I had a request from a reader, Tom for this update and considering the growth, I guess I should have revisited these trees a little earlier.
Here are the two main elms
The first tree is a Chinese elm (ulmus parviflora) and the second is ulmus alata (winged elm).
Both are root cuttings (as are all the trees here).
Basically, a root cutting is a root that’s been pruned off another tree and has sprouted from the cut end. The previous post (here) really explains the process more.
I’ll revisit these trees too
And I’ll introduce this one to the mix
Lets start with the winged elm
This was how I left it
I took the wire off mid spring. And trimmed it at that time too. I should have rewired it at that time too. It’s pushed itself back horizontal.
Maybe a winged elm doesn’t want to be a cascade? Well….
There’s no tree that really wants to be a cascade.
This one more so than others I guess.
Let me trim it a bit; it does like to grow.
You’ll notice above that the cut is almost closed.
Here’s the “before” wiring.
Notice in the next pic
There is a wire cut mark where my index finger is pointing. It was pretty bad and has grown out and is almost gone.
My middle finger is for Tony and his “present”.
I added it to my bucket, my friend, thanks for your contribution-

Sorry, I digress.
I’ll need to rewire the main cascade back down.
Here’s a tip: to ensure that you don’t break the branch when doing an extreme bend, you need to listen for cracks, feel for the tension (a sudden release of that tension is not good) and look at the branch.
Before the bend
After the bend
Do you see the cracks?
That’s about as far as I want to go with an elm. Some trees you can push more, some you don’t want to see that at all.
I think I got enough bend on it.
We are no longer tickling the horizontal plane.
Next tree I’ll do is…….
This one: American elm
But there’s nothing to do. I trimmed it up last month. I should wire it but I’m not sure I like it’s position in the pot or even the pot. I’ll wait until I can repot it next spring.
Ok, next is this Chinese elm little guy.
It just needs a trim and some wire.
It got longer.

Too bad that doesn’t happen with all types of dangly growths.
Next tree is the other winged elm.
It wants to grow up too, but the main trunk is already too woody that it won’t move; it’s just the branches that I’m fighting.
Unwire, trim
What next?
How about the other Chinese elm?
I’ve unwired, cut back and trimmed this since you’ve seen it last.
It’s thickened up considerably (that’s what she said……..sorry. Had to do it). 20130906-132219.jpg
The wound has just about healed
I unwired it and cut it back mid spring and the major cut was at the end of the cascade
I cut it for taper and for movement.
Let’s examine the soil. There’s something I want to show you.
There’s moss on it, which means it’s been pretty wet. But do you see the blackish stuff?
Kinda like brown jello, right? I originally thought it was a slime mold but, after some research, I discovered that is a thing called nostoc, a type of bacteria colony(Cyanobacteria).
It is actually eaten by some, and some common names for it are: witches jelly, trolls jelly or star jelly. It is usually not noticeable except as a dried, black leathery sheet until it gets wet and it then swells up and turns into this delectable slime.
It has loads of vitamin c and protein.
Or it doesn’t.
There’s a version that’s used in Asia called fat choy (nostoc flagelliforme), used in birds nest soup, that supposedly has no nutritional value and has compounds in it that contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
I’ll refer you to one of my favorite websites, Eat The Weeds (click here) for mo’ betta’ 411 (that means the information is cogent and precise. Something I sometimes have a hard time doing.)
Let’s look at the roots-
My growing mix (which is not really well represented here) is comprised of 1part commercial potting mix, 1 part perlite and 1 part calcined clay.
The roots look good and I should be able to pot this up into a nice ceramic pot next year, considering the growth I’m getting.
I had removed the wire, as I said, mid spring, and also pruned it back.
It needs another trim.
This spot wants a branch
This is the second time I’m cutting here
Stubborn tree.
In order to mitigate the one bad wire mark
and to bend the main branch, a bit more wire is needed.
That should do the trick.
A little more wire and a lot more bending.
Oh, wait, a myth busting moment.
You’ve been told that crossing wires is bad. Kinda like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters (for you youngsters, that was an 80’s movie starring several actors you don’t see much anymore but who were, singly and ensemble, brilliant comedic thespians. The movie features a gadget that, powered by a thermonuclear reactor worn on the the back, could hold a ghost using a stream of energy. The caution when the characters first used these devices was:
Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr. Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.)

This is often the attitude teachers have when they see a crossed wire on a branch. Really.
Amazing, isn’t it?
I’m here to tell you; before all the world, it is ok to cross wire, if you need to.
Sometimes, in order to properly anchor your wire (anchoring is more important than crossing wires, pretty wiring and too many wires on a branch. Anchoring a wire properly allows you to bend the branch and that branch stay where you put it.) one needs to cross the wire.
Let me show you.
This wire needs one more wrap around the branch to wire that one side branch.
If I don’t cross the bigger wire with the smaller the slightest bump could bust the side branch right off.
Just don’t make it a habit and make it look pretty.
And the result:
From the top
I decided to put an apex on the tree where I didn’t have one before.
Sketch from the first post
And how it looks now
Getting there.

5 thoughts

  1. I appreciate the post — gives me some vision for my cascade root cutting. I hear some people tilt the pot so that the cascade is pointing upwards. Does this help with keeping the lower branches strong? This is my first go at developing this style.


    1. You’re welcome Tom.
      There are some species that do need to be grown sideways, so to speak. Those trees with terrific apical dominance like pines or some deciduous trees will shed the lower branches if you don’t tilt them.
      Some winged elms are more apically dominant than others. This one in this post is moderately so.


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