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Posted 4M ago by @sarahsalith

Does anyone here have #Bonsai #BonsaiTrees? I would like to learn about how to care for them.
I have a few plants that are in need of a trim. I have:
#BrazilianRainTree
#Operculicarya Elephant Tree
#Pomegranate
#GoldenRainTree
#WhiteCedar
#BreyniaDisticha ... to name a few.
#HappyPlants #PlantsMakePeopleHappy #PlayingWithPlantsInsteadOfWorking #PlantTherapy #BravelyBonsai #PlantAddict -- duh.
Best Answer
@sarahsalith On your second tree, again, a lot depends on the look you want! Since the trunk is pretty thin and the branches are fairly long, you may want to leave the number of branches for now, but cut them back a ways. having branches lower on the tree will help the base grow thicker. If I were close to my pine, I could show you a picture, but on that tree I left a “sacrificial” branch really low on the trunk. That has allowed the trunk to start developing a nice taper. It’s too low for the final look that I’m wanting, though, so this spring or maybe next, I’ll prune it. Leaving the low branches on this one may do a similar thing, widening out the trunk until you like the shape.

Also, there’s nothing wrong with waiting! I’m going to give my newest bonsai several years to just “see what it does” before making a decision on what styling I’m going to do. I’m only half joking when I tell people “Yeah, my tree’s going to look great, just give it a few decades!” 😂
I have a juniper! I haven’t trimmed him yet though so would love to hear advice from others.
@ESylvanus I noticed that you stated #BravelyBonsai 😁 Do you have any tips for us?
@sarahsalith A lot of it depends on the specific tree! This time of year when it’s the end of the growing season, there’s usually not much to do, unfortunately, unless your tree is in desperate need of help (e.g. my new ficus who shouldn’t stay in coco coir will be repotted this weekend).

Usually, when growth starts picking up in spring, I’ll check if anyone needs repotting and do some trimming and wiring then. Definitely check back then, as I’d love to help any way I can! I’ll be posting tips/step-by-step photos to the hashtag, too!

I would love to see photos of your trees! Yours too, @Nataliesplants!
@ESylvanus that's awesome! So what you're saying is I don't have to do much now.

I've read about defoliating trees in the spring - is that something that should be done or only under certain circumstances?

This is the one that has my attention at the moment. I've trimmed it once and now I've just let it grow.
@ESylvanus also (since you're here) I have this one with lots and lots of tiny branches- should I let it grow and grow and then get around to trimming it in a year or so?

Letting the little branches grow as they will will allow the stems to become thicker, right?
@sarahsalith Your tree is beautiful! I wouldn’t recommend defoliating it; the main reason to defoliate is to encourage a new crop of smaller leaves. It’s good if you are working with something like a maple or an oak, where the leaves can get larger and ruin the “miniature tree” appearance. Since these leaves stay small, there’s no need to do it.

Do you have a particular style you’re trying to accomplish? I personally would trim some of the branches back, and try to encourage them to put out even more branches. Depending on the look you want, you might want to take some of the lower branches off to give more definition to the trunk (approx 1/3 trunk to 2/3 branches—very rough estimate), but again, a lot of that is about what appeals to you! When is the last time you repotted it?
@ESylvanus I haven't repotted it in about a year (maybe more than a year). When I put it in that pot, the roots were very short and sparse. I used some bonsai wire to secure it to the pot (I think). I was planning on pulling it from its pot on the spring.

I figure I need to cut it back in a month or so (when it's not growing) and get it to branch a bit more closer to the trunk.

I don't think I have a particular style yet. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. 😆
@ESylvanus I really appreciate your help! I'm excited and I'm glad I have something to test my patience in a good way. 😉
@sarahsalith The roots sound about right! You really won’t get root porn with bonsai, because keeping them trimmed helps keep the tree small. Sounds like you’re on the right track with it! Since you repotted last year, it should be fine for another year or two.

I usually wait until the growing season to trim mine, but since yours is indoors, it may be okay to do it in the fall. A few things to think about when shaping: find an angle you like for the front of the tree and start pruning with that view in mind. When you find the top growing point of your trunk, think of that as the apex of a triangle, and trim the branches roughly to that shape (see the attached [very poor] diagrams for ideas). Try to leave just a tiny space for die-back on the branches you trim (if you trim it flush, you may lose more than you intended). A little trick that I like to use if I’m not sure whether to take a branch out: I bend it out of the way and see if I like the result. Most important rule: all the rules are just guidelines. If you’re happy with how it looks, that’s all that matters!

It’s definitely a lot of fun to see a tree take shape! I look forward to updates!
@Nataliesplants are you getting all this? 😊 So much information!
@sarahsalith yes it’s great!! Thanks for double checking 😊
@ESylvanus thank you 😊 photo attached of my little guy!
@Nataliesplants oh! I love the moss!
@Nataliesplants So the moss is actually a little concerning. Is the rock actually part of the soil mix, or is it just decorative on top? Is it loose, or is any of it (rock or moss) glued down? I only ask because I have seen that happen at big box stores. Also, is there a really rocky, fast draining soil under the rock, or is it potting soil or coco coir? If it’s really well draining underneath, then a little moss will probably be okay, but it does tend to hold moisture that your tree may or may not like.

Depending on what’s under the rocks, I would recommend repotting your tree at your earliest convenience. I’d get a good bonsai mix for it, something that drains quickly and is mostly 1/8” lava rock, granite chips, and bark. As mentioned earlier, bonsai roots are trimmed to help keep them small, but that also puts them at greater risk for root rot. A well draining soil will help keep the tree healthy (just know you’ll have to water a bit more often).

I see that it looks like you’ve got the tree indoors; is that just temporary, or has it been inside for a while? If at all possible, your tree will need to live outside for most of it’s life. Junipers are temperate plants and need the cycle of seasons to stay healthy. With winter dormant season approaching, that’s even more important. I do bring my temperate bonsai indoors for display if I have company, but usually no longer than a couple days at a time.

It’s an absolutely adorable tree! As far as trimming, I would probably wait a little to see how it grows out. As it gets older, people tend to form little “pads” of growth on junipers, clearing out space between the branches so that it looks like “a bird could fly through it”. Also, when shortening the tips if the branches where you want to keep it full, you’ll want to get a good pair of gloves and actually tear the branch tips instead of cutting them. It sounds violent, but that actually encourages those tips to put out more growth and helps it get fuller.
@ESylvanus oh lots of good info! So the moss isn’t attached and I usually wait until it’s dry to water so it doesn’t upset the tree, but maybe it’s worth just getting rid of? The pebbles are just decorative and there is soil underneath. I would say whatever soil they used is pretty compact and I usually water it until I see it start to drip out which takes about 5 seconds so it’s definitely moisture retaining. Good to know about potting. When I bought from the nursery about 4 months ago it was indoors and they said as long as it got enough light that it’s fine. However your point makes sense. Do you just leave yours outside in your pot? Do they do ok with freezing temps? Thank you so much for your recommendations I’m really new to bonsais!
@Nataliesplants Yes, mine stays outside all year in its pot. Depending on your location, so people will actually bury the pot in the ground if it get really cold out. If you have an unheated garage, you could put it in there after the first frost if that works better. Here in NC, it doesn’t get too cold, so I just bring it close to my apartment to shield it from the wind. When I lived in Kansas, I mulched it in on the north side of my parents’ house.

As far as light goes, junipers love full sun. Most homes just can’t really replicate that very well. I tried to grow them inside a couple of times, and both times ended up killing the tree. It may be possible, but I usually recommend against it, given what happened to mine.

Honestly, I would probably just get rid of the dried moss. It looks nice, but it does make caring for your tree a little more challenging.
@Nataliesplants @ESylvanus I have killed two junipers by keeping them inside. It's frustrating when they are sold as inside plants because they are not!
@sarahsalith yes glad I stumbled upon this thread! I’ll give my guy some much needed outside time. Just out of curiosity did it take a long time for them to die when kept inside?
@sarahsalith Ugh, I hate that! You really want to be able to trust what the seller tells you, so it’s just sad when they tell you the wrong thing! Honestly, my best resource for bonsai was a club that met at a nursery not far from where I lived. They taught me a lot of things, including keeping junipers outside. I had no success at all until I started learning from them!
@Nataliesplants It took a while. Probably a few months, but it’s hard to remember exactly. Your little guy looks like he’s in good shape, still, so I’m sure he’ll be alright!
@Nataliesplants it took about four months of west, summer sun for it to completely die. I tried to save them, but I was too late. Now I leave mine outside.

I've moved them into the greenhouse since the weather is getting colder and they are more tropical plants.
@ESylvanus @sarahsalith phew that’s what I was worried about. Good to to know I have time to be a better plant parent! Also very jealous you have a greenhouse!
@sarahsalith beautiful, I have one but she’s just a year old. I planted her by seeds. Recently repotted her so she’s just now coming out of that. Found some white bugs on her just now and soaked her in neem oil. Have to keep her away from all the rest but keep an eye on her. I pray she gets as big as yours. She has multiple trunks hoping they will grow together as one.
@AceFrithia I LOVE the multiple trunks! I saw a picture of your tree- it's incredible!

How long did it take to germinate the seeds?

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