Which Oak Bonsai

rockm

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Could I get a suggestion on what oaks to use for Bonsai? I was looking at a Northern Oak on line that has great fall colors but I really don't have a clue here and they don't grow wild here. Thanks for help, Peter
You'd probably get a more accurate answer simply by going to a local nursery and looking at the oaks they are selling. They sell what will live in your area. We can give advice here until we turn blue, doesn't mean we understand your climate or what will grow there.
 

Peter44

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Jonathan...can you explain to me how raffia controls the wound/bulge. I'm new so just trying to understand. Peter
 

Peter44

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Rock...the nurseries here are limited at best and I would not want to depend on them for anything. Like the maples I recently ordered and received...had to go online and find the ones that I wanted and get them shipped. They were grown for bonsai and are pretty good size etc. They will not make it through a winter here most of the time so I will have to store in shed with minimal heat. Same thing is going to happen with the oak. If I am going to spend the time and money with something, it needs to be very cool and pretty (fall colors), and I don't care if it is zoned for here or not. Obviously it could not be a tropical, but if it is a zone 6 and I'm a 5 that's easy to take care of. I will probably never leave any bonsai out over the winter here because of sub 0 and wind factors and I don't want to be out trying to move them to cover when I see that coming. The shed stays at 30-40 F and I have a temp monitor in there. Peter
 

rockm

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Rock...the nurseries here are limited at best and I would not want to depend on them for anything. Like the maples I recently ordered and received...had to go online and find the ones that I wanted and get them shipped. They were grown for bonsai and are pretty good size etc. They will not make it through a winter here most of the time so I will have to store in shed with minimal heat. Same thing is going to happen with the oak. If I am going to spend the time and money with something, it needs to be very cool and pretty (fall colors), and I don't care if it is zoned for here or not. Obviously it could not be a tropical, but if it is a zone 6 and I'm a 5 that's easy to take care of. I will probably never leave any bonsai out over the winter here because of sub 0 and wind factors and I don't want to be out trying to move them to cover when I see that coming. The shed stays at 30-40 F and I have a temp monitor in there. Peter
I'd say your inability to find oaks at nurseries might provide a hint as to their suitability as bonsai in your area. I have a similar situation with the oaks I have here in Va. as bonsai. Both my live oak and grey oak are native to Texas and N.M./Arizona respectively. I have been providing winter storage for my Texas live oak for the past 20 years in a cold greenhouse at a bonsai nursery 60 miles south of me. I'm testing the grey oak overwintering in my backyard with only mulch for winter protection. So far, after a couple of winters, it seems fine.

I suspect with your shed and temps in 30-40 range, you could keep native eastern deciduous oak --white, red, etc. (not many of which are all that great as bonsai). With a shed, you have also ruled out any "live" oak (Southern or Californian) that retains its leaves through the winter months. They need light... Willow oak (quercus phellos) is a great candidate. Deciduous, cold hardy and small leaves to begin with.

As said before, oaks aren't all that colorful in autumn, the best colors are yellowish to gold/bronze. Some can turn a bright red, but that requires some specific run up to autumn, - short frosts tied to warm days. Sudden freezes and cold just produce brownouts...
 

Peter44

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I am looking at Northern Red Oak or Pin Oak presently. Both are zoned for my area and have great fall colors. Why would they not make good bonsai if I can ask? Peter
 

atlarsenal

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I am looking at Northern Red Oak or Pin Oak presently. Both are zoned for my area and have great fall colors. Why would they not make good bonsai if I can ask? Peter
I’ll let @rockm answer but probably because of leaf size.
 

Microscopic

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Could I get a suggestion on what oaks to use for Bonsai? I was looking at a Northern Oak on line that has great fall colors but I really don't have a clue here and they don't grow wild here. Thanks for help, Peter
English Oak "Red Spire", I believe are all grafted. But I wonder how it'll do on its own roots. Wished they let me attempt a air layer or cutting. The red color is quite spectacular in person!
1549911744372.png
 

rockm

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I am looking at Northern Red Oak or Pin Oak presently. Both are zoned for my area and have great fall colors. Why would they not make good bonsai if I can ask? Peter
Pin oak is passable. Red oak has mostly the same problems as white oak, long internodes and big leaves that don't respond very well to bonsai culture. You want a colder hardy tight growing oak with reduceable leaves?--willow oak. More easily containerized because of naturally shallower root system, shorter internode length and already smallish leaves. FWIW, I'd rather have an oak that was worth a damn as bonsai in favor of fall color--which is highly regional and depended on weather...It's crap shoot..
 

Peter44

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I am beginning to understand Rock and I agree with you. I will look at the Willow maple. Do you have another one or two in mind also? Thanks for help. Peter
 

rockm

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I am beginning to understand Rock and I agree with you. I will look at the Willow maple. Do you have another one or two in mind also? Thanks for help. Peter
Willow oak...;) Pin oak is another pretty good candidate. Don't have much experience with it though. had a friend in cold West Va. that had a pretty nice one he collected off a coal slag heap. Flat root ball and smallish leaves that reduced pretty well. Shorter internodes than white oak.
 

rockm

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and FWIW, boxwood is an excellent alternative to actual oak for oak tree bonsai images. This is a Kingsville boxwood I've been working into a "live oak" for the last six or seven years. It's pretty cold hardy here and receives minimal protection from cold.
kingsville.jpgkingsville2.jpg
 

rockm

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Another FWIW, we don't have mountains much over 5,000 feet here in the Appalachians, but we do have high ridges that have smashed up hardwoods, including oaks. This is a boxwood I'm working on to resemble the higher altitude old forest oaks on the Blue Ridge peaks.
boxwood3.jpg
 

AJL

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Why not try Quercus ilex -its a tough small leaved evergreen species from Europe- seems easy to grow here in our English climate.
 

Peter44

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Pin Oak easy to find...willow oak not so much around here anyway. Thanks for advice Rock and pictures of the great boxwood trees...very nice! Peter
 

Peter44

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I have found some Willow and Pin oaks on line. I have never worked with oaks so have no clue what size to by. The options are:

1-2' , 2-3', 3-4', 4-5', 5-6'

I would like to buy the biggest one for the trunk size, but don't know if one could put any movement in a 5-6' tree. I am also assuming that these can be chopped, but don't know that either. Help and advice appreciated with this. Thanks, Peter
 

PaulH

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Hi Paul H and thanks for the input. Do any of the ones you mentioned have good fall colors? Do you collect them or buy them? When you say you have trouble keeping roots cool, how hot does it have to be outside before you worry about that and what do you do to keep them cool if I can ask. Thanks, Peter
Fall color is rare with oaks. My Oregon oak turns a nice yellow though. We hit around 110 degrees in summer and the problem comes when full sun hits the pot and cooks the roots. I move them to shade, and sometimes cover the pots/soil with sphagnum mos or wet towels.
 

Peter44

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Hi Paul and thanks for the reply. We can get to 100 here so I guess I had better watch out also. I never thought about the roots getting to hot. I also was told keeping the trees in Black nursery pots is not good either. I am going to build a tiered table soon on the East side of my shed for my Bonsai trees. I will also have a bench or two in dappled shade in the same area. I was thinking about putting a 30% sun shade over the table or making a lattice roof for it to be used in extreme heat. Do you collect anything or buy your trees? I really like collecting and wish I lived where oaks grew so I could collect some of them. Best regards, Peter
 

rockm

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Hi Paul and thanks for the reply. We can get to 100 here so I guess I had better watch out also. I never thought about the roots getting to hot. I also was told keeping the trees in Black nursery pots is not good either. I am going to build a tiered table soon on the East side of my shed for my Bonsai trees. I will also have a bench or two in dappled shade in the same area. I was thinking about putting a 30% sun shade over the table or making a lattice roof for it to be used in extreme heat. Do you collect anything or buy your trees? I really like collecting and wish I lived where oaks grew so I could collect some of them. Best regards, Peter
Temperatures depends on the oak...I leave my Texas-sourced Escarpment Live oak out in full sun all summer. Temps get in excess of 100 a lot, mid 90's into the evening in July/August is common. I leave my Grey Oak out in full sun also-it's from the New Mexico desert. Both are well able to tolerate heat and sun, provided their roots are protected a bit. I cover the pots with a light colored sheet if temps are forecast to be over 90 or so. Shade does neither any good (and I suspect this is true for other oaks). Shading the pots keeps them 15-20 degrees cooler for the most part.
 

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