Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hardwood Cuttings

I took about 60 japanese maple cuttings. I bought a rather large Shojo maple, with red bark and leaves. The trunk is grafted, but it is very close to the soil line, and it has barked up so the green base color is masked. The root spread is marvellous and there is a good movement and taper to the trunk. However, I cut about 6 feet off the top. I cut the branches into 6 to 8 inch (15-20cm) sticks, keeping care to know which tip was the growing tip and which was the rooting tip. I soaked these in a bucket of water over lunch, about an hour. I coated the growing tips with rooting gel, which I allowed to dry on, sealing the cuts. Then I planted the cuttings in a bundle in a pail of lava rock, on about a 30 degree angle to facilitate drainage and bury the cuttings deeper.
1) Take cuttings now. In the dormant season the plant barely lives or dies. It will spend the cold season trying to survive the cuts made. The cuttings will undergo the same process, healing. If the cutting succeeds in healing its base cut by the warm season, then it will quickly throw out roots and survive to grow. If the hardwood cutting is taken in spring, the plant will heal through the spring growth and have trouble putting out enough roots to survive summer.
2) Though the species is grafted, I think the non-grafted cuttings will be healthy and vigorous. Grafting provides increased growth and improved hardiness. In Victoria, hardiness is not necessary. The increased growth primarily helps nurseries which sell product based on size. Speedy growth means more profit. The small amount of decreased vitality makes no difference to the bonsai artist. Also, it is not too serious a decrease.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Way of Obtaining Bonsai

Today I found and collected a tree. Above ground it measures 2ft by 2ft.
You are right - now is not the time to replant. It will stress the tree unnecessarily.
But I didn't just repot the plant. I ripped it out of the ground and stuffed it in a plastic bag. Then I jammed it in my vehicle, and went to MacDonald's. After dinner, I knocked most of the soil off the root ball. Now I am going to leave it unpotted overnight, and do the dirty work tomorrow when it is light. Did I mention the tree has been mostly uprooted for almost three weeks prior, and was sitting in dry soil anyway? (I gave in and saved the poor sapling.)

I think the tree will be all right.
1) The tree is a boxwood. Boxwoods are quite hardy. Quite.
2) I am soaking the tree in water and B vitamins. The vitamin is supposed to increase water uptake, meaning the plant can rehydrate faster.
3) I will care for the plant. I will ensure it has proper food and watering. I will shelter it from the wind, yet give it sunlight. I will plant it in a soil which will nourish the roots.
4) I will not style it until it is healthy.
5) It is winter. In winter the tree is not very active. A dormant tree doesn't need much water, so the dry soil it was in wasn't a problem, nor is taking a long time to pot the plant.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Individual Bonsai Histories

Today I showed a friend the bonsai tree I have been working on for her. This is always a great experience. My friend and her family gushed about how lovely it was and how special they felt. I think the most exciting part was not the nice shape of the tree or the fabulous naturally sharied trunk. The most exciting part is the tree's history. I rescued this plant, species unknown, from the garden in front of my friend's workplace. It was planted on one side of a walkway but its partner on the other side had died. I plunked it in my garden as a plant-plant, but when I dug it up it clearly had a bonsai trunk. The plant budded back well, as well. My friend had since done wonderful things at that workplace and informed me that the plant and her started at that company at the same time - in the beginning, 12 years ago. I have had the plant for 5 years. I have been training it for 3 years and I have known I was going to give it to my friend for 2 years now. Today is the first time my friend saw it but she has known about it for about 6 months.
By the way, she gave me Christmas cookies.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Powdery Mildew on Rosemary

My rosemary has powdery mildew.
This seems bad, but it has had powdery mildew for about 6 months. Because the powdery mildew didn't do anything but make the leaves look mouldy, I have left it alone. Had the leaves started dying, I would have tried to solve the problem immediately.
Anyway, I looked up the words "powdery mildew rosemary" at, a search engine. The search engine led me to a page which suggested several remedies including 5 mL baking soda to 1 l of water, drench the leaves every three days until the problem clears up; and the use of sulphur.
I will try the cheap soda trick first. If nothing happens in a month then I will start to dust the plant with powdered garden sulphur.

Appendix: Feb 13/07
When I applied the mixture of soda and water to the two infected rosemary plants, most of the infected needle tissue blackend immediately. This resulted in the death of one of the plants, as it was very infected. On the other plant, the needles were only partially coated with the powdery fungus. Hence only half the needle died. It is important to note that not all the needles which were infected died, but about half of them. On the plant that died, all of the surviving needles were old needles which were likely to be shed this year. So the surviving seems in fair health. There is one loonie sized spot of powdery mildew which has persisted about 6 applications with the original mixture of soda and water.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Animals attack bonsai

There is some kind of animal. It comes into my yard at night and throws my small boxwood off the table to the ground. This has happened three times now.
The boxwood has not been potted from its old nursery soil to bonsai soil. What this means is that the roots of my boxwood are more or less fine because the nursery soil is compacted and holds the roots in place. If the plant were in bonsai soil, most of the soil would fall off the roots if the tree fell off the table. Then one would have the problem of replanting stress to deal with, in addition to the stress of being dropped. (breakage, moss loss, bending out of shape)
What am I going to do about it? I secured the plant to the pot more firmly with wire looped through the bottom holes and twisted tightly at the top, to aid the safekeeping of the roots. I hope the animal doesn't come back.

growing bonsai stock

I made some decisions today to wire or trim certain things. In particular, I need to pay more attention to the branching of my young larches, the branches are easy to see now the needles are all gone. There are too many branches on these trees. I need to think ahead to how big I want these trees to be. Then I need to thin out the branches to a final few branches which will be part of the complete bonsai. Those, and a sacrifice branch or three to thicken the tree trunk up faster.