Recently introduced evergreen cultivars with good potential

ThornBc

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As the name suggests, this thread is about some new/little known cultivars of evergreen species which show better potential to be trained as bonsai than better known ones. A common issue is leaf size, but I've recently acquired some with particularly small leaves. Obviously, these might be seen as 300-year-projects or a waste of time, but I like the idea of experimenting with less exploited plants and possibly record one day the first instance of their successful use as bonsai. Why not dream?
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This one is a Photinia x fraseri marketed as 'Chico' here in the UK. Also known as 'Br2011'. It's of fairly recent development and decidedly smaller than the well known 'Little Red Robin', with nice small foliage as you can see in the photo. It's supposed to grow fairly compact and not exceed 1m/3ft as a landscape or potted plant, but it's still so uncommon here I have yet to see any around. The usual vigour of photinias is definitely reduced, so thickening of the trunk will be slow, but it buckbuds profusely as the larger relatives, and, knowing photinias' beahviour, I think it has potential for nice ramification (which I won't have to worry about for the next couple of...decades? ahah..). Having the tree flower and even fruit and one point would be a great bonus.
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Excuse the bathtub-side picture, but at least the small tiles might give you a sense of scale for the leaves on this Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance', or 'Blafra', a newish hybrid cultivar with a long flowering season and compact size of under 1m/3ft. It only transited through my bathroom before I took it to my plot. It's marketed as hardy to -15°C, so I want to see how many of the older leaves will be retained throughout winter, and so far they are all still on after a frost of about -9°C. Daphne species don't seem to be commonly used as bonsai, but they budback and generally thicken reasonably quickly in pots. This new cultivar also has very short internodes, a general habit more lending to bonsai than others and an overall look which is quite similar to that of an azalea. The pot in the picture is the same size as in the picture above.


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Still with bathroom mosaic-sized tiles for scale, this is Camellia 'Fairy Blush', not your usual sasanqua. Raised from seed in the late 80's in New Zealand by Mark Jury, it has very small leaves and tiny, beautiful single flowers. It's considered to be an hybrid of C. lutchuensis and C. pitardii; as per a trend started in the 60's, C. lutchuensis was often used for crossing to introduce scent into new cultivars. I have removed all flower buds when I separated the several small plants that came together in one pot, they were fully formed and ridiculously small for a camellia, beautifully proportioned to the small foliage. All pots pictured are the same size again, as above.

I'd like to see others if anybody has something for this thread :)
 
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Millard B.

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I just joined the forum last night, killing some time surfing as it starting raining with the passing cold front. Here in S. Florida in USDA Zone 10 I keep a lookout for different plant material to work with that will grow here. While traveling back home in 2018 from buying a RV in Oregon in Chico Ca. I bought an old San Jose Juniper that shows good potential and is on it's second year in the heat. It propagates easily from small cuttings. I picked up a little known one gallon Juniper from Taiwan that is just now starting to grow, just put it into a ten gallon squat pot and letting it grow for a few years, who knows? I'm setting up a mist house to grow two little known plants that have much potential, first is Divi-divi (Libidibia coriaria) from Aruba, an island just of Venezuela, it has 1.5" long compound leaves, it develops a rather rough bark. Another is Xylosma bahamensis (Xylosma bolivianum Sleumer), a rare Fla. native that is common in the Bahamas, it is propagated from small tip cuttings or airlayering. It has a 3/8" long shiny pointed tip smooth edged ovoid leaf. Thirdly I'm experimenting with Quailberry (Crossopettalum ilicifolium), another Fla. native from the limestone Rocklands near Miami. Reported to be very long-lived, normally growing flat on the ground, has 3/8" to 1/2" long pointy holly-like leaves and produces round fruit smaller than a pencil eraser that becomes fire-engine red. Most everyone who visits my bonsai collection remarks about it.
Stay Well, Be Safe,
Millard
 

cbroad

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@ThornBc
Cool plants!

I had never heard of that variety of photinia and the Camellia, but have some experience with that variety of daphne.

I'm not sure how green your thumb is, but all of these plants can be finicky or troublesome in some respects, so these may need some extra care.

Over here, photinia are disease and insect prone, so be diligent with your horticulture.

Daphne in general are finicky. In my area, anything below zone 6b/7 could see significant dieback or death. Make sure you protect the roots. In my experience odora is the most finicky, but cneorum, burkwoodii, and transatlantica fair better in my area. Foliage protection may be a good idea for any dry cold air during the winter months. All Daphnes need well drained soil; they will resent mucky, waterlogged situations.

I am not familiar with that hybrid of Camellia, but knowing camellias, they may need some added protection for their roots and foliage during the winter.

Good luck with these, keep us posted!
 

ThornBc

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@ThornBc
Cool plants!

I had never heard of that variety of photinia and the Camellia, but have some experience with that variety of daphne.

I'm not sure how green your thumb is, but all of these plants can be finicky or troublesome in some respects, so these may need some extra care.

Over here, photinia are disease and insect prone, so be diligent with your horticulture.

Daphne in general are finicky. In my area, anything below zone 6b/7 could see significant dieback or death. Make sure you protect the roots. In my experience odora is the most finicky, but cneorum, burkwoodii, and transatlantica fair better in my area. Foliage protection may be a good idea for any dry cold air during the winter months. All Daphnes need well drained soil; they will resent mucky, waterlogged situations.

I am not familiar with that hybrid of Camellia, but knowing camellias, they may need some added protection for their roots and foliage during the winter.

Good luck with these, keep us posted!
The flowers on that Daphne smell great, don't they?? Anyway, yeah I'm a trained horticulturist, the pots the plants are in are all a quick fix until spring, the camellias and photinias are inside a wintering shelter and the Daphne so far is not minding the frost at all. Here D. rubra is the most common probably, it's deciduous, has fleshy roots too and is absolutely hardy in my experience, but not great for bonsai I think.
 

ThornBc

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I just joined the forum last night, killing some time surfing as it starting raining with the passing cold front. Here in S. Florida in USDA Zone 10 I keep a lookout for different plant material to work with that will grow here. While traveling back home in 2018 from buying a RV in Oregon in Chico Ca. I bought an old San Jose Juniper that shows good potential and is on it's second year in the heat. It propagates easily from small cuttings. I picked up a little known one gallon Juniper from Taiwan that is just now starting to grow, just put it into a ten gallon squat pot and letting it grow for a few years, who knows? I'm setting up a mist house to grow two little known plants that have much potential, first is Divi-divi (Libidibia coriaria) from Aruba, an island just of Venezuela, it has 1.5" long compound leaves, it develops a rather rough bark. Another is Xylosma bahamensis (Xylosma bolivianum Sleumer), a rare Fla. native that is common in the Bahamas, it is propagated from small tip cuttings or airlayering. It has a 3/8" long shiny pointed tip smooth edged ovoid leaf. Thirdly I'm experimenting with Quailberry (Crossopettalum ilicifolium), another Fla. native from the limestone Rocklands near Miami. Reported to be very long-lived, normally growing flat on the ground, has 3/8" to 1/2" long pointy holly-like leaves and produces round fruit smaller than a pencil eraser that becomes fire-engine red. Most everyone who visits my bonsai collection remarks about it.
Stay Well, Be Safe,
Millard
Thanks for sharing some plants I didn't know! I'd like to see photos whenever you want to show them off :)
 

ThornBc

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@cbroad actually just realised D. rubra I mentioned is D. odora var. rubra, odd that it's so finicky there, because here in Scotland it surprises me with how resilient it is! We had some coming into the place I work once, and for some reason it was in terrible clay mix. Through one year a lot of that had escaped the pots, fleshy big roots where exposed, as well as surface roots. They just kept growing flowering, fruiting, made it easily through several -10C snaps like all was fine! So yeah it seems hardier here but still not great for bonsai, until somebody proves otherwise. Do you think X transatlantica could do better as I do?
 

cbroad

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The fragrance of odora is hard to beat! The other species are fragrant but not as much as odora in my opinion, but still nice!

I have never heard of the cultivar rubra, I usually only see the species and aureo-marginata here. What makes it red, maybe the flower buds in late winter? A red leafed one would be really cool to see.

some reason it was in terrible clay mix.
Same thing here unfortunately... They are hard to transplant, so they are usually field grown, dug up with the clay soil, and plopped in a pot; which is not a very good thing considering how clay acts in a container...

And they are terribly expensive here, around $80 for a 3 gallon, usually less than a 12"x12" plant...

It might just be my area that isn't that conducive for odora. We usually have mild winters, but then we'll have a harsh one that will take a few out. They do better around here in the city, probably because of the wind protection from the buildings and radiant heat from all of the concrete.

Do you think X transatlantica could do better as I do?
I think it would, especially if your odoras do well there too. Plus their leaves are smaller than odora, so for bonsai purposes they are better in my opinion. And they bloom longer!

You should check out Rock Daphne (cneorum), much smaller leaves and smaller growing.
 
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ThornBc

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Rubra simply has reddish buds! And that's very expensive...at the garden centre where I work we sell D. cneorum as an alpine/rockery plant and I've never really looked at it as having bonsai potential tbh. D. mezereum is another with great scent, thickens well, hardier than I expected, but has such an unfortunate habit for bonsai, so I wouldn't even try it I think! X transatlantica still the best candidate ;)
 

Shibui

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Daphne are finicky here too. They grow well for a few years and then suddenly die for no apparent reason. I hope the x transatlantica would show some hybrid vigour and perform better but it does not seem any stronger than D. odora. Growth habit is a little more open so getting good ramification could be a challenge.

The smaller camellias tend to be very slow growing. I have a few C. lutchuensis varieties and hybrids but all are still skinny sticks years after planting in the garden. They also have a very open growth habit but I haven't tried regular trimming to try to get better density and ramification.

At one stage I tried lots of smaller growing and dwarf selections of a number of species. Years later they were all still skinny little sticks so I decided dwarf varieties were not all that great for bonsai and went back to growing the normal larger species and doing the work to refine them. I'm sure many of the dwarf and compact plants being produced for home gardens now would produce great bonsai eventually but I just don't have that much time and patience.
 

ThornBc

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@Shibui thanks for the heads up! I remember seeing a photo of a fully grown camellia 'Fairy Blush' and I now wonder how long that could have taken....as long as I still have enough space I guess I'll keep these and give them a chance
 

Yamabudoudanshi

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Not recently introduced but I've never seen anyone on here with one.
Cape Jasmine Gardenia are incredibly popular in Japan: Mostly as shohin trees. They are called "Kuchinashi". I have a big shrub in a pot I planning on hacking way soon. They will literally back-bud from anywhere too. Many people grown them in a clump/kabudachi style. They have wonderful sweet smelling white flowers and also an orange pineapple shaped fruit that develops into winter.

I've have success with air layers and cuttings supposedly take well. You can also grow them from seed apparently.

The only thing is that they don't tolerate temperatures much lower than freezing so they are better suited to warmer climates or those with access to a greenhouse in the winter.
 

ThornBc

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@Yamabudoudanshi I actually had one for a couple of years and kept it indoors on my windowsill, but it just didn't seem to settle and hated my living room in winter. It still flowered and I loved the scent, but eventually it succumbed :(
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@ThornBc - interesting topic. Thank you for pointing out some interesting cultivars. The Camelia 'Fairy Blush' in particular sparked my interest. Fragrance in a Camellia is the trait that would make them worth the effort to grow in my zone 5b climate. They are "too much work" without the bonus of fragrant flowers, as most Camellia are only hardy to zone 7, meaning that in my climate I have to struggle with keeping them happy indoors over winter.

In general miniature and dwarf varieties as bonsai are alternately highly sought after by some and avoided like a plague by others. Key attraction is small leaves and short internodes. Key problem is you need growth, to be able to style and train a tree. A tree with a growth rate less than 2 inches per year will simply take forever to develop as a trained tree. Unless you are lucky enough to find a really old specimen in a garden somewhere, often you are waiting 5 years for what the normal form might do in one year. But if you are patient, or have a large enough collection that a tree can be allowed to just grow for a number of years between styling efforts, the miniatures and dwarfs can be quite rewarding.

@Millard B. -
Divi-divi - Libidibia coriaria, its older botanical genus names were Caesalpinia and Poinciana. The members of Caesalpinia and Poinciana are difficult bonsai subjects because they do not develop dense ramification, and for most the compound leaves are too large. Though size of the compound leaves for Libidibia sounds small enough to avoid the issues with its cousins in Caesalpinia and Poinciana. The few images of the flowers of Libidibia I found were not particularly nice, which is too bad, as flamboyant flowers are the only reasons people try to grow the cousins, Poinciana and Caesalpinia.

The Xylosma bahamensis sounds interesting. The leaf is nice and small. It is in the Malpighiales order of plants. A couple other Malpighia are common as bonsai, Malpighia glabra, or Barbados cherry, and Malpighia coccigera - the Singapore holly are both used as bonsai. It should work reasonably well for bonsai. Definitely worth experimenting with.

The Crossopetalum ilicifolium - this is the most interesting of the species you mentioned. I really like the foliage and the prostrate habit. I imagine it could be used for bonsai much like Cotoneaster. Interesting.

My favorite is Pinus banksiana 'Chippewa', a dwarf broom of Jack pine. It has fairly short needles, and is fairly dense. Jack pine is only good for cold weather bonsai artists. It does not do well in warmer climates. Here in zone 5b I can leave it outside just set on the ground for winter. I was lucky enough to find a specimen that was pretty old, probably 10 or more years old, at a nursery, caught a sale, it was not expensive. Fortunately this cultivar does seem to grow, but not much more than a couple inches per year. It is quite upright left to its own, much like a dwarf alberta spruce, but once the branches are wired out and down, it does hold its shape after 2 or 3 years of wire. I think in a few years I will eventually remove the lowest whorl of branches.

As purchased in 2016
IMG_20160814_170410_757 (2019_10_20 19_42_16 UTC).jpg

in need of wiring out in May 2020

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Note how small the needles are

IMG_20170607_153144717 (1) (2019_10_20 19_42_16 UTC).jpg
 

ThornBc

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@Leo in N E Illinois thanks for adding to this thread! Out of the plants I mentioned I am most interested in the camellia too, but the photinia could do well, although it will never have a large trunk. I do intend to keep them all for however many years I'll have space for and I'll manage to keep them alive and maybe we'll see :) The pine is really nice. I've seen P. banksiana before, but not that cultivar.
 

Carol 83

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Fragrance in a Camellia is the trait that would make them worth the effort to grow in my zone 5b climate. They are "too much work" without the bonus of fragrant flowers, as most Camellia are only hardy to zone 7, meaning that in my climate I have to struggle with keeping them happy indoors over winter.
Leo, I have a Camellia arriving today (impulse purchase and Christmas giftcard) I was thinking of putting it out in the garage with the other stuff, but sounds like you think it would be better off inside until spring? Sorry for mucking up you thread @ThornBc .
 

Carol 83

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@Carol 83 don't worry :) if you want, show it, what cultivar is it? I have a few very young ones
Thanks, it is a sasanqua. Unfortunately, even coming Fed-Ex it is delayed and didn't arrive today. :(
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Leo, I have a Camellia arriving today (impulse purchase and Christmas giftcard) I was thinking of putting it out in the garage with the other stuff, but sounds like you think it would be better off inside until spring? Sorry for mucking up you thread @ThornBc .
I'm not sure. I have run them indoors, for winter. Some success, but currently all my camellias are dead, so I have not had long term success. They have a tendency to flower autumn, winter or early spring. Indoors you have a better chance of seeing flowers. A new January arrival from "down south" would not be adapted for cold, they like winter in the 30's to 50's F. (3 to 10 C) Most are winter hardy to zone 7a or 6b, so your garage would be fine if it had an autumn to adapt to the occasional cold. Flower buds while tight, no petal color showing, are cold tolerant to zone 7a. But once color starts peaking out, the flower buds are more tender, I would protect from temps below 27 F or -2 C.
 

Carol 83

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I'm not sure. I have run them indoors, for winter. Some success, but currently all my camellias are dead, so I have not had long term success. They have a tendency to flower autumn, winter or early spring. Indoors you have a better chance of seeing flowers. A new January arrival from "down south" would not be adapted for cold, they like winter in the 30's to 50's F. (3 to 10 C) Most are winter hardy to zone 7a or 6b, so your garage would be fine if it had an autumn to adapt to the occasional cold. Flower buds while tight, no petal color showing, are cold tolerant to zone 7a. But once color starts peaking out, the flower buds are more tender, I would protect from temps below 27 F or -2 C.
It's coming from PA. It may be dead already. It was supposed to arrive Wednesday, then Thursday. The tracking # showed it was delivered yesterday, but no one knows where. It's not at my house. :mad::(
 

onlyrey

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I'm not sure. I have run them indoors, for winter. Some success, but currently all my camellias are dead, so I have not had long term success. They have a tendency to flower autumn, winter or early spring. Indoors you have a better chance of seeing flowers. A new January arrival from "down south" would not be adapted for cold, they like winter in the 30's to 50's F. (3 to 10 C) Most are winter hardy to zone 7a or 6b, so your garage would be fine if it had an autumn to adapt to the occasional cold. Flower buds while tight, no petal color showing, are cold tolerant to zone 7a. But once color starts peaking out, the flower buds are more tender, I would protect from temps below 27 F or -2 C.
Leo, Sorry to hear about the Camellias. What zone are you in ?
 

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