Saturday, 24 September 2016

Pruning stimulates new growth

Sometimes it's not easy to decide when to prune a tree and when to leave it to grow undisturbed.

I've been accused of over-pruning my trees and it's often true. However in the case of the Schotia I wrote about recently, I feel vindicated by my tree's positive response to a haircut that some regarded as too harsh.

When I pruned the tree in August, it was looking rather ugly with the faded remnants of last summer's foliage.

Schotia after pruning - 23 August 2016

Today, barely a month later it has lost most of that ugly foliage and is covered with new growth.

Schotia - 24 September 2016

I have no doubt that some will say that it would have grown even more had I not pruned it, and had the tree been a different species that may well have been the case. But not with this one. Here's a smaller tree of the same species, which stands right beside the larger one and has been exposed to the same conditions over the last month. The only difference - the little one wasn't pruned in August.

Smaller Schotia - 24 September 2016

So far it has shown no signs of new growth this season.

Under the circumstances I felt obliged to give it a haircut to bring it out of hibernation.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Clip and Grow Ficus - the Second Chop

This Ficus Natalensis is one of those I first discussed in my post Clip and Grow Bonsai about six months ago. When I wrote that post I discussed how I intended to proceed this summer and things have gone more or less to plan so far. Only my intention to put it into a bigger pot has been put on hold until later in the season.

The reason for that delay is because I cut a fairly large surface root and have left it in the pot, hoping a new tree will develop from that root. If that happens I'd like to remove the new tree when I repot this one.

This is what it looked like before I started work:

August 2016 - before chop

Although someone at my club suggested I make the chop one branch higher, I decided to stick to what felt right to me. One quick chop and I was left with this:

August 2016 - after chop

As we moved from winter into spring the tree dropped all its old foliage, but not before new buds started developing everywhere.

Here are two shots from yesterday:

September 2016 - possible front

The above is my probable front, though I may change my mind when I see how the tree develops. It depends whether I decide to keep the left branch. I'm not sure it's in the best position, but for now it's the only one I've got.

September 2016 - possible back

From this side it's clearly visible that, in addition to lots of new buds on the leader and branch, the tree is producing new growth all over the trunk too. As my main focus is on thickening the new leader, I'll probably remove those unwanted buds. After that I'm unlikely to do anything more to the tree this summer other than repotting it when and if that root decides to grow.

When I made the chop last month, I planted the top as a cutting but soon noticed that it was drooping and in due course it lost all its leaves. I'm happy to report that in the last few days I've noticed new leaves developing though, so I'm optimistic that it's developing roots too.

I hate to waste anything that can grow, but I'm slowly learning not to keep the smallest cuttings. Given the fact that Ficus Natalensis grows quickly, however, this one was too good to waste.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Is Rosemary good material for bonsai?

This is a Rosemary plant I started as a cutting about eight years ago, shortly before I killed its parent in The Great Vinegar Disaster.

Rosemary - September 2016

It has spent most of its life in its current pot, which has a diameter of 20cm (±8 inches). As a result the trunk still only measures 1.5 inches across the base. That's alright for me though because I like to keep most  of my trees small.

The trunk has quite nice character:

Close-up from previous photo

Unfortunately I'm finding it really hard to develop a good branch structure on this tree and some members of my club have dismissed it as a lost cause.

I'm not ready to give up yet. Perhaps a good trim will help with back-budding. Then again, in this case it may not.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Schotia Brachypetala one year later

I first discussed this Schotia and its development from a five foot nursery tree in a post I wrote late last year, shortly after it had been subjected to a very dramatic pruning.

September 2015

By the time I wrote that post in November 2015, it was already showing good signs of recovery and I left it to grow unchecked for the rest of the summer.

Despite being a relatively slow-growing tree, it put out strong growth and a couple of weeks ago, with spring approaching, I decided it was time to get rid of the excess growth and try to work on better ramification.

August 2016 - before pruning

After pruning the structure of the tree is a bit more apparent.

August 2016 - after pruning

I'm still not totally happy with the direction that the top branches are growing as the apex seems to be sticking too far forward. (This problem can be clearly seen in the side view photo I included in my previous post.)

I won't decide what to do about it right now though, but will wait to see what new growth this year's pruning stimulates. Maybe once those branches ramify a bit more, the top won't look so bad.

Apologies for the ugly end of winter foliage. Now that spring has arrived I'm hoping that some fresh green leaves will soon appear.