Forum Posts

dlmcpeters
Dec 09, 2021
In RMBS Forum
If you are looking for lime sulfur to treat dead wood, Jeffers.com is another source. It is a pet supply site. Apparently people dip their pets in a diluted solution. They sell a more concentrated version that bonsai outlets.
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dlmcpeters
Nov 02, 2021
In RMBS Forum
This is a microcarpa ficus. It started from a cutting in 2019. It was repotted into the pot in June 2020. It has been wired and pruned several times over the past year. My original thought was some kind of cascade. The big middle trunk was allowed to grow to thicken the main trunk. Beyond that I have never been happy with it. So today, was the day to redesign. It was pretty straight forward. Cut off everything except the small branch on the lower left in the photo at right above and then wire the branch down to start a cascade. And I have a nice cutting to root and perhaps turn into a twin trunk or mother and daughter design.
Big change in design direction (finally) content media
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dlmcpeters
Sep 25, 2021
In RMBS Forum
I am often ask about defoliating ficus in Colorado. If you look at the blogs of people in their native range they defoliate a lot. Often they defoliate before wiring and even a couple times a year. My usual response is I don't defoliate as standard practice, but sometimes I do and the best time is in the middle of summer when the tree is growing vigorously. This is an example. The first four pictures span the time from August 21st through September 20th. Not exactly the middle of the summer, but there was still (I thought) 6 weeks of recovery time outdoors before the cold weather set in. The first two pictures are before and after defoliation on August 21st. I removed all the foliage and some of the larger branches and shortened all of the long branches. I then placed it in full sun. I reason that all new growth will be acclimated to Colorado sun and doesn't need protection. The next two pictures show the new growth by September 20th. The first shows all the growth before pruning and the second after removing all the new grow growing up and down and cutting back original branches to 2 or 3 sets of new growth. Examples of the latter at the end. I moved the tree indoors under lights on September 20th. First example of branch pruning on September 20th. Before After large branch on right completely removed and smaller branch on left shortened Second example Before After long branch on right shortened. There is a small shoot on the left leaving 2 shoots Third example Before After long branch on right shortened and stub on left removed. I probably should have cut the left back to the shoot half way down. Fourth example After shortening the branch in the middle Fifth example. This is difficult piece to work. That big knot in middle is a result of a branch (going out the back on the right) and an aerial root from the branch that wraps around the trunk (going out the back on the left). And there is another branch that comes off the bottom of the knot going left. Eventually the whole thing may be cut off. I have been trying unsuccessfully to preserve the aerial root but now that it has bonded with the trunk I can probably remove the knot. After shortening the branch coming off the bottom of the knot and cleaning up some of the remaining new foliage.
Defoliating ficus in Colorado content media
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dlmcpeters
Apr 14, 2021
In RMBS Forum
Today I came into possession of the Ficus microcarpa pictured below. It was originally Frank Hiraoko's. He was a member of the original Denver Bonsai club. His family donated it to DBG after he died in 2014. In December of 2014 it was pruned back to a stump. I started wiring it in October 2019. Then COVID came. Now I am thinking about where to take it. It hasn't been repotted since at least 2014 and the root ball is solid. You can lift it out of the pot intact. So the first thing will be to repot it this summer. I like the trunk line up to the lowest red line. After that it get kind of straight. I am interested in peoples ideas about styling. I could air layer it at the first or second red lines. My current thinking is the second. There are several long branches that can be used for through grafts. I think that low left branch will eventually go. Thoughts?
Styling question content media
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dlmcpeters
Mar 19, 2021
In RMBS Forum
I have two stone bookends I want to use to do a ficus over a structure planting. See the pictures. I want to use them back to back with a gap between as in the second picture. I anticipate there will be trunks and roots in the gap and I will thread roots through the carvings on the fronts. But if I don't connect them in some way, over time the trunks and roots in the gap will force them apart and destroy the planting. I thought about letting that happen and ending up with a 'decayed' structure look but the stones themselves will always look undecayed so that won't work. If I am lucky in time the trunks and roots will fill the gap so it will won't be seen. Any suggestions on how to permanently connect them 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart without it being visible?
Need ideas of how to connect carved stone content media
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dlmcpeters
Mar 14, 2021
In RMBS Forum
Here are the before and after pictures of some work done today. This is a microcarpa 'kaneshiro' I bought online in August 2015. I have never been able to decide what to do with this one. I started today thinking to style it formally with a layered canopy. I thought that would be good wiring practice and it might work. One problem I have always had with this one is it was a trunk chop and had lots of thick vertical branches chopped at the ends. Over the years I have been taking them out. But it still stumped me. This is my only kaneshiro so I can't make a blanket statement but this one throws out lots of shoots off the main trunk and at all the primary branch junctions. So every working session requires a lot of thinning of shoots. Useful to replace the original vertical branches. I did the left, right, back branches and then realized that the canopy was still lots of thick branches and ugly. So I changed course and took out 7 branches in the very top. A picture of those follows the before and after shots. Before. Looks like a shrub. No definition of branches. After. Main branches set now. Possibly one more you can see in the back just off the left of the top. Really starting over since now I have to regrow the branches and canopy. I am still not satisfied but at least I see a path. Just at the very top you can see where I shortened it with a trunk chop a couple of years ago. The branch on the upper left almost as tall as the crown is the top of the aerial 'root' on the left. It is actually a rooted cutting I am approach grafting to create an aerial root. Below are branches removed form the top. They will make nice cuttings to root. Here is a picture of when I first received it. You can see there is a thick straight segment at the top. That is what I removed a couple of years ago. Same day, root ball before and after. The saw to the right is to cut off the bottom half of the root ball to start. Notice it is in pure organic soil. Here is 1 year later in December 2018. I don't like the straight trunk. It isn't going to be a deciduous tree in the Midwest landscape. Next September of 2017. Looks like a badly pruned shrub. And finally July 2018. Branches wired down. Doesn't work. The second up on the left died in 2019.
Sometimes you start over, more than once content media
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dlmcpeters
Feb 26, 2021
In RMBS Forum
I can't start working on any conifers or deciduous trees this early in the year, so I go through my tropicals kept indoors looking for pests, taking off or putting on wire, and cleaning them up. This is a small Microcarpa started from a cutting ~3 years ago. The pot is 5 inches in diameter at the top and the tree is a little over 10 inches. The trunk at the base is a little over 1/2 inch. I haven't done anything to it except let it grow and it looks like I cut off one lead at some point. Because it has so many branches low on the trunk I decided to try and grow a medium informal upright using most of those branches as sacrifice branches to thicken the trunk at the base. With my growing conditions this is a 5 to 10 project. I identified 3 branches to keep plus the lead. Below is one of the branches before I shortened it. The second picture below shows the cut. I later took off the thick stub back to the smaller secondary on the left. The zip ties in the picture are my method of marking the branches to keep. A zip tie for one to keep. A sacrifice has no zip tie. I reverse that and use wire when there are fewer sacrifices than keepers. Add some wire to put structural movement in the keeper branches and lead and it is done. I will start fertilizing twice a month in March with a liquid fertilizer then move it outdoors when the night temperatures are reliably above 50 degrees. I will use Osmocote Plus twice, once when it goes outdoors and once more mid summer, and apply a liquid fertilizer every two weeks while it is outdoors. Once back indoors I will fertilize once a month with a liquid fertilizer. That is the plan for the year. Let it grow. At this point I am only working on the trunk, making sure it has some movement and just letting it extend and thicken. The keeper branches are actually just possibilities and may come off in the future. The sacrifice branches will remain until I am satisfied with the thickness of the trunk or until they start getting to large and cutting them results in a large scar to heal. The wire will probably come off in early summer. This fall when I move it indoors I will prune to eliminate junctures with more than 2 branches. I also may add some wire. I think wiring in the fall when moving indoors to lower light can help by spreading the branches to maximize the exposed leaf mass. No repot this year, perhaps in 2022. Next spring brings another evaluation based on progress from 2021. Time for patience.
Start of a long range Ficus project content media
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dlmcpeters
Feb 20, 2021
In RMBS Forum
These are native to central/northern China, Japan, and Korea. In the springtime you can find them at any big box store or nursery. The challenge is finding one with a single trunk or just two or three. Most of what is sold is a thicket of small trunks. I purchased this from a Home Depot in 2012. Mike Horine noticed they had several with single thick trunks. This first picture is from Feb 2021. It is ready for the new growing season. I keep it in the garage over the winter. You can't tell from the picture, but the buds are starting to swell. Soon I will be hauling it into the sun each day and back into the garage at night. The substrate mix is equal parts Akadama, Lava, Pumice, and Organic. This is the only burning bush I have kept so everything I think is a case of one. A couple of observations. I have had no success cutting back a larger branch to before any secondary branches. I am surprised by this since it is basically a bush that people shear in the landscape. You can see one I did in 2019 in the crotch 2/3 of the way up on the left. I now only cut back to just after a secondary branch. It does bud back well on the trunk, you can see a couple about mid way up, and older branches. So for the longer branches I need to shorten I wait and hope to see something bud out. At the point of the cut it will push out lots of small branches. These need to be reduced to two that year otherwise the cut end will turn into a large knob. I have heard from a very reputable source that these can be pruned back to one bud pair in early summer after they have hardened off and they will push out a second flush. I tried that last year. It wasn't very successful, only about 10% second flush. I think my mistake was that I repotted it in March last year and I should have let it go for a year to recover. The plan for this year is to let it grow and strengthen all summer, minimal fertilizer in the spring and then a bit more into the fall to prepare for 2022. So far it hasn't really earned the name burning bush. The fall color tends to be a brownish red instead of the flaming red they are known for. Perhaps this year. Below is a picture from March 2017. Notice the differences in the new twigs which are green, the ones a bit older which still have the green but are starting to have brown ribs along the branch, and the oldest where it is completely barked over like the trunk.
Euonymus alatus or burning bush content media
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dlmcpeters
Feb 11, 2021
In RMBS Forum
A ficus I bought years ago with the dreaded S curve. I tried various positions and looks and none were satisfactory. So I decided on this position. The vertical branch on top needs more development. I wired it up to let it grow because it was a small branch. I think it needs to be shortened a bit and more rounded with a bit more branching to the right. Thoughts?
What do you think? content media
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dlmcpeters
Jan 11, 2021
In RMBS Forum
I know some people are using expanded shale and wonder if there are details available on it for bonsai, especially for cation exchange capacity. thank you Mikl Brawner
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dlmcpeters
Jan 11, 2021
In RMBS Forum
Now is a perfect time to go outdoors, observe, listen, and just enjoy the outdoors. There are plenty of interesting things to see in winter in any garden, open space, or house. Take a photo. Post it here. Below is my contribution. A piece of deadwood that resembles Smaug the dragon. At least I think so.
Going a little stir crazy? content media
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dlmcpeters
Nov 06, 2020
In RMBS Forum
I have a nice piece of deadwood (azalea) I want to use to start a phoenix graft next spring. I am wondering if I should treat it this winter to help preserve it and if so with what?
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dlmcpeters
Aug 16, 2020
In RMBS Forum
This is a ficus bond I started in early 2013 by tying several rooted whips together. One of the first I tried. It had mostly bonded by late 2014. Here it is in 2014. For the next 3 years I didn't do a lot with it other than let it grow, cut it back, and repeat. I didn't know what I was doing and let the upper branches get too thick. Here is a photo from 2017. So for the last 3 years I have been cutting it way back to develop new branches that are in proportion. Still a long way to go. In the summer it stays outdoors and in the winter it stays in a cool basement under lights in front of a northwest facing window. This spring for a reason I still haven't figured out most of the leaves turned brown and dropped. I am guessing I let it dry out to much. I have found that when this happens it is an opportunity for hard pruning and defoliation. I have done this several times and all came back. So in Late April I completely defoliated and hard pruned. Unfortunately I do not have a picture. Then in early June it was moved outdoors still pretty bare. The first picture is from August 16th. All that foliage is new. The second picture is after I pruned it to thin out and eliminate 'unneeded' branches. The shape is off because I still have some minor bonds in process and I need those trunks and whips to really grow. And there are still some sacrifice branches. I would not intentionally defoliate except in the summer when they are growing vigorously, but it can be done at other times.
Defoliation of a ficus content media
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dlmcpeters
Aug 01, 2020
In RMBS Forum
I purchased this at the father's day show in 2012. It is a leguminous tree from tropical Africa and in its natural habitat it produces an edible pod like fruit. Mine has never produced fruit. It took some time to learn how to care for it. Interestingly I keep it indoors under lights all year round now. It did not prosper when I put it our doors in the summer. That may have been due to my not caring for it correctly. Next year I am going to try outdoors again. The first 2 pictures are before and after pruning. It is a vigorous grower and I typically prune it to this extent once and often twice a year. Although it is a vigorous grower I have not seen the trunk girth increase much in the past 8 years. But it does have interesting bark.
Tamarindus indica content media
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dlmcpeters
Jul 04, 2020
In RMBS Forum
I have always used our house tap water to water my trees. It is alkaline, about 7.5 to 8, and very hard, GH 180 and KH 240. The worst problem it has caused that I am aware of is lots of scale on pots and sometimes leaves. Now I have a couple of nice trees that prefer acid soil and softer water. I can take care of the Ph by adding acid to the water. That is what I do with hydroponics. But all the solutions to hard water (softners and RO) are not something I want to use. Rainwater seems to be the best DYI solution. It tends toward neutral/acidic and is not hard. That works in the summer time where it is easy to collect and use. Somehow I am not there to collect snow and ice melt in the winter. But I guess I could. The only downside I see is; I have raccoons around the house. Sometimes they go on the roof so I would have raccoon poop soup. And no, killing off the raccoons is not an option. I could buy distilled water but the ones I have measured would need the Ph lowered. Thoughts? Lessons learned?
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dlmcpeters
Jun 28, 2020
In RMBS Forum
Darell Havener and I have had an ongoing discussion about growing roots for ficus both under ground and aerial. That is one advantage of being retired, you have the time to ponder the really important questions. Anyway about 5 years ago we were considering whether Coir (basically shredded coconut husks) would be a good medium. So in January of 2015 I planted a willow leaf ficus in coarse coir (1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes) in a colander. The thought was the coarse coir would allow plenty of oxygen and retain moisture. In the original planting the coir came above the two trunk aerial roots you see. They developed between 2015 and 2017. Since 2015 then I have pruned it a couple of times. It dropped its leaves once or twice. Today I pulled it and repotted it. The experiment was a failure. See the photo below of the roots. That is pretty much how they looked in 2015 when I started and in 2017. The fine roots had grown out to the colander, but they break off easily when eliminating the coir. The trunk got fatter in the five years. For this repotting I wired the two aerial roots coming off the trunk to the trunk in hopes they will fuse. That is a Bruce Murdock pot I bought at the Christmas auction last year. Coir may be good for orchids but I get better results with other substrate mixes.
The end of an experiment content media
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dlmcpeters
Jun 11, 2020
In RMBS Forum
Here are the before and after pictures. It was collected in 2018 and this is the first work that has been done. Actually the before picture isn't before anything was done. The large branch descending on the left had already been pulled down with a guy wire. originally it was almost horizontal. I would appreciate and and all critiques. I am still relatively new at working with ponderosas.
Care to critique a structural setting of a ponderosa? content media
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dlmcpeters
May 10, 2020
In RMBS Forum
Here is the ficus today. I need to do something about the 2 horizontal branches on the left. The lower ledf branch is to straight for the first segment. To thick to bend easily and I don't really want to cut a wedge in the bottom. So I am thinking about addressing it with an angle change repot. Which do you like best of the below? Both will require modifying the canopy. One? Or two?
Trying to decide on a repot for a ficus content media
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dlmcpeters
Apr 08, 2020
In RMBS Forum
One data point about hydroponics. The 4 tomato plants in the photo were started late February in 3X3 rock wool blocks. On March 6th the 2 on the right were transferred to a hydroponics setup and the 2 on the left were put into an enclosed frame indoors. Both were under LED lights. Humidity around the hydroponics is about 40% and temperatures range from 60 to 70. Humidity in the enclosed frame is close to 100% and temperatures range from 60 to 70. The 2 on the left were actually starting to fail so I potted them up today. The 2 on the right were getting to large and starting to spread and the rightmost one appeared to be wilting so I potted them up today. They are now in the daily shuffle of plants out into the sun on warm days.
Not bonsai content media
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dlmcpeters

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