Why do trunks cork/roughen up quicker in pots than in the ground? How to speed up the process?

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I hear that trees in the ground take awhile before rough bark is visible.

Is it because of relative proportions? I imagine the speed at which trunks thicken might outpace the pace which the cork/rough bark forms.

In theory, if you wanted to speed this process of rough bark formation in the pot vs. ground, what would you do? Are there any tried and true techniques?
 

ShadyStump

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THIS 👆 is an excellent question.

I will wait for answers with you since I really have not seen anything on bark growing.
It's generally spoken of as if it's just a matter of course while developing the rest of the tree; and it very well may be that's the best way to go about it- don't go about it, just let it happen. And this could be because every species and cultivar will have different needs and expectations where bark is concerned.
But in bonsai we've come up with crazy strategies for literally everything else, someone has to have some general guidelines on developing bark.
 

sorce

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For me it's as simple as slow growth is thinner and thinner growth will break easier.

It's a question then of where the thin/thick layers are and weather or not we can use that to an aesthetic advantage.

Controlling the size of "bark".

Sorce
 

MrWunderful

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On thin Park deciduous trees, some people will use a light steel wool to gently scratch up the bark to make it look older. I don’t agree with that, with something like bark age there might not be a way to necessarily speed it up. Somethings just take time.
And for the record trees that I rapidly grow in the ground tend to look far older than younger trees in pots.
 

cmeg1

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Acording to Bonsai Today #? The bark is better in slower growth in a pot……for perhaps a same age 10 year seedling or something…….but when talking of great age the ground wins out for sure with the plating and such.
I have seen 5 yr or more fast ground grown trees with VERY weak and smooth bark whereas the container slower growing produced a much more interesting bark……….I noticed this first hand at meehans in maryland.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I agree with the things said above; slow growth induces bark faster, because growth overall is slower and the outer wood layer of the tree has time to oxidize and break down before it falls off. It's probably the illusion of actual bark. If a tree grows rapidly, this breakdown doesn't happen because the bark will be shed before it has time to build. In scots pines this is very visible from the coloration; dark plated bark on the bottom, orange flakes on top.
Actual quality bark that has deep fissures happens mostly in the ground. Because that's when there's energy to build wood mass. Bark so thick that it acts and breaks off like actual wood.

I have tried beating a tree with force, making slits and cuts. But it only grew thicker scars, not thicker bark.

I've been trying to dig into literature about bark formation, to see if there's a genetic trait related to cork bark for instance. But I haven't even found the scientific term for 'cork bark' to be honest. Bill Valavanis has introduced a cork maple(?) cultivar in the US that I stumbled upon during that research, but he wouldn't answer my message - understandable, he's a busy man.

I'm also willing to accept pollen from cork bark pine species, to see if I can use it to breed it into European pines. But that's going to take a couple decades at least, since I don't own any flowering pines at this time. I have that system laid out for.. other plants.. So I know how to handle, store (25 years max) and process pollen and how to do selective breeding by isolating and pollinating parents - it's not that hard actually and I can recommend everyone to try it for themselves if they have the chance. If you're interested, I'll write it down for you in exchange for some of the seeds you get from them.
 

leatherback

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Barking is a function of age. The smooth bark is smooth because it continues to grow with the growth of the tree, and no fissures occur. At some point when the tree matures, the outer bark cambium does not expand sideways enough and the bark starts to crack. In a pot, a tree will age faster, and bark up faster. If you have a plant in a small pot where roots are limited and the tree reaches the state of "maximum size for the resources" and starts to slow down, barking starts to occur. Rootbound helps. Barking is not a function of treesize.

For some species (e.g., prunus) barking gets more interesting if you keep the bark wet, say, packed in moist sphagnum
 
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I agree with the things said above; slow growth induces bark faster, because growth overall is slower and the outer wood layer of the tree has time to oxidize and break down before it falls off. It's probably the illusion of actual bark. If a tree grows rapidly, this breakdown doesn't happen because the bark will be shed before it has time to build. In scots pines this is very visible from the coloration; dark plated bark on the bottom, orange flakes on top.
Actual quality bark that has deep fissures happens mostly in the ground. Because that's when there's energy to build wood mass. Bark so thick that it acts and breaks off like actual wood.

I have tried beating a tree with force, making slits and cuts. But it only grew thicker scars, not thicker bark.

I've been trying to dig into literature about bark formation, to see if there's a genetic trait related to cork bark for instance. But I haven't even found the scientific term for 'cork bark' to be honest. Bill Valavanis has introduced a cork maple(?) cultivar in the US that I stumbled upon during that research, but he wouldn't answer my message - understandable, he's a busy man.

I'm also willing to accept pollen from cork bark pine species, to see if I can use it to breed it into European pines. But that's going to take a couple decades at least, since I don't own any flowering pines at this time. I have that system laid out for.. other plants.. So I know how to handle, store (25 years max) and process pollen and how to do selective breeding by isolating and pollinating parents - it's not that hard actually and I can recommend everyone to try it for themselves if they have the chance. If you're interested, I'll write it down for you in exchange for some of the seeds you get from them.
I do like what you're mentioning here, esp. the part about the scots pine. It's what I also see with other species like JBP. I posted a somewhat related thread awhile back because I was curious how Korean Youtubers were able to make their trees' bark so plate-like. It's quite amazing actually. Good luck on any future crosses you do!

See thread:

And a sample image is attached.
 

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How about.. It is the species of pine tat has bark like this?
I’ve translated the videos to find that many specimen red pines in Korea look like this. Even their ground-grown ones are like this if you find those videos. They are either the same as JRP or a related cultivar (guess you also should factor in regional differences).

But if it’s simply just the species, how come we don’t see bark that pronounced in America? Or even Europe? I’m sure many enthusiasts worldwide have worked with these species, yet it’s never this pronounced. As you’ve suggested, age is certainly a factor. Korea and Japan have been doing this for literal ages, so their trees have had time to get to this stage. But I’m convinced there’s more to the story. I’m hoping maybe someone who’s apprenticed in East Asia can shed some light.
 

HorseloverFat

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It’s about how the cells are distributed...

There’s a portion of “Botany for Bonsai” about JUST this....

But it simply relates, as has been said, to overall growth.. so the ground vs container “thing” ISN’T the issue.. i’d bet it’s species specific.
 

0soyoung

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Bark actually grows from a different cambium (known as the 'cork cambium') than does the wood/xylem and inner-bark/phloem (the vascular cambium). A new cork cambium is formed every year and is why bark plates look similar to phyllo dough.

Given this, it is intuitively straight-forward to understand cork-bark varieties as ones that proportionately divert more carbohydrate into the cork cambium(s) that the into the vascular cambium
 
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Just wanted to add an interesting observation I made within a span of 3 years on this tree. It's a really important and sentimental plum tree of mine.

Before I knew what to do with trees, I tried to grow this plum seedling in a pot for a year with "indoors sunlight." It grew slowly, but as you can see, that trunk on the left from indoors growing developed much more plated bark.

However, I put it in the ground, knowing how much happier the tree would be. And yes, the tree ended up being happier! A new trunk shot up, and in only 1 year, it overtook as the dominant trunk. Yet its bark is not nearly as plated as the "indoors" bark I developed on the left trunk. To this day, the left trunk grows slowly. I'm not sure if there's an epigenetic mechanism here, but it does seem to confirm what I've heard from Japanese bonsai practitioners via YouTube: there's no short cut to good, plated bark. You have to grow it out slowly.

And to answer my question from before, my hunch is that those red pines (called sonamu or "pine tree" 소나무 in Korean) were just grown for a long time/slowly and developed bark like that over time. No shortcuts unfortunately! Until we have cheaper/easier gene-editing techniques in bonsai ;)
 

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