Starter Elm


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Rosh Pinah, Namibia
Hi All

I bought an Chinese Elm starter while on holiday in Cape Town, the trunk is about pencil thickness so it has many years of growth ahead before it'll amount to anything.

I planted it in a large pot for development and was very happy to find the nursery had done some root pruning already.

Since then the plant has had to adapt to two very different climates (purchased in May 2010 and moved to another city since) but it's very healthy and going ever so slighly nuts.

I've spent a lot of time looking at the tree trying to see where it's going, but it's too soon.
There are however problems with lower branches being thinner than some on top, which might lead to problems later.
From the examples I've seen (at the nursery where I purchased and online) I suspect most if not all these branches will be chopped later in life, but I really can't be sure....

My question is should I try some pruning or just leave it to grow wild and put on as much weight as possible?

I know a photo would likely help, but it's basically a bare 30cm trunk (nice movement) with a leaf lollipop on top going wild......

Hi GerhardG, good starter material but as you say you want it to put on trunk size, so let it grow no need to prune now, unless you have places that have multiple branching at the same point and you don't want to see swelling at that point. C. Elms will bust out new buds when you prune and trunk chop down the road so brancing now isn't that important, its the branches growing that adds that trunk size you are looking for.

If you have a branch you think will fit the tree down the road and it's in a perfect spot, then you can prune it back fairly hard to keep it in check until you are at the point of putting on branches.

Is this a first tree for you, or do you have some in training already.

Welcome by the way don't remember seeing anyone else from Namibia on the board so some of the trees in your neck of the woods could be somewhat a novelty for some of us, if not the species, you may have some styles that we are not used to seeing.
Hi Bill

That part about the swelling trunk is the kind of advice I need, I assume this will cause reverse taper.

I've been at bonsai for about 4 years now, I've got some good advice here but mostly I lurk & learn & laugh at the bonsai flame wars!

There is a suprising number of people in NAM that practice bonsai (considering a total population of 2 million), I've seen some extremely good trees but also very low standards where I've felt these people need to get online for a reality check.

We have a lot of native species with huge potential, but most of those are up in the north so it's not easy to buy or collect.
I've also had to move a lot since starting (work), so the 100's of plants I bought/begged/borowed/stole during the initial craze have found new owners and I kept only 7 trees, most pretty young but getting there......

I guess the only style unique to this part of the world is Pierneef/Umbrella.......which is pretty much what trees here look like:D
Huge struggle style-wise if you've never seen a tree shaped by snow, and due to the climate you are forced to over-pot most of the time.
I have one Acacia Erubescens which I feel looks stunning this year, but the pot is more suitable for a tree about 10 times it's size!:eek: Problem is our Acacia's seem to want their roots left well alone or they die, so likely it'll never fit in a propper size pot.

Thanks for the advice.

You are welcome Gerhard, I am a little familiar with the perneif style, this year our clubs had Charles Seronio over from South Africa so we got to see some pictures of his work and native trees, definately different from what we see around here in my neck of the woods, our country for that matter.

Glad you are finding your way along, and enjoying the site, it has it's moments but in general it's been pretty good.

To your question, Yes multiple branches off the same point or whorl can give you reverse taper, with the elms they often shoot out a bunch of new buds pick a couple that will give you a branch , 2 or 3 in the area you need a branch, and rub off the rest of the buds at that level. Once you know the branches are doing well get it down to the best branch and then get rid of the others. At the grow out stage it isn't as important because you want the growth, just limit it when you have a lot in one area, that way no reverse taper knobs to deal with.
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