Started growing stuff in the ground today

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#42
I've got something similar in the UK, I put a load in the ground at the same time. I found that Tridents out-grow Field Maples! But they are pretty close either way, you can regard them as more or less the same. I learnt a few things:

- They double their trunk thickness every year, at least when small. 6mm start > 12mm Y1 > 24mm Y2 (and so on I assume).
- Chop them LOW to start the taper. Don't forget the Nebari isn't on the surface, I reckon 1-2" is about right..
- Weeds/grass are a BIG problem, you can't strim/mow any more and you can't hoe the ground without cutting tree roots too.
- I used "chipped trees inc leaves" (not plain wood chip) mulch and they more or less ground layer themselves in the stuff, they love it! And weeds can't get through. Has to be a thick layer...advantages and disadvantages.
- You may as well ground layer every tree, skip the tiles maybe? Ring-barking is too harsh, wire gets swallowed, I'm thinking steel car hose clips now....!!!
- Dig and root prune every 2-3 years or you'll get low numbers of long straight thick roots, you want high numbers of smaller ones - also lets you remove any growing above or below the nebari before they become an issue.
- It's FAR easier to wire the whips in the pot, then put them in the ground with existing movement, only adds a few months out of the ground so you can remove the wire but saves time on your knees trying to see what you're doing!
- Don't get side tracked thinking about branches. All you're probably growing in most cases is the thick lower trunk, then an angle change and the middle section, then one more change and the upper thinnish part. After that the apex and all branches are created in a pot!
- Plant at an angle (you got that one already)
- Plant in the SUN, as long as you can water them during year one.

That's all mainly based on first hand experience, plus some Bonsai Today info.
 
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Pulderbos, Belgium
USDA Zone
8b
#43
So, since nobody liked what I did last time let's see what y'all have to say about this. No tiles this time :p

I ordered a bunch of rootbags and put a few Japanese Maples, a Linden and a Mugo Pumilio in the ground today.

4 Japanese Maples I started growing from seed in 2017 and a 3 year old Tilia Cordata:

P1050027.JPG

I had to stop by a nursery to pick up some stuff this morning and bought this €5.95 Mugo Pine while I was there...

P1050028.JPG

Maple in rootbag...

P1050032.JPG

Rootbag in the ground...

P1050033.JPG

Who can spot all 6 rootbags?

P1050034.JPG
 
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NE Florida
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9a
#44
I'm not an advocate of tiles in the ground. I have seen trees with roots ruined by growing around the tile and becoming a claw. Also I think that bonsai is a hobby that requires certain skills for certain things.

For instance.. ( OK some of you avert your eyes cause I'm gonna be a bully again). I tend to look at bonsai from a best there is POV. I feel that doing anything in life should be the best you can afford and the best you can do. Thats POV remember. Now, as far as ground growing, it takes as much or probably more skill as a bonsai artisan to grow something from nothing as it does to just buy a good piece of raw material and put branches and a canopy on it. If you can't make a "REAL BONSAI" with raw material, why grow something in the ground to become REAL BONSAI with out the skills to get it there.

Trust me, ground growing is not all that its cracked up to be. The picture I posted had twenty tridents in it and I only managed to find three that I wanted to waste my time on. The rest were not to par, you can see in the foto's. Anyone have any idea how much work is required to keep twenty tridents growing in the ground in full sun with branches growing to 1.5 inches thick and 7 to 9 feet long? Roots to match?

Now if you are good and a fast learner, your skills may develop faster than your material and what you thought you started 5 years ago is crap now. These are just things to chew on. I don't wish to change anyone's mind on growing material in the ground, I just want people to know what to expect and plan for the future. It's not as easy as it seems.
Eh if you hack it back enough, drive a lawnmower over it, let your kids trample it, shoot it with a shotgun, start an ant colony in it etc sooner or later it will grow into SOMETHING interesting.
 
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Slovakia, Central Europe
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8?
#45
So, since nobody liked what I did last time let's see what y'all have to say about this. No tiles this time :p

I ordered a bunch of rootbags and put a few Japanese Maples, a Linden and a Mugo Pumilio in the ground today.

4 Japanese Maples I started growing from seed in 2017 and a 3 year old Tilia Cordata:

View attachment 228414

I had to stop by a nursery to pick up some stuff this morning and bought this €5.95 Mugo Pine while I was there...

View attachment 228415

Maple in rootbag...

View attachment 228416

Rootbag in the ground...

View attachment 228417

Who can spot all 6 rootbags?

View attachment 228418
I may be wrong but the purpose of rootbags is to do what they call "root air pruning". That means when tips of the roots escape (through openings in the fabric - similar to collanders) it dries out which promotes growing side roots further up (closer to trunk). In the end this results in very dense system of fine roots. This can be even improved by using sharp, grainy, anorganic substrate such pumice, ...
Now what you did seems to defeat all of the potential advantages. The roots will escape the rootbags and grow further and thicker. There will not be much forcing them to divide into fine short feeder roots. You seem to be using common soil as a substrate as well.

I bought few of those rootbags myself but plan to use them with anorganic substrate and not to put them in the ground to utilize their main function. It could be done with common soil as well I guess.
 
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Location
MD
USDA Zone
7a
#46
I may be wrong but the purpose of rootbags is to do what they call "root air pruning". That means when tips of the roots escape (through openings in the fabric - similar to collanders) it dries out which promotes growing side roots further up (closer to trunk). In the end this results in very dense system of fine roots. This can be even improved by using sharp, grainy, anorganic substrate such pumice, ...
Now what you did seems to defeat all of the potential advantages. The roots will escape the rootbags and grow further and thicker. There will not be much forcing them to divide into fine short feeder roots. You seem to be using common soil as a substrate as well.

I bought few of those rootbags myself but plan to use them with anorganic substrate and not to put them in the ground to utilize their main function. It could be done with common soil as well I guess.
That was my thought as well, that grow bags, collanders, and general "rootmaker" style pots had 2 primary benefits: air root pruning as you described, along with better aeration, by way of not being in the ground and allowing more air penetration than a standard pot.
 
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Ithaca, NY
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#48
Telperion farms grows all their stock in root CONTROL bags which are planted in the ground just like Fonz did. Now you wouldn’t want to use the type of root bag used for air pruning I don’t think, I’m not sure. The root control bags don’t let the roots escape into the ground at all besides some very fine feeder roots possibly. Good lookin @Fonz !
 
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Portland, OR
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#49
Driftwood Bonsai in Southwest Oregon has also been successfully using root control bags like this. Telperion’s experience with this process started around 2005.
 
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CA
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#50
Be careful, I've seen nice trees with no roots due to this technique. I suspect you better not have organics in the bag.
 
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Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
#52
We used root control bags like these to grow advanced trees years ago. The bags are meant to be planted in the ground as Fonze has done. They don't work by air pruning like rocket pots. They work by constricting the roots. Thin feeder roots can grow through the mesh and get nutrients from the surrounding soil but as they thicken the bag constricts the root until it dies outside the bag. Meanwhile many more are penetrating through to feed the tree.
When the trees are lifted and removed there are hundreds of swollen lumps at the ends of the roots which were constricted but many more root tips ready to grow out when the tree is planted in the ground.

I see that some respected nurseries are using these root control bags to grow trees for bonsai but I don't think they produce the best roots for bonsai. Maybe great for mass production with low costs but like most mass production there are compromises. There is no control over the roots that will eventually form your visible nebari so you may end up with 1 or 2 dominant roots or all on one side, etc. roots typically don't ramify much until they get close to the bag and most of that will be cut off when the tree is eventually potted to suit a bonsai pot (unless there is a much smaller RCB than I'm aware of)
Down here the best bonsai roots are grown by hard pruning the roots regularly. Tridents grow so fast that I have found annual root pruning of trees in the grow beds is best. That is also a great opportunity to prune the tops to get best taper and trunk movement. Slightly slower thickening but more than made up for in quality of both roots and trunks IMHO. Palmatum are only marginally slower than tridents and annual root pruning definitely improves nebari.
- I used "chipped trees inc leaves" (not plain wood chip) mulch and they more or less ground layer themselves in the stuff, they love it! And weeds can't get through. Has to be a thick layer...advantages and disadvantages.
- You may as well ground layer every tree, skip the tiles maybe? Ring-barking is too harsh, wire gets swallowed, I'm thinking steel car hose clips now....!!!
I also found out pretty quick that tridents love to grow lateral roots close to the surface and any existing root system planted too deep soon becomes redundant when new surface roots grow. It takes less than a year here before the trunk thickens close to the new surface roots so the lower section cannot be used.
I now place seedling tridents and palmatum through holes in aluminium sheet. As the trunks thicken the metal constricts them and new roots soon form above the plate but can only grow horizontal across the surface of the metal sheet resulting in flat new root system. Some root pruning to make them ramify results in excellent nebari and a flared trunk base. Certainly works for me with minimum time and effort.

Junipers and pines seem to need more years in the ground and are generally not dug each season but definitely watch any pines to make sure the trunks and branches don't get too long and bare. Pruning every 2-3 years to keep shoots close to the trunks and base for future development of trunks and branches.
 
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UK. Yorkshire
#53
I have a couple friends who are ground growers, so I am not the voice of professionalism on this. I have dug quite a few though, but I do know for a fact that undisturbed growth is best so after 5 or 6 years in the ground who knows what you will have even if it was perfect before planting. I just know that once the roots get to the 1/4 inch point after that they are a problem and that can happen in one good season!!!

This is a field I dig out of. This is the owner walking in the field and one can see how far apart they are. But....here are some roots after just five years in the ground. It's those large long seeking roots that have gained the girth in those trunks. That frilly stuff so important for a bonsai pot, means nothing when ground growing.

I prefer a compromise between the two. A pot large enough to do the job and taking a little more time in growing the material. BIG, is not everything. View attachment 216023 View attachment 216024 View attachment 216025 View attachment 216026 View attachment 216027 View attachment 216028
The point @Smoke makes about big isn't everything is particularly true for Acer Palmatum. This is one species I wouldn't recommend ground growing. Hard chopping Japanese maples is not recommended unless you can be precise which is difficult when you are knee deep in mud and often not at eye level. Staged chops over 2 or 3 seasons is best, ideally just above existing lines of vascular growth - these branches can help to prevent dieback.

The growing area looks really good Al, pictures can be deceiving eh?!
 
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#54
I have trouble growing maples (both trident and Japanese) in ground. They keep having die back due to fungi i guess in combination with the long moist condition under the anti-root fabric the roots are under. I'll remove the fabric this year, prune back and see what happens. I like the effect of ground growing despite the obvious drawbacks. I'm planning to alternate them between ground and box to maximize growth and keeping roots in check and have the opportunity to select the best growth / movement. I have no experience with grow bags so i'm looking forward to see the effect.
 

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