Since the last post (clicketh hither) I’ve had some great growth. So much so that I’m glad I was wandering and wondering around the nursery looking for something to do.
If I hadn’t been looking I would have lost shape on some of these and I would have had to start over.
Some of the trees from that last post have been sold so I’m introducing a few new ones. The two main subjects of that one are still here though.
Here’s a new one first
Primarily I’ll be dealing with the mid-season or secondary pruning that’s required if you want well regulated growth and not wild growth.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the first and second branches are growing up.
If I don’t correct them (bad branches) I’ll have a tree with three apices and a big knot.
So it’s to be the wire then….I don’t like to wire in the summer on elms. They grow fast and wire will cut in. And wire cuts on small elms don’t heal as well as on ficus.
First some cleanup and pruning decisions.
At this point I don’t need these little weak twigs (they’re in the wrong place anyway)
And now is a good time to re-cut the wound (on this particular elm. It must be reevaluated for each tree) to speed up and advance the healing process.
What does that mean?
Well, sometimes the callous will just slow down and stop. To reactivate the mechanism you first smooth down the deadwood and then recut the inside edge of the wound. It works.
This will be the eventual leader
I’m not going to prune the current leader off just yet. I still want some more girth on it and some more healing. This is what is called a sacrifice branch.
Let’s cut and wire
And that’s all I’ll do on this one.
Next is the elm I chopped in the last post.
Compared to how we left it
It’s like a whole n’other tree.
Them’s two twigs have all growed up
It’s funny, the one on the right in the first pic looks bigger yet it was the left one that is bigger now.
Or, as I’ve said before, I’m delusional.

Too bad for righty though, he must be removed
And since I’ve achieved the thickness (in a few months!) I want for “numba wan branch” I’ll cut it back too.
And I think I’ll cut the trunk to a line too.
Why am I doing that with this one and not the previous one?
The growth is so much more vigorous, I just feel (and it is pure feeling. Like a Jedi) that this is what needs doing now.
Now for some wire.
One bad result from a trunk chop is that the angle of the new leader is usually too extreme and or leaning too far forward.
That’s why we use wire I guess
Better right?
At this point in the narrative I would like to point out that, even though the leader has been wired and bent, and you cannot see my hands, I promise that I used two hands while bending.
In the next two pics.
I will adamantly assure you that, in the bending process, I had two hands present at all times on the branch in question.
But, since I have only two hands and no assistants or apprentices, I could only take a photo with one hand at a time on the branch. The other hand held the camera ( I am taking a correspondence course on telekinesis and soon all my branch placement will be done by mind power alone. It’s a pay-per-increment class and the last installment of the curriculum will reveal the final secret.)

And since I’m not a web designer with fancy photoshop capabilities, you will have to take both photos and, in your imagination, pretend I’m actually bending the branch with the proper and correct bracing using two (2) hands.

Seriously though, bend branches with two hands. I’ll show you how in an upcoming post called
“Wiring for fun, profit and effect”.

And that’s all I have to do to this tree today
The next tree was one I was going to use for the original S-curve post but didn’t, for some reason. Maybe I am a psycho, er I mean psychic, after all
I chopped this one and potted it into the training pot last year.
A little wound work
A little snip-snip
Some wire and two-handed branch placement

And Bob’s your uncle!

And lastly, if you remember this tree
I’ve let it grow, unwired it, cut it, wired it again and trimmed it twice since the last post.
No, really.
The branches need thickening but it’s still developing beyond expectations.

That’s all for now, I think I’ve made enough of a mess

As a parting shot I’ll again (Jeez, he’s always showing off this tree, gimme a break) show you my favorite little elm.
I’m proud to say that it was an S-curve.

17 thoughts

  1. Great timing with this post. Coincidentally I just got my first Chinese elm. It doesn’t have that S-curve mallsai look, but this post (and your first post elm post) are giving me good ideas on how to develop it.


  2. “Two Hand Bending” — How about some hints on the wiring and bending – such as how acute an angle and when to *stop* before you hear an awful *snap* or *crunch*, indicating now you have to chop and start over (later).


    1. All that depends on variety of the tree (and sometimes even individual trees) and the style of your bonsai.
      I usually look at the bark at the bend and watch for tearing. The tree can handle some (again, depending on the tree) but don’t push it.


      1. How about a middle finger sized Podocarpus? Which is best – bend it all at one time to see what happens or bend a little more every other day or once a week? As you can see, I’m not swimming in the deep end, yet.

        Adam, in the short time I’ve been following you, I’ve developed a great appreciation and good opinion of you and enjoy your positive approach. I believe that is one reason (other than having a green thumb) that you have achieved such successes – you’re not afraid to screw it up! If “it” happens, tell everyone that’s exactly what you had intended and make something good of it. 🙂


      2. Thanks Mills.
        A podocarpus could be very flexible and you could be able to bend it all at one time. It depends on the age of the branch. A podo could grow finger size in a year under the right circumstances and that branch could be almost tied in a knot. Hopefully that helps


      3. Thanks. This is probably a 2 or 3 year old branch that I cut off the trunk base of a nursery plant (stripping out some roots with it) and planted. I’ve given it about 6 weeks and it’s got new growth on it now. So I figure that it’s settled in enough to try some training.


  3. You know my Uncle Bob?
    Do you ever air layer? or do you always just compost the tops after you chop them? That first one on “clicketh hither” could easily have been [at least] two nice trees.
    And I’m with Mills. You have a great humorous, direct approach. Reading your blog has given me courage in all aspects of shaping trees.


    1. I do air layer sometimes but you can’t do that all times of the year. I’ve also rooted the tops as cuttings. But again, you can’t do that all the time.
      Thank you for your readership and compliments. I try hard to make this blog more than a dry instruction manual or a place where I post my best trees. I wish for people to see that it’s a process to get from a to b to c and sometimes the step is not pretty. I could only work on trees that are near completion and make it look like “magic” (a friend once told me “to be a great bonsai artist you just need to work on great trees”) but that approach seems disingenuous to me.
      Give me a challenge any day.
      Thanks again


  4. I just bought two bonsai Jade trees with my fiancé. We are fish out of water. I want to nurture Fred and Ethel into old age. I too enjoy your humor and insight very much, yes she really did say that!
    This is awesome! I am getting a lot of new info! Being a novice though is complicated and amazing and overwhelming so small starter hint- soil mix, type of pot, where they like it full sun? By the sun? I was told to not fertilize in the summer- does that include after I repot. You probably get these questions quite often. I would love any books you dig on bonsai too. My mother has a huge jade tree that I love. I would love to creat a sprawling canopy. The pots I bought are ceramic and have no drainage holes. About 3″ high and 7″x 3″ length/width. The nursery where we bought them suggested a book Bonsai 101 and joining the Bonsai society that meets there, at the nursery we bought the bonsai. I have always loved bonsai. I’m kind of afraid of them but I love a challenge. Also I love your husband and wife ficus story.. Can I do that with Jade? Thanks again Adam for keepin it real and just being who you are… Sometimes I laugh out loud. That’s a good feeling- the trees rock though! Not just how impressive they are but all the stories of the how, why, naked, dressed and fixed up they reAlly are the stars who flourish like Merlin in a children’s magic show! Thank you thank you bonsai mastermind!


    1. A lot of questions. Let’s see….you need bonsai soil, full sun, you need to fertilize through the summer (not sure why they told you that) but most importantly, you need drainage holes in the pots. Jades need well draining soil and, therefore, drain holes.
      You can do a husband wife with them.
      Thank you for all the kind words, I probably don’t deserve them.


      1. Is bonsai soil best made or can I buy it prepackaged? Special fertilizer you use?
        Well your humor is refreshing so you have a special blog for newbies?


      2. In small quantities it’s probably best bought prepackaged. There are many places that sell it. I know that Orlando Bonsai and Wigert’s Bonsai’s soil is quality stuff.
        I use a regular, organically derived fertilizer called Milorganite. I’d recommend steering away from specialty “bonsai” soil. Sometimes it’s repackaged and it’s always expensive.


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