. I find it detrimental in fact. Save the garage for cars, or kilns, or junk, or sales, or "the smoking section" during parties, or motorcycles, or benders, etc.

No reason to be in any kind of hurry. This thing just keeps getting better and better the slower it grows.


Sorce
 
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