Starting from Wild Saplings - Rowan (Mountain Ash)

Toshley

Seedling
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Hello everyone, first time posting here. Sorry for the amount of information, but I could use some supervision on my first attempts at bonsai :) Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read this and answer my questions! I'll take some pictures on Monday, when I get home and see them again.

My ficus bonsai that I purchased from a Canadian Tire about 15 years ago died over the last winter, and I've been sorely missing it's presence, so I've decided to have a go at starting a new tree from a sapling.

I live in Edmonton, Alberta, (-20c winters and +20c summers). My girlfriend's house has a massive, gorgeous rowan tree, below which are some gardens that have not been tended to in several years. I took a look through them and discovered about 20 very healthy rowan saplings and a handful of manitoba maples, sugar maples, and elms that are growing in some really wet, dense, and shaded garden soil. I'm also trying to get some cuttings from an amur cherry to take root, which I will plant using the following process.
I took a bit of time and did some research about how to properly replant, but I'm going off of very little knowledge, skill, and material, and have a few questions. I'm already aware in choosing a deciduous species, I have chosen to go with an outdoor Bonsai, and I will need to winter it in a garage. I'm ok with that, as I'm thinking about getting a Peace Lilly or an Orchid for my room.

First off, I dug up about 6 or so of the bushiest rowan saplings, no more than 2-3 years old (about 1' - 1'6"), and carefully rinsed the dirt away white extricating the roots from the mess of roots of other plants, keeping as many intact as possible. There were very few lateral fibrous roots, mostly just a very long tap root (I assume this is due to the competition it had growing in a very overgrown patch of garden).

Second, I bundled them together, and fit the bases and roots as close together as possible before zip-tying the bundle together at the base, and wedged pieces of chopstick to hold the trunks apart higher-up (I'm going for a multi-trunk look, to increase the odds that at least one of them might survive).

Third, I purchased some cheap, but sharp shears and removed roughly 2/3 of the tap root on each sapling, while trying to leave as many of the higher lateral fibrous roots as possible. There are only 3 or 4 very fine roots 2-3 inches long on each sapling now. I also trimmed most of the leaves back, but left the first pair of some of the smaller compound leaves intact on some of the branches I want to develop. (supposedly this encourages leaf size to remain small?). It looks mostly like a bundle of twigs with about 10 leaves now.

Finally, I filled a wide and shallow wicker Easter-basket (8"x8" wide x 3" deep) with a mixture of 60% road gravel ("fresh" from a bag, not off the side of the road) and 40% peat moss based potting soil (like I said, limited materials).
I planted the bundle of saplings in the center on top of 2 inches of gravel/soil, gathered the roots in 3 bundles that I laid flat on the gravel/soil at a 90 degree angle from the trunk, and then used tie-wire and pieces of chopsticks over the root bundles to secure it down, before adding another inch of gravel/soil on top, and then soaking it with the hose until the water ran clear.
It is currently sitting on the deck in a nice sunny location, and the next week is a good blend of sun and rain.

From what I can tell, I did everything correctly, but for some reason I still fully expect to have a dead bundle of twigs in a month's time.

This brings me to the question portion of my post, in an effort to prevent that outcome.

1. There are a few spider-mites attached to the saplings. I sprayed them with a mixture of dish-soap and water, but I'm wondering if anyone has any advice for this as a recurring problem? I'm hoping that in their new sunny location, and with the occasional soap spray, it'll solve the issue.

2. Is basic stone gravel adequate for bonsai? I keep reading about pumice/lava/japanese style potting gravel, but I'd like to keep expenses to a minimum, at least until I've got something that is ready for a repotting in a year or two. It drains better than dirt, but from my experience, can still hold moisture for some time in the lower layers. I added the potting soil as a buffer for my own lack of experience, but I'm second guessing myself, as I read that just plain gravel is fine.

3. Should I be fertilizing this season? From what I read, I should be going for around a 10-15-10 fertilizer to encourage root growth, but I've also heard not to fertilize at this point.

4. I think I'm going to try some as indoor bonsai's. I have a good south facing window that is left open most of the time during the growing season. Any tree on the window sill would get a lot of exposure to light and moving air, and I have a rain-barrel for watering. I've read not to bother with deciduous species indoors, particularly the northern species that face wild swings in weather, but it can't hurt to try, and there are plenty of saplings to experiment with. Any major do's or don'ts I should know?

P.S. I also got a tiny little Goldcrest Cypress that I planted in a bonsai pot before finding out that they are typically more of a bushy shrub-like tree. Does anyone have experience with trying to bonsai one of these?

Thanks again!
 

NOZZLE HEAD

Shohin
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@sorce welcome to crazy.

You put so much info in there and so many questions that it is burdensome to the responder to parse which question to answer.

Post a picture and ask each question individually, you will get more relevant responses, instead of a new thread where old men argue with each other.
 

AJL

Shohin
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When did you transplant and do all this work and are they alive and in leaf now? post some photos then we can help more!
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
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Welcome to Crazy!

"Attached" isn't an adjective we hear used much for mites, you sure they're mites?

Sorce
 

penumbra

Masterpiece
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Do as Sorce suggests. Frankly I don't really want to read through your entire post, but if you put a brief description of your experiences or concerns, I would likely reply in turn.
In any event , Welcome.
 

Toshley

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Welcome to Crazy!

"Attached" isn't an adjective we hear used much for mites, you sure they're mites?

Sorce

Poor choice of words on my part. They are spinning very fine threads between leaves, and they live on the underside of the leaves. I haven't seen any more, but it's only been 2 days since I did the replanting.
 

Toshley

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When did you transplant and do all this work and are they alive and in leaf now? post some photos then we can help more!

It was only 2 days ago, they are still green, and the buds I left on are growing well. I should have a nice set of new leaves in a week or two, if they don't die from the transplant.

Here are some pictures of a single sapling I had left over that I stuck in a little pot and wired up as a learning experience. I don't expect it to survive, but right now I'm just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

I will post a better thread Monday, with good pictures of my cluster attempt, and a more succinct post lol. I just took the last picture before I pruned the leaves off. The final picture of my bundle now has a similar amount of leaves to the first 5 pictures
 

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AJL

Shohin
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Early days yet-here are a few basic facts to help you . Wait till your sure the young seedlings are alive.established and growing well.
Tranplanting deciduous trees in leaf in July is not advisable .
Red Spider mite (if thats what it is) is unlikely to be a problem in a cool damp environment outdoors once the trees are healthy, established, but for now just pick off badly affected leaves and keep well misted.
Plain gravel is unlikely to sustain your trees for long as it will contain little or no plant nutrients, but if mixed with normal potting compost will probably keep them alive for the short to medium term
Dont fertilise 2 days after replanting - I suggest wait at least 6- 8 weeks until theyre growing strongly,
Dont try growing outdoor trees indoors !theyre doomed to failure
Why dont you buy a bonsai beginners book to guide you through the basic horticulture??
 

Toshley

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Early days yet-here are a few basic facts to help you . Wait till your sure the young seedlings are alive.established and growing well.
Tranplanting deciduous trees in leaf in July is not advisable .
Red Spider mite (if thats what it is) is unlikely to be a problem in a cool damp environment outdoors once the trees are healthy, established, but for now just pick off badly affected leaves and keep well misted.
Plain gravel is unlikely to sustain your trees for long as it will contain little or no plant nutrients, but if mixed with normal potting compost will probably keep them alive for the short to medium term
Dont fertilise 2 days after replanting - I suggest wait at least 6- 8 weeks until theyre growing strongly,
Dont try growing outdoor trees indoors !theyre doomed to failure
Why dont you buy a bonsai beginners book to guide you through the basic horticulture??

Thanks! That was helpful. I'll look into getting a book about the basics, and save the remaining saplings for next spring while I do some reading.

Unfortunately the climate I'm in is tricky.
 

Toshley

Seedling
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Not a Bonsai, but here's a picture of my new Peace Lily. Super easy to care for, and bloom continuously.
 

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