Spekboom a.k.a. Portulacaria Afra

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China
USDA Zone
10
#1
So, I got me this little guy. Now, how do I style it? How do I develop branches? How do I shape it into a nice little tree? IMG_20170520_172622.jpg
 

Anthony

Imperial Masterpiece
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#2
Fertilise for a month and then prune back to the first leaves ------ observe.
Use a 1/3 strength fertiliser mix into moist soil, once a week.
They like sun, but not to be kept.wet,

Take cuttings, practice on them not the mother shrub.
Good Day
Anthony
 

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
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Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
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#3
As Anthony said, you'll want to cut each branch back to the first pair of leaves and let it grow..... It'll push out 2 new shoots from the base of each remaining leaf, once you've got about 6-8 leaves, you can repeat the process. This will give you a bifurcating branch structure (each branch divides into 2) and you'll also get some new buds popping in other places too.
The only thing I'd do differently than Anthony is, I'd fertilize it much stronger...
And if you don't already know...do not over water it! In needs much less water than any other tree I know of. In order to make the roots grow, it needs to completely dry out between waterings.
I let mine dry until the leaves begin to show tiny lines (begin shriveling) then I hit it.
 

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
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Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
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#5
just.wing.it,

shriveling ----------------------------:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::)

We use earthenware pottery, drains away and evaporates to cool in full sun.

Good Day
Anthony
Yeah, well it's the earliest sign of shriveling....
You can see the line start to appear, like laugh lines on an old man's face.
 
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Location
AZ
USDA Zone
9
#7
20170520_065400-2268x3024.jpg
I water this one twice a day sometimes twice..cat liter mix. They grow like weeds.
 
Messages
480
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590
Location
China
USDA Zone
10
#10
Fertilise for a month and then prune back to the first leaves ------ observe.
Use a 1/3 strength fertiliser mix into moist soil, once a week.
They like sun, but not to be kept.wet,

Take cuttings, practice on them not the mother shrub.
Good Day
Anthony
I currently water it with aquarium water, so it gets a little bit if proper feeding each week.
I wedged some chopsticks between the branches to spread them out, so I'll add a new pic.
 
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Location
AZ
USDA Zone
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#11
I have heard on this forum you can not get cat litter in the US that can be used on bonsai before. I just stay out of the fray and pick this up at Petsmart. They had cheaper stuff at Wal-Mart but I have not seen it for awhile.
20170520_194825.jpg
 
Messages
480
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590
Location
China
USDA Zone
10
#12
I'm still just using potting soil and mixed some sand into it. I'll take it to my bonsai guy later to help me select the right pot. Anyways, after I spread out the main branches it looks like this...ready to start cutting once you smart people give the green light. IMG_20170521_105734.jpg
 

Anthony

Imperial Masterpiece
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#13
90 % 5 mm silica based gravel
10 % aged compost
Above by volume and very freely draining.

and the pot is porous earthenware.
Allows the shrub to be watered thrice a day.

Placement full sun and we have breezes.

The mother is about 20 years old.
Easy plant to look after.
Good Day
Anthony
 
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#14
I've been growing a PA for 4 years, have been pinching back and allowing it to just grow. I recently placed it in 100% pumice mix and have been watering it daily with an ebb and flow style automatic watering system with fertilizer (20-20-20) and hydrogen peroxide mix in a reservoir. It's in full sun in south west florida.

I know everyone has has different opinions on how to shape a tree but I need some direction as this is a new hobby for me. Below I've added a few pictures from various angles and a D-cell battery to show size, have a few of the droopy limbs tied up with some hemp yarn:

I need some direction/ideas how to get this to look more like a bonsai

Also do you think I'm watering too much using this system, wrong fertilizer, any advice will be appreciated.

20170603_091841.jpg 20170603_091851.jpg 20170603_091903.jpg 20170603_092130.jpg
 
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Location
AZ
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#15
Welcome! Looks like a nice healthy tree so I think your watering and fertilizing routine is good. Kinda hard to see the perspective but you tree looks a little tall. I know I try to keep them shorter. There is a ratio of trunk thickness to height if you are in to that. Also may want to try and put some movement in your trunk a little bend makes it more pleasing to the eye. And the canopy could be a little more compact...bring everything in a bit towards the trunk. There are others definitely more qualified to speak than myself but like you said we all have different styles. Good luck with your tree...on to the next.
 
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Location
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USDA Zone
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#18

ToddB

Seedling
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Western Australia
#19
I like the 1st and 5th ones in both posts. I know cuttings root ridiculously easy, but the foresty look doesn't really appeal to me all that much.
Thanks Kevin. Re the 'forest' look. In many instances it's a case of "now, just what can I do with all these leftover cuttings?...hmmm.... there's a spare pot sitting over there... I know what I'll do ! " :D
 

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