Seeking Help planning/shaping Hawaiian Umbrella Tree

Just Rosie

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Georgia, USA
Hello all,

I'm still very new to bonsai, and shaping a tree is something I just do not understand yet. I found some very helpful sources on this site for basic shaping (ie a triangle of foliage), but I guess I'm not very imaginative. I have this Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai that's more of a mallsai, but I still think he's absolutely gorgeous. I've had him about a year, after purchasing him infested with aphids and black sooty mold. He was accidentally defoliated when I was treating him, but his leaves are back and I think he looks pretty good (for a plant). He's lost some of his HUGE aerial roots, but there seem to be more appearing. ANYWAY, sorry! I've posted all the sides I can think of to show off this tree. I'm not planning to do anything immediately, but I wanted some more experienced opinions on what they would do with this guy. I don't even really know where I want the front to be. If you see any "gooey" spots on branches/trunk, that is pruning paste where I recently clipped off the dead branches/aerial roots.

Let me know what y'all think! I'm completely open to suggestions. While I adore this tree, all of my current "bonsai" are pretty much mallsai. I'm ok with that bc I want to practice on these guys before investing in a really nice tree. Sorry for rant!!

PS, excuse the clutter, I'm in the midst of repotting maintaining my house plants. If the photos aren't good representatives, let me know and I will try again!



Nonsense Rascal
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Berwyn, Il
Your biggest difficulty may be the "closed forms" present in the "trunks". You have D's, triangles, and arrowheads!

I'd throw it in a wider pot and try to get those trunks closer together.

Or try closing the gaps with new aerial roots.

Them baby shoots at the base are so cute!


Michael P

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Dallas, Texas, AHS heat zone 9
These are great trees for beginners because they are just about bullet proof, as you have learned. Yours looks very healthy now. In training or shaping you are limited to grow-and-clip technique. They don't respond well to wire.

Your first challenge is to decide how to deal with the chaotic trunks and/or stilt roots. You probably will want to simplify them so that the lines are more harmonious. But that doesn't need to happen right away. My suggestion is to keep it healthy over the winter. When it goes back outside next spring and is growing strongly. you can cut it back drastically. This should give you lots of new low shoots to work with. You can see one at the base of the largest trunk already. Let them grow for a while, then pick the best placed ones to develop.

Show us the tree in late spring or early summer next year before you do the drastic cut-back.

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