Sycamore?

Forbes

Seedling
Messages
18
Reaction score
1
Location
Waynesburg, Pa
Hey all, I'm fairly new to bonsai... I've only had my first tree since about March of this year. I'm already addicted and my house and backyard is quickly turning into a home (and testing grounds) for several trees. I live in Southwestern Pennsylvania (south of Pittsburgh). I have a couple of trees indoors, and a couple outdoors that i'm weening from full shade to partial sun, and trying to learn as i go, with the help of some local bonsai enthusiasts and forums like this one.

The Sycamore tree has been one of my favorite trees all of my life. Here where I live, they are very prevelant, and can be found near about any type of water. I wanted to know if anyone has ever tried growing them as a bonsai before? I've looked and found very little on this. Some have told me I will have a hard time with leaf reduction, but I have read that some trees will cope with this if you do a comeplete defoliation once every other year or so. Anyone have any experience with that? I've also heard that if you take a tree growin in the ground, make a clean cut on it, seal it, and let it grow, it will for new shoots. If this is repeated you can form a newly, shorter tapered tree. My question with this is, if you are cutting the complete trunk, is it best to leave one branch, or can i make a complete cut say 8" up the trunk below the first existing branch? I have quite a few Sycamores on my property with good clean 2"-4" diamater trunks that would be great if i could reduce the rest of the tree in size. Your thoughts or suggestions?
 

Bill S

Masterpiece
Messages
2,494
Reaction score
18
Location
Western Massachusetts
USDA Zone
5a
Unless you want BIG bonsai the sycamore isn't going to let you reduce the leaves, from everything I have seen on them. Also defoliation isn't going to give taper, the trunk chops will do that part. Not sure if these will take defoliation either. Many trees only push one set of leaves a year.
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,015
Reaction score
10,821
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Sycamore is a true forest giant. It is extremely hard to tame into bonsai. Although the dinner plate sized leaves do reduce, it retains a gawky, lanky branching pattern that isn't easily overcome. "Coping" with leaf size usually means it's a headache and a pain in the butt. Whoever told you that every other year defoliation helps with leaf size doesn't understand what they're talking about. Defoliation isn't used to reduced leaf size (although it SOMETIMES can happen--sometimes it can force a crop of even BIGGER leaves). It is aimed at increasing ramification (the number of sub-branches on a branch). Defoliation alone will not solve the leaf issue. Leaf size has alot to do with the available moisture and sunlight for the leaves on a particular tree. REduced watering and increased sunlight can induce smaller leaves, as can understanding how to shorten leaf internodes (but withholding water can also kill your tree if done incorrectly or at wrong time). Controlling internod length is usually something it takes a few years to understand and put into practice.

Read up on "trunk chops" to understand how to top prune a trunk to force taper into it. The larger the trunk, the longer this takes --can take a decade depending on what you start with and if you're working with a sycamore, you're probably going to want to start with a large, or extremely large (like over 8 inches in diameter) trunk to bring those extra huge leaves into believable scale.

I don't really mean to rain on your parade, but sometimes in bonsai when you don't see a high-profile species like this used, it means it's not really worth the effort.
 

Forbes

Seedling
Messages
18
Reaction score
1
Location
Waynesburg, Pa
Thanks Rockm... that is just the kind of reply, I was hoping for, but not wanting to see. lol... Like I said, I love the Sycamore, so I'm a little bummed with the reply, but the honesty, and the "why not" explanations are just what I was hoping to find here. I will definately have to do some more reading on the trunk chopping as well as trying to reduce leaf sizes. I have a pretty good amount of Sycamore to do what I want with, in varying sizes and stages, I may do some more homework and and try a couple of approaches along side each other. I'll be sure to take notes and post lots of pics once i start... so I can share what happens (or what doesn't happen, as it may be).

thank you again for the wisdom. :)
 

headive24

Yamadori
Messages
53
Reaction score
8
Location
Bakersfield California
USDA Zone
9
Did U ever make in progress with sycamore? I got a cool one recently for cheap because it had lost the top of it somehow and was placed in the back of the nursery and pretty much forgotten about. To me tho, it was appealing because I'm used to seeing those giant sycamores growing along rivers here natively and their white bark and mature shape look cool. This trees mid and lower branches have shot up to replace the lost leaders and the health looked pretty good to me. I have an idea of how I'm foung to approach, but i always like hearing people's FIRSTHAND experience. I usually disregard the hearsay. Anyway that's why I was interest what became of your sycamores
Thanks Rockm... that is just the kind of reply, I was hoping for, but not wanting to see. lol... Like I said, I love the Sycamore, so I'm a little bummed with the reply, but the honesty, and the "why not" explanations are just what I was hoping to find here. I will definately have to do some more reading on the trunk chopping as well as trying to reduce leaf sizes. I have a pretty good amount of Sycamore to do what I want with, in varying sizes and stages, I may do some more homework and and try a couple of approaches along side each other. I'll be sure to take notes and post lots of pics once i start... so I can share what happens (or what doesn't happen, as it may be).

thank you again for the wisdom. :)
 

TN_Jim

Omono
Messages
1,188
Reaction score
1,113
Location
Nashville TN
USDA Zone
7a
I saved one from certain death -thanks for insights
 

Potawatomi13

Masterpiece
Messages
2,864
Reaction score
1,789
Location
Eugene, OR
USDA Zone
8
Original post about 8 years old. Maybe no longer around?
 

Michael P

Shohin
Messages
271
Reaction score
303
Location
Dallas, Texas
USDA Zone
8a
I love sycamores (Platanus) in the landscape. If you could get decent branch structure, it would be worth training one as bonsai just to see the great mature bark in the winter. Forget the leaves!
 

Silentrunning

Chumono
Messages
589
Reaction score
775
Location
Warrenton North Carolina
USDA Zone
7a
I would be more inclined to make a topiary out of the Sycamore. An 6 to 8 foot formal upright / broom style tree in the front yard could be very attractive.
 

Top Bottom