Why Grow on Tile?

Shibui

Chumono
Messages
841
Reaction score
1,484
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Fear, laziness, lack of experience, everyone else is doing it.......
There seems to be many reasons but I have yet to see or hear any valid ones.
 

leatherback

Masterpiece
Messages
2,853
Reaction score
4,231
Location
Northern Germany
USDA Zone
7
Roots naturally have a tendency to grow down as soon as possible. By placing a tile directly under the base, you direct the roots sideways. That way, you will get more roots in the horizontal plane helping build a nebari.

Of course, you can just prune the vertical roots. But then you do not ue all the mass buidlup to develop a nebari and additional lower trunk taper.
 

Anthony

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,828
Reaction score
7,432
Location
West Indies [ Caribbean ]
USDA Zone
13
See the archives - sigh - all these repeated questions ..................
Boring
Good Day
Anthony
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
20,971
Reaction score
28,231
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
Roots naturally have a tendency to grow down as soon as possible.
I would say it depends where you live.

If there is water below, they know and go.

If water is only from seasonal rains, with no water below, they won't grow down since it's useless to them.

My new Campaign is about working with a tree to extract its excellence. Working with how they work to create excellence faster.
This is just a minute detail so please understand I am not arguing.

Sorce
 

Adair M

Pinus Envy
Messages
11,148
Reaction score
23,371
Location
NEGeorgia
USDA Zone
7a
Tile is the essence of life. All big trees derive their strength from tile...
No but really planting on tile will prevent roots from growing downward. https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/ebihara-maples.18215/#js-post-245522
This is an excellent thread on the subject except wood is used instead of tile. Same concept tho.
Using a wooden board has many advantages over tile. You can screw through the board and into the bottom of the trunk securing the board to the trunk. This prevents the roots from lifting the tree up as they try to grow down. Also, you can arrange the roots over the board, then tack a small nail into the board to hold the roots in place.
 

Ohmy222

Sapling
Messages
45
Reaction score
46
What Adair said. Plus it is easier to dig up since you just have to cut the lateral roots.
 

Tieball

Omono
Messages
1,610
Reaction score
1,332
Location
Michigan. 6a
USDA Zone
6a
Well. My experience for some time and continuing right now is that the tile below is helpful to me. I currently grow American Elms, Hackberry and Field Maple in the ground....on top of 16” square floor tiles. In all my growing I prefer the tile. I don’t deep-plant the tile. I keep about 2-3” of soil above the tile for the trees growth. Nature seems to contribute another 1” of soil on top of that over time. I arrange the roots when first planted. If I think there might be a root crossover that could happen I just use small stones to change root paths and bury it all. When I dig the trees up my saw blade just follows along the tile edges. After the edge cuts, which take very little time, I can easily lift the tree, with a lighter weight, for further details like pruning edges more and soil removal. I have very good spreading and flat root based. Root bases are always automatically about 2” deep....and healthy....and easier to clean.

Periodically, if I feel a need, usually because of extreme growth of the tree above ground, I take the saw in early spring at bud swell and cut around the tile but just leave the tree in the ground. The only touch is the cut-around. Takes very little time. No problem for the trees.

I started using tiles about 15 years ago...after some stressful digging of ground growing trees. Tiles can be reused. Once the tree is cut around the tile and is lifted the nice square hole at the right depth is already prepared and in place...including the tile. I plant the next tree and top off the space with new soil.

I get:
1. Flat root bases
2. Ease of lighter weight removal
3. Ease of cleaning up steps that follow lifting
4. Plenty of feeder roots
5. Healthy trees
6. Nice natural radiating root spreads
7. No pains from shoveling out, prying and lifting root balls
8. No tap root headaches

I’ve never tried a wood base approach. I’m happy with the tile results. Talking from current practice for several years. There could be benefits without the tile...or with wood....but I like the results I get using the tile.

What I’m planting on the tiles: My growing process starts with very small initial tree growth collected from my field...usually trees with a 1/16” trunk diameter. Mostly American Elm. I like the extreme cold tolerant American Elm for my climate. Pulled from the ground, and tap root pruned, they go into wood boxes where growth is rapid. The boxes are only 3-1/2” total depth, about 10” x 12”, and I only fill the soil to about 1-1/2” from the top box edge. Rocks on the soil surface, leaning against the trunks, keep the trees from toppling over. From the box, now with a trunk of about 1/2” from a season (sometimes two seasons if I want more early growth), the trees go in the ground for fast growing on a tile where the trees stay until I lift them out.

Maybe not for everyone. However, it works for me. I like the growing process.
 

Stan Kengai

Omono
Messages
1,080
Reaction score
1,139
Location
North Georgia
USDA Zone
7a
The problem with growing on a tile that I have found is that you get a couple of roots that make it to the edge first. They dive down into the soil, quickly fattening and relegating all other root to obselence. So your nebari becomes three fat asymmetrical roots, completely out of proportion to the trunk.

Maybe I am doing it wrong. Maybe the plants roots should extend beyond the tile before planting. Maybe I didnt add enough soil to the surface. Maybe I'm not holding my mouth right, to quote a colloquialism.

I have seen others acheive better result than I have gotten using this method. But I have seen many more worse results, too.
 

Ohmy222

Sapling
Messages
45
Reaction score
46
The problem with growing on a tile that I have found is that you get a couple of roots that make it to the edge first. They dive down into the soil, quickly fattening and relegating all other root to obselence. So your nebari becomes three fat asymmetrical roots, completely out of proportion to the trunk.

Maybe I am doing it wrong. Maybe the plants roots should extend beyond the tile before planting. Maybe I didnt add enough soil to the surface. Maybe I'm not holding my mouth right, to quote a colloquialism.

I have seen others acheive better result than I have gotten using this method. But I have seen many more worse results, too.
You aren’t wrong but that problem exists anytime you grow in ground. I cut them yearly which does slow the process. I only cut the big ones that can ruin the nebari. Elms are the worst. They will throw out one or two monsters that are often the size of the trunk itself. I should also call out I don’t use bonsai soil. I find unless you water a lot it is better just using dirt or maybe nursery soil. Bonsai soil dries out fast and if it is on a tile and has not reached the earth it will severely hinder your growth. The best part of ground growing is not having to bother watering!

I don’t do it but another method is the escape method where you plant in a pot and set the pot on the ground. Then when the roots escape you cut them back when they get too large. Generally you would cut some extra holes on the side of the pot. Then you don’t even have to dig them out. It works very well but I don’t have lots of big nursery pots so I just use the board technique.
 

Adair M

Pinus Envy
Messages
11,148
Reaction score
23,371
Location
NEGeorgia
USDA Zone
7a
Well. My experience for some time and continuing right now is that the tile below is helpful to me. I currently grow American Elms, Hackberry and Field Maple in the ground....on top of 16” square floor tiles. In all my growing I prefer the tile. I don’t deep-plant the tile. I keep about 2-3” of soil above the tile for the trees growth. Nature seems to contribute another 1” of soil on top of that over time. I arrange the roots when first planted. If I think there might be a root crossover that could happen I just use small stones to change root paths and bury it all. When I dig the trees up my saw blade just follows along the tile edges. After the edge cuts, which take very little time, I can easily lift the tree, with a lighter weight, for further details like pruning edges more and soil removal. I have very good spreading and flat root based. Root bases are always automatically about 2” deep....and healthy....and easier to clean.

Periodically, if I feel a need, usually because of extreme growth of the tree above ground, I take the saw in early spring at bud swell and cut around the tile but just leave the tree in the ground. The only touch is the cut-around. Takes very little time. No problem for the trees.

I started using tiles about 15 years ago...after some stressful digging of ground growing trees. Tiles can be reused. Once the tree is cut around the tile and is lifted the nice square hole at the right depth is already prepared and in place...including the tile. I plant the next tree and top off the space with new soil.

I get:
1. Flat root bases
2. Ease of lighter weight removal
3. Ease of cleaning up steps that follow lifting
4. Plenty of feeder roots
5. Healthy trees
6. Nice natural radiating root spreads
7. No pains from shoveling out, prying and lifting root balls
8. No tap root headaches

I’ve never tried a wood base approach. I’m happy with the tile results. Talking from current practice for several years. There could be benefits without the tile...or with wood....but I like the results I get using the tile.

What I’m planting on the tiles: My growing process starts with very small initial tree growth collected from my field...usually trees with a 1/16” trunk diameter. Mostly American Elm. I like the extreme cold tolerant American Elm for my climate. Pulled from the ground, and tap root pruned, they go into wood boxes where growth is rapid. The boxes are only 3-1/2” total depth, about 10” x 12”, and I only fill the soil to about 1-1/2” from the top box edge. Rocks on the soil surface, leaning against the trunks, keep the trees from toppling over. From the box, now with a trunk of about 1/2” from a season (sometimes two seasons if I want more early growth), the trees go in the ground for fast growing on a tile where the trees stay until I lift them out.

Maybe not for everyone. However, it works for me. I like the growing process.
Planting them directly on the tile, with no soil underneath would be even better.

@Stan Kengai, the only way to get good nebari is to work it fairly often. Mr. Ebihara didn’t grow his in the ground, but in large wooden grow boxes. And he would dig the tree up every year, cut back the roots that grew over the edge of the board, and adjust and rearrange the roots as necessary. If any roots grew too strongly, he would cut them back more than the others.

This does slow the tree down, but creates a higher quality tree. And all Mr. Ebihara’s trees were top quality!

So, there’s the trade-off: speed of development vs quality of development. My personal opinion is it doesn’t matter how fast you can grow something if the final result is of less that ideal quality. I would rather it take longer, but be of a higher quality than have something I’m unhappy with sooner.
 

cmeg1

Masterpiece
Messages
2,661
Reaction score
2,621
Location
Southeast Pennsylvania USA
USDA Zone
7a
Got a few zelkova on clay saucer see how looks this spring it is already an inch.
Definately root prune and chop in spring though.hopefully nice and even.Planted last year.
About 12 more going on saucers in a few weeks too! Are bigger,probably be 1.5” -2” next year
 

Attachments

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,847
Reaction score
10,862
Location
Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
USDA Zone
6B
The problem with growing on a tile that I have found is that you get a couple of roots that make it to the edge first. They dive down into the soil, quickly fattening and relegating all other root to obselence. So your nebari becomes three fat asymmetrical roots, completely out of proportion to the trunk.

Maybe I am doing it wrong. Maybe the plants roots should extend beyond the tile before planting. Maybe I didnt add enough soil to the surface. Maybe I'm not holding my mouth right, to quote a colloquialism.

I have seen others acheive better result than I have gotten using this method. But I have seen many more worse results, too.
I will be seeing the results of this with my crape myrtle next spring.
Does make me think that just wiring the tree into the bottom of the bare pot may be the way to go.
 

John P.

Mame
Messages
105
Reaction score
78
Using a wooden board has many advantages over tile. You can screw through the board and into the bottom of the trunk securing the board to the trunk. This prevents the roots from lifting the tree up as they try to grow down. Also, you can arrange the roots over the board, then tack a small nail into the board to hold the roots in place.
I’ve been using tile and have used wood. Next time I’m using dense styrofoam. Should yield the benefits of wood without the decomposition. We’ll see.
 

Shibui

Chumono
Messages
841
Reaction score
1,484
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
the only way to get good nebari is to work it fairly often.
This is also how I work my trees but no tiles, boards, etc. Just good root pruning each year for vigorous species like tridents, every few years for less vigorous species like JM, pines and junipers. If I dig and prune each year there is little effort getting the tree out and after a couple of years there are very few vertical roots to deal with so no real need for a tile.

I see many using large tiles but I cannot see any point. Root spread on most bonsai will end up well under 12" diameter so there there does not seem to be any point growing a larger flat root system. In fact, the time taken for roots to grow over the edge of a larger tile to access better soil and water could be better spent growing and thickening your tree if the tile was smaller? Can anyone explain the move to larger and larger tiles?
 

Saddler

Chumono
Messages
650
Reaction score
778
Location
Vancouver, British Columbia
I’ve been using tile and have used wood. Next time I’m using dense styrofoam. Should yield the benefits of wood without the decomposition. We’ll see.
I’m really interested in hearing about how this works out. I’ve seen 1’x1’x2’ blocks of styrofoam that were buried at least 2’ underground float to the surface in under 2 years among other floating feats of styrofoam. I wonder what will happen with a tree planted on top in bonsai soil? Can a tree hold it down fast enough? I’ve thought about using styrofoam but the fear of it floating too quickly has stopped me. Please keep us updated if you try the styrofoam.
 

Anthony

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,828
Reaction score
7,432
Location
West Indies [ Caribbean ]
USDA Zone
13
We simply did this.
Can get saucers up to 2 feet [ 61 cm ].

Notice the depth?

Works well on J.b.pines [ see my entry 6 year .........]

Testing on a hardwood to see what it does.

Always ask, do you see surface roots on the mature version
of what you are growing,
Good Day
Anthony


Fustic - Chlorophora tintoria

leanin10.jpg
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom