Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Misadventures in bonsai...despite my initial enthusiasm, my first two bonsai projects did not fare so well...can you tell how crispy-dry these poor victims are? There's another one I wintered over outdoors that's near-death also...*sigh*. And while I plan to take up this hobby in ernest eventually, for now I'll be content with "half-assed" outdoor bonsai projects like this lilac. Keeping it potted is helping to make it small, and if I don't commit to any root pruning, then the watering needs will stay manageable for my space-cadet "care" skills! I wired the stems for a "windswept" look, and it's been like this for 2 years now. Recently I read on a bonsai site somewhere that you can "trick" the plant into producing smaller leaves if you actually cut the leaves in half. So...

...I did, and it seems to be working!

Not satisfied with this apparent sucess, I decided to trim the remaining leaves even smaller....


...then I removed the suckers, inspected the wires to be sure they aren't binding....okay! So for now, this is as bonsai as I'm getting!

7 comments:

chuck b. said...

I want to learn bonsai too. But it seems very unlikely to happen any time soon. Sigh. I want bonsai to be my retired-old-man hobby. If I started now, I'd have good skills and mature specimens to sell for $$$ by the time I'm a retired old man. Doesn't that seem like a good idea.

So cuting the leaves is something you do in bonsai? I cut leaves like that when I propagate cuttings. I'm trying to think why I do that... I can't think right now.

lisa said...

There are a lot of people selling good bonsai plants on Ebay, many are "starters", like the pictured Serissa I killed-it already had exposed roots when I bought it. Another trick I read about is to leave one really low branch on a tree to cause the trunk to thicken up more, and give that "tiny but mature-looking tree" appearance...too bad I read that only AFTER I'd trimmed all lowers off the lilac! It really is a cool type of gardening, but several things (esp. watering) can get tricky...the plants just need more attention than I can devote right now. Like you said-great retirement project!

chuck b. said...

Yeah, that low branch trick is important for thickening the trunks of shrubs and trees planted in the garden too. They say as the tree grows, to cut the lowest lateral branches back to the first or second bud. This keeps the tissue feeding the branches active, which thickens the trunk. Then after a number of years when you have a stout trunk ready to become a tree, you remove the lowest laterals entirely. I missed that lesson myself on a bush/tree specimen in my yard I was impatient to make tree-like. It's a multi-trunk affair, and all the trunks are kinda scrawny. Oh, well. It still looks fine, imo.

MrBrownThumb said...

Lisa,

The other trick is to give the plant more light. The more light a bonsai gets the smaller the leaves because they don't need as much leaf surface to capture sun.

Leslie said...

I try not to walk close to bonsai plants in stores etc. because of my great ability to kill them...

Ki said...

I wonder how many of those little gift bonsai plants have ended up in the landfill? I know we've added our share. Forget a watering and you have a crisp dried little tree. Easy to do since the small flat ceramic planter and gravelly soil don't hold very much water.

Very nice trick about cutting the leaf in half. I'll have to remember that.

lisa said...

Chuck-heh...I do the same thing! I have several scrawny-trunked trees and bushes pruned as standards, but hey, live and learn! (I think they look fine that way, too.)

Mr. Brown Thumb-thank you! I clearly need all the help I can get! ;-)

Leslie-heh, I know the feeling...

Ki-yea, thus far the watering seems to be my biggest problem. It's just such a critical factor with bonsai, and I just don't have enough time to keep up with it now. But hopefully someday...