Under-used\under-rated plants

Nigel Black

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I've been thinking about this subject quite a bit lately. As a result of having worked in nurseries over the last decade I've come across quite a few plants that I haven't seen get much use or exposure, although apparently well suited for bonsai.

A few that I have been working with and really like:

Ilex crenata 'Soft Touch'
Ligustrum spp. 'Wimbush' (leaves the size of 'Morris Midget' Boxwood)
Pinus strobus
Ulmus x 'Jaquiline Hillier'
Buxus microphylla 'John Baldwin'
B. sempervirens 'Mont Bruno'

I'm curious about under-rated and under-used plants others might be working with.

Nigel
 

AndyWilson

Mame
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I think Celtis Africana (white stinkwood), its has a fantastic silvery bark, small leaves, internodes and is one tought little tree. beautiful winter silhoutte too.
 

Nigel Black

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I've never heard of this species of Celtis. I'm going to look into this one. I appreciate the mention.

Nigel
 

grouper52

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I'm very fond of arctic beech, Nothofagus antarctica. I have four that I thought I would post as a series here, similar to Tom's yews, just to liven things up, especially for anyone not too familiar with them.

I've also fallen in love with the little Kinnikinnicks that grow wild here and which make lovely mame. Might post a bunch of them someday as well.

gruper52
 

Graydon

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I have a Pinus strobus that is driving me nuts. I am ready to give up on it, can't get it to back-bud on any predictable schedule, no needle reduction whatsoever and the bark is ho hum for a pine. I doubt it would ever achieve ramification at all.

As far as under used I can see why with this tree.
 

Nigel Black

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I have six three-year old Pinus strobus. Now I know what I have to look forward to...


Nigel
 

barrosinc

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I'm very fond of arctic beech, Nothofagus antarctica. I have four that I thought I would post as a series here, similar to Tom's yews, just to liven things up, especially for anyone not too familiar with them.

I've also fallen in love with the little Kinnikinnicks that grow wild here and which make lovely mame. Might post a bunch of them someday as well.

gruper52
I never looked at them too much, in winter I might go and go on a yamaodri trip to pick some up!
Will, if you are ever lurking the site and still have some picks of them I would love to see them.
 

miker

Chumono
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The Taiwan form of trident maple is seldom used here in the United States at least. Not quite sure why, as it seems extremely well suited for use as bonsai and is much more commonly used in Asia, from my understanding.

My new one has really nicely textured bark, even as a young tree with a trunk that is less than 1" in diameter.
 

erb.75

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I have two dwarf pinus strobus v. "diggy". The have smaller needles and look pretty good as pre bonsai. I'm taking it slow with them. Mainly, year one I might repot one of them, and just focus on getting the tree as healthy as I can.

Interestingly, both have weak tops with a lot of brown needles, but low on the tree it is very green. Might be basally dominant? It was a hell of a deal though ;) $10-$20 per tree with 3'' trunks from a local place...discounted from 160! Fall super saver sale!
will post pictures later with progressions
 

jeanluc83

Omono
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Pitch pine, pinus rigidia. There are few opertunities for collection and they are not available at nurseries. They are a two flush pine and they backbud on old wood. I'm growing my own from seed but best case I'll be 15 years in before I'm even close to a bonsai.
 

miker

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Pitch pine, pinus rigidia. There are few opertunities for collection and they are not available at nurseries. They are a two flush pine and they backbud on old wood. I'm growing my own from seed but best case I'll be 15 years in before I'm even close to a bonsai.
I collected an amazing yamadori pitch pine in 2001 in extreme N Arkansas. It was growing near a rocky low mountain top in a small pocket of soil. Kept it hidden in a field with high grass for the next 2 weeks at camp (wrapped root ball in aluminum foil)! It had such nice taper, mature fissured bark, and a beautiful trunk line. I have great memories of working on and growing that tree. Unfortunately, it died in June 2005 from the roots staying wet for too long. When I got back from a trip, it was completely dead. I so wish I still had it. I will probably never again own a "natural" bonsai (this tree was truly a natural bonsai, not just collected pre-bonsai material) that I collected.

Note, my tree's true identity was always a mystery as I did extensive research into which Pinus species it was. From everything I could tell, my tree fit the description of a pitch pine (Pinus rigida) perfectly yet pitch pine is not shown as ranging into N Arkansas on the range maps I have seen. The Pine species native to the area in which I collected did not seem to match up perfectly with my tree, as pitch pine did.
 
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erb.75

Chumono
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Pitch pine, pinus rigidia. There are few opertunities for collection and they are not available at nurseries. They are a two flush pine and they backbud on old wood. I'm growing my own from seed but best case I'll be 15 years in before I'm even close to a bonsai.
I've heard this from a lot of locals in OH. They swear by pitch pines, but the difficulty is finding one!
 
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yeah avoid pinus strobus, unless you can find some out in the wild you'll never get anything worth while in our life time haha but never hurts to try new things
 

miker

Chumono
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Pinus clausa (sand pine) is probably the best candidate I can come up with. I have often seen it locally growing in sandy, dry areas and the species overall appears to have excellent natural traits for bonsai. I plan to get at least one in the near future and put it to the test. In fact, just bought a small one on eBay.

Pinus clausa and Pinus rigida are probably the best native (Eastern US) pine species for bonsai.

Pinus rigida should not be that difficult to find.
 

Paradox

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Pitch pine are not hard to find. It IS hard to find one that would make a good bonsai and is collectable. I live in Pitch pine heaven. 100s of acres of pitch pine barrens out here. I have yet to find a mature tree that would make a good bonsai. Ive collected seedlings and currently have 4 that Ive been growing for about 3 years.
 

jeanluc83

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Pitch pine are not hard to find. It IS hard to find one that would make a good bonsai and is collectable. I live in Pitch pine heaven. 100s of acres of pitch pine barrens out here. I have yet to find a mature tree that would make a good bonsai. Ive collected seedlings and currently have 4 that Ive been growing for about 3 years.
That's the problem. Nick Lenz noted that the only place to find pitch pine worth collecting is on rock outcroppings. You really need to find a tree growing in a rock pocket or shallow spot on an outcropping. Any trees that are growing in open ground send out long roots. Anything more than a couple of years old becomes very difficult to collect. I tried to collect some small trees a couple of years ago. They were only a few years old and many had roots that extended 3 or 4 feet.

Unfortunately, it died in June 2005 from the roots staying wet for too long.
I found that out with my first batch of seedlings. I lost about half of them and I believe that it was because the mix they were in was too wet. I have had good luck since using pumice and about 10-20% pine bark. I'm not even sure that the pine bark is needed. They can get watered often but the substrate can not retain too much water.

I've actually had my trees knocked over and sit with their roots over half exposed for a day and had them come through fine.
 

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