Friday, 6 January 2017

A Neglected Abelia Bonsai

In 2010 I received an unexpected gift from a senior member of my bonsai club - this Abelia:

August 2010 - as I received it

As we have a large Abelia growing in our garden, I already had a few little trees which I'd grown from cuttings, but this one's trunk had a lot more character than my others, aside from one flaw - some nasty reverse taper right at the base:

Interesting trunk with a really skinny base

My first step was to move it into a deeper pot but, perhaps unwisely, I made no attempt at layering it. In effect I was hiding the reverse taper rather than dealing with it.

By October 2011 I had a couple of new branches.

October 2011 - before pruning

It was time to get rid of the handlebars and select a new leader.

October 2011 - after pruning

Over the next couple of years it grew quite well, and with a few trims it was starting to look quite good. In the spring of 2013 I moved it to a bonsai pot (another gift) in time for the club show. The deep pot was not ideal but it was the only way to hide the reverse taper.

October 2013

Not much happened over the next two years during which it made a couple more appearances on club shows. Then, when I was looking for trees to display at last October's show, I discovered that I'd been paying this one too little attention and that it was in no condition to go on show.

Still I did nothing. I had too many other trees that needed my attention.

Finally today I decided it was time to fix up some of the mess. My tree now had some vigorous growth where I didn't want it - like the branch heading up to the top of the photo - while there was a lot of die-back to branches I really needed.

January 2017 - before pruning

I've now removed all the dead branches as well as a couple of upward growing ones that didn't belong and shortened everything else to encourage back-budding.

January 2017 - after pruning

Once I see how it develops I'll have decide whether I want to revert to the style of 2013 or whether to try to develop a slightly larger tree. And next spring I really need to see if I can pot it a bit lower as the reverse taper is starting to show again.

2 comments so far. I hope you'll join the discussion.

  1. Hi Gina - Are you giving any thought to air-layering it to address that reverse taper, or is that no longer an option?

    1. Hi belliott4488. I've never really considered it for this particular tree, but I'm sure it's an option. We're headed into winter here, but maybe I'll give it a try next spring. Thanks for the suggestion.