trunk chop a red buckeye

kilgore

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hey folks... new person here! with a question for the more knowledgable bonsai enthusiasts.

i have a red buckeye in a pot in my yard, about 2-2/12 feet tall, only a few years old. it has a nice thick trunk with a pretty root system and i'd like to just chop the whole thing down and see what happens. i'm in zone 7 in nashville.

any advice? should i a) chop it down as small as i want, reducing it from 2 1/2 feet to 8 or 9 inches tall? or, b) trunk chop it in stages, taking it down a foot at a time to keep some vitality and leaves intact?

also, what's the best time of year for this big operation? i've read that red buckeyes aren't the best bonsai because their leaves don't reduce easily... but i'm not so worried about it being a perfect bonsai. i love this tree, i'd like to cultivate it just to see how it responds.

thanks for any/all advice! wish me luck...
 

0soyoung

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Red buckeye = Aesculus pavia
is closely related to​
Horse chestnut = Aesculus hippocastanum, which I find to be a lot of fun. The leaf size is smaller, the smaller the tree. Here's a 4 year old one in a pot.

img_20180506_151530737_hdr-jpg.190862


My point to your question is to chop yours as low as possible. I'm willing to bet that you could chop it now and that it will sprout next spring - cut just above the lowest node/buds you can see on the trunk. However, if you wait until next spring, it will be easier to see the low node and/or those low buds on the trunk. I prune my little horse chestnuts in spring for this reason. Then keep it small and the leaves will stay small(er).

The other thing I've noted about horse chestnuts that I expect is also true of buckeyes is that they will not break bud after the summer solstice (21 June). In other words, they can be defoliated/pruned before the summer solstice and you will get a new set of smaller leaves on shorter petioles. Afterward, you'll just have buds that won't open until next year.
 

kilgore

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this is great advice! your horse chestnut is really lovely -- in such a small pot! i'll try giving it a good chop, i think i can see where the low nodes are. i'll take a before/after picture, let's see what happens.

i think the big leaves on a small tree is really fun. thanks for sharing.
 

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