Desert Ash Not Extending Shoots

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Desert Ash Not Extending Shoots

Postby Granite » January 10th, 2018, 11:15 pm

I picked up a Desert Ash with a relatively thick trunk this Spring. It has some decent growth when I bought it, but seems in the last few weeks to have entered a frozen, almost dormant state with respect to growth. When I purchased it, I slip potted it into a large foam tub and a soil mix consisting of 70% Perlite and 30% chicken-manure-rich compost. The mix is very fast draining. I have never dealt with this species before but expected strong growth. Anyone have any experience with this species or insight into what could be happening?

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Re: Desert Ash Not Extending Shoots

Postby Boics » January 11th, 2018, 6:53 am

Photos would help.
I have 2 * ash at the moment.
One is super quick one not so.

I've noticed periods of inactivity on my trees from time to time.
I'm sure there are a heap of reasons why this happens (water, feed, root bound, too hot, cold, sun etc).
I'd be persevering with best practices and hopefully it will turn the corner.
One of the fabulous things about growing bonsai is as you get old and decrepit your trees get old and beautiful
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Re: Desert Ash Not Extending Shoots

Postby treeman » January 11th, 2018, 11:21 am

''Slip potting'' can be a big problem if the tree is root-bound and you don't tease the roots out so they make good contact with the new mix. Also if the mix the tree was in is very much finer than the new mix, it will hold too much water (can't drain into the new mix) and can lead to root damage/rot. If the tree is not growing a million miles an hour at the moment. Something is wrong with the roots. I have defoliated mine twice already. They should be growing strongly at the moment. I have never liked the idea of slip potting. It would be better to the rest the base of the tree's pot into another pot half filled with mix so the roots can escape into this and repot properly when the time comes.
BTW, perlite and chicken manure rich compost sounds very bad too and could be the source of your problems.
Last edited by treeman on January 11th, 2018, 11:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Desert Ash Not Extending Shoots

Postby Matt S » January 11th, 2018, 3:55 pm

Hi Granite,

I've been growing Desert Ash for decades and while I agree with Treeman regarding the soil mix, I've found a few issues with the growth habits that reflect what you're experiencing:

- Desert Ash that are constantly trimmed over summer will often stop growing just after Christmas and will just hold for the rest of the growing season, except for the occasional shoot from old wood (especially from the trunk). You can get another flush of growth this time of year by defoliating completely. As Treeman says, you can do this several times over summer with a healthy tree.
- Ash that are in the growing phase i.e. not trimmed much over summer and allowed to grow, will continue to grow over the summer.

I've discussed this with many people here in Adelaide that have noticed the same thing. It seems that the more mature the tree and the more refined it is, the more likely that the tree will stop growing around Christmas. Younger trees or those in deep pots and/or being allowed to grow will keep powering on.

Hope this helps.

Also, when you are at the stage of leaf reduction and increasing ramification, let each shoot grow to about 3 or 4 pairs of leaves and then trim back to one pair. Then trim both remaining compound leaves to 1 set. If you do this you'll both let more air and light into the interior of the tree and you'll get 2 new shoots where previously you had one. If I get time today I'll take some pictures to show this clearer.

Cheers,
Matt.
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Re: Desert Ash Not Extending Shoots

Postby Granite » January 11th, 2018, 11:35 pm

Thanks for the replies, guys. Really appreciate the insight on the species, Matt. As I said, I really have no experience with it.

On soil, the water drains quicker than the water that hits it, so drainage or aeration can’t be an issue. I grow most my trees that are in training in this mix, and they’re all going berserk at the moment, barring the DA. I’ve been doing some digging and came across some information that the Desert Ash doesn’t respond well to dynamic lifter. Given my mix uses chicken poo, I’m starting to wonder if that’s the issue. Coarse grade perlite can’t be the problem, it’s just a synthetic pumice.

This tree has been left untouched since I’ve acquired it. I am going to hit it with some Seasol to see if that incites any response. I don’t know if a big hit of Powerfeed will be put to much use.
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Re: Desert Ash Not Extending Shoots

Postby Matt S » January 12th, 2018, 12:43 pm

Hi Granite,

I’ve used dynamic lifter on Ash before without a problem, although it’s not my preferred. Like I said, defoliate it if you want another flush of growth. Extra fertiliser or seasol probably won’t make much difference.

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