Serious about Bonsai this time

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Hello Bonsai Nut,
For years I have been interested about bonsai, had a few, but never the right conditions. Now that I live in a proper place with outside space, I am getting more serious about bonsai.
My plan is to buy a few cheap trees to learn, and grow seeds/propagate from cheap trees for the long run.
Trees I currently own:
- Chinese elms
- Ficus
- Boxwood (still in nursery pot)
- Fukien
- Adenium
- Maples (collected around a few weeks ago)
- Juniper

Seeds I have purchased/planted/in the fridge
- Pomegranate
- Cotoneaster
- Japanese maple
- Oak
- Olive
- Crape Myrtle
- Ficus
- Dwarf Umbrella
- Chinese elm

In the past I have tried seeds without much success, but it is relatively cheap so I am trying again. Any hint or advice would be appreciated, especially about the soil you have been successful with
Also I am planning for an Air layer of a red Japanese Maple. Nursery stock is too pricey, seeds are uncertain... so no choice. If you have an advice on air layering in zone 5b without being able to water the air-layer, that would be much appreciated

I will post some pictures when things grow!

Cheers
 

HorseloverFat

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Hello Bonsai Nut,
For years I have been interested about bonsai, had a few, but never the right conditions. Now that I live in a proper place with outside space, I am getting more serious about bonsai.
My plan is to buy a few cheap trees to learn, and grow seeds/propagate from cheap trees for the long run.
Trees I currently own:
- Chinese elms
- Ficus
- Boxwood (still in nursery pot)
- Fukien
- Adenium
- Maples (collected around a few weeks ago)
- Juniper

Seeds I have purchased/planted/in the fridge
- Pomegranate
- Cotoneaster
- Japanese maple
- Oak
- Olive
- Crape Myrtle
- Ficus
- Dwarf Umbrella
- Chinese elm

In the past I have tried seeds without much success, but it is relatively cheap so I am trying again. Any hint or advice would be appreciated, especially about the soil you have been successful with
Also I am planning for an Air layer of a red Japanese Maple. Nursery stock is too pricey, seeds are uncertain... so no choice. If you have an advice on air layering in zone 5b without being able to water the air-layer, that would be much appreciated

I will post some pictures when things grow!

Cheers
Greetings, wanderer! Glad the earthy tones associated with the Woody Dwarves’ “Siren Song” finally lured you in.
Glad you washed up here, on the banks of the Tiny Forest.

Pleasure to make your acquaintance!

(Are you in Upper Michigan?... or “the mainland” 🤣)

Soil inquiries get BONKERS ‘round “tiny tree folk”... most will recommend highly inorganic, small(er) particle size sifted out, good aggregate...ect. Everyone has there own preference...

For me.. my INORGANIC mix is 1:1 Diatomaceous Earth / Perlite.. “Laced” with Azomite and “impregnated” with Osmocote.. Cheap.. easy-to-obtain materials. And effective.

From there... I’ll mix in more organics for tree’s specific needs.

As far as the Nurseries being to pricey and seeds being uncertain.... your ability to source and locate material will grow with your experience..... I always recommend “wild collection”... but there are many specific online bonsai nurseries that grow nursery stock specifically for TinyTree endeavors.

Here’s just one.
 

Forsoothe!

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Look around your grounds for volunteer saplings. Free, lots of variety of type & size, almost endless yearly supply. If it shows some wood, it's a suspect. We can ID anything, -right, wrong or indifferent. Learn to collect seeds locally before spending on store-bought. Lots of nice Moms live in parks and industrial areas, along rural roads, RR lines and cemeteries. Look for trees that have leaves and forms that you admire.
 
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It is on the “mainland”! Just by Kalamazoo, 1h south of Grand Rapids
Regarding the soil I am interested in knowing what people use for seeds to germinate, you’re right the development and refinement soil topic is very... vigorous !

I have a few collected Maples, also collected some oaks but it doesn’t look like they will make it, and acorns haven’t shown success yet either!

i don’t know what azomite is, and DE is like turface right?
Seems close to what Nigel Saunders does if I’m not mistaken

Anyone aware of a bonsai club in south west Michigan? Kalamazoo seems to have one but their website doesn’t show much activity

thanks everyone
 

HorseloverFat

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It is on the “mainland”! Just by Kalamazoo, 1h south of Grand Rapids
Regarding the soil I am interested in knowing what people use for seeds to germinate, you’re right the development and refinement soil topic is very... vigorous !

I have a few collected Maples, also collected some oaks but it doesn’t look like they will make it, and acorns haven’t shown success yet either!

i don’t know what azomite is, and DE is like turface right?
Seems close to what Nigel Saunders does if I’m not mistaken

Anyone aware of a bonsai club in south west Michigan? Kalamazoo seems to have one but their website doesn’t show much activity

thanks everyone
I typically use UN-sifted DE mixed with 1:1peat/pine bark...

Something with smaller particulate size and a touch more water retentive (while still being free-draining) has always yielded my best, personal, results...

...a decent quality “potting soil” works acceptably, as well.. little perlite layer at the bottom.. sure.

🤓
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Greetings @Michigan Bonsai amd Welcome Aboard to BNut!

I'd encourage you to get multiple trees of one species in different stages of development. This will allow you to learn how to comprehensively care for that species rather than the piecemeal approach many of us folks begin with.

btw: Mostly I use 1:1:1 APL+ for conifers and 2:1:1 APL+ for deciduous, except for azaleas where 90/10% Kanuma/Pumice is used.

Looking forward to seeing your future projects!
cheers
DSD sends
 

leatherback

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Do not worry about soil for seeds. It is not important. Keep it on the dry side of moist, though never dry.
I find putting seeds in bags in the fridge a sure-fire way to get dead seeds and I only plant in fall, outside and let nature sort this stuff out for me.

Look into spring cuttings too.
 
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Thanks much
I might just go with perlite and potting mix for seeds
For trees in development I am thinking perlite or pumice, with potting mix or turface depending on if the tree like it drier or wetter
I have a lot of pumice that I gotta use, otherwise I’d go only with perlite
@Forsoothe! thanks for that, Kalamazoo club is closest. I am very tempted to go to the Meijer gardens bonsai expo
 
Messages
129
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Location
Portage, MI
USDA Zone
6A
Greetings @Michigan Bonsai amd Welcome Aboard to BNut!

I'd encourage you to get multiple trees of one species in different stages of development. This will allow you to learn how to comprehensively care for that species rather than the piecemeal approach many of us folks begin with.

btw: Mostly I use 1:1:1 APL+ for conifers and 2:1:1 APL+ for deciduous, except for azaleas where 90/10% Kanuma/Pumice is used.

Looking forward to seeing your future projects!
cheers
DSD sends
Are your trees still in development?
I thought I heard on a podcast from the writer of Bonsai frenezy that this mix would reduce/slow the tree development

Nigel Saunders uses turface and perlite, and I’d be more than content to have the same quality trees, so I’ll probably go with that since it fits my budget best
 
Messages
129
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132
Location
Portage, MI
USDA Zone
6A
Greetings @Michigan Bonsai amd Welcome Aboard to BNut!

I'd encourage you to get multiple trees of one species in different stages of development. This will allow you to learn how to comprehensively care for that species rather than the piecemeal approach many of us folks begin with.

btw: Mostly I use 1:1:1 APL+ for conifers and 2:1:1 APL+ for deciduous, except for azaleas where 90/10% Kanuma/Pumice is used.

Looking forward to seeing your future projects!
cheers
DSD sends
Are your trees still in development?
I thought I heard on a podcast from the writer of Bonsai frenezy that this mix would reduce/slow the tree development

Nigel Saunders uses turface and perlite, and I’d be more than content to have the same quality trees, so I’ll probably go with that since it fits my budget best
 

Tieball

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Look around your grounds for volunteer saplings. Free, lots of variety of type & size, almost endless yearly supply. If it shows some wood, it's a suspect. We can ID anything, -right, wrong or indifferent. Learn to collect seeds locally before spending on store-bought. Lots of nice Moms live in parks and industrial areas, along rural roads, RR lines and cemeteries. Look for trees that have leaves and forms that you admire.
I agree with this obsercation. It’s good advice, especially now that you have outdoor growing spaces, to obtain some native Michigan trees to add to your list. The trees that stay outdoors all year long...all weather.

American Elm is an excellent choice. Grows fast. Tolerates the forgotten watering. Best in full sun as much as you can give it. Handles drastic root pruning without skipping a beat.

I think you'll enjoy some trees that don’t require a weather shuffle. Consider some natives.
 

Forsoothe!

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Local Maples are not the best because the leaves don't reduce much. Red Maple (Acer rubrum) is worth the effort, but still is limited and hard to differentiate from Sugar Maple. Silver Maple is also troublesome. When you get more adventurous, Gee Farms, 14928 Bunkerhill Rd., Stockbridge, MI 49285 is 80 miles from you. The West Michigan Bonsai Club (of Grand Rapids) has a FaceBook page now instead of a website. The Meijer Show on May 8 & 9 has vendors and is must do for you. Take a friend!
 

Brad in GR

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Fellow mitten dweller!
I’m up in GR / west Michigan bonsai club has been primarily virtual, so I would consider joining. We had Bill Valavanis on a stream just last week! Seconded on @Forsoothe! mention of the all state show - plenty of trees to purchase - everything from collected material, to seedlings in the past and it looks like plenty of vendors even in a COVID year this time around.... I will be there Sunday, hopefully see you there!
(From Vicksburg, by the way! Portage is a nice spot!)
 

Brad in GR

Chumono
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American Elm is an excellent choice. Grows fast. Tolerates the forgotten watering. Best in full sun as much as you can give it. Handles drastic root pruning without skipping a beat.

I think you'll enjoy some trees that don’t require a weather shuffle. Consider some natives.
Could not agree more with the last sentence here. Jack pine would do fine in Kzoo as well - I’ve got a couple hundred seeds popping now!
 
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I convinced my wife to go, I have two young kids (3y old and a 2m old) but luckily my brother in law lives in EGR so I’ll drop them there if they don’t want to come

@Brad in GR ill try to shoot for Sunday too then, and since you’re 13 miles away, I’d love to visit your collection one day if you accept
In general pines aren’t my favorite but I should give it a try, at least to learn in case my tastes change!

@Forsoothe! thanks for the tip on GR club and the nursery, whenever my job takes me this way I’ll check it out
 

Tieball

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Yep, gotta find one around
Tons of maples though!
Once you locate an American Elm near you there are usually many small seedlings growing in between surrounding weeds. The seedlings might only be 5-6” tall....but they grow fast, very fast, once taken and watered.
 

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