Leatherwood as bonsai

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Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby Hen » August 22nd, 2017, 11:57 am

I've been given a Leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida) in a large nursery pot and am looking for info on whether or not it would make a good bonsai. So far I've not found anything, even on this site, so perhaps that would suggest not!! So....should I give it a try or should I plant it in the garden?? I'm a bonsai beginner, so experience is low, but enthusiasm high :-)
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby dansai » August 22nd, 2017, 12:05 pm

Just a quIck at wikipeadia would suggest it would make a good bonsai. Small tree or shrub with small leaves and lovely flowers. Look on here at general eucalyptus posts for care instructions. Being a Tasmanian tree I would say will fletcher (tanglefoot on this forum) would be growing it and may have info.
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby Hen » August 22nd, 2017, 12:15 pm

Thanks dansai. Yes, it certainly looks the part, I just don't want to kill it if it doesn't like shoots or roots being rationalised! Do you think I should treat is as a eucalypt?
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby bodhidharma » August 22nd, 2017, 1:04 pm

They suffer a little bit of dieback but i have a few i am playing with, nothing to report as yet as i have only had it a couple of years.
"Advice is rarely welcome, and the one's who need it the most welcome it the least"
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby Hen » August 22nd, 2017, 5:51 pm

Excellent, thank you. I'll give it a go then. How much of the root mass did you remove first go (if you purchased them in nursery pots/soil)?
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby shibui » August 24th, 2017, 6:10 pm

I'm also trying a few just because they are a Tassie icon.
I've been repotting as for most natives when the weather is warmer - November/December here.
They strike quite easily as cuttings so I'm happy to cut of quite a lot of roots at repotting - up to 3/4?
One of mine was not happy last summer. I think it was suffering from being pot bound and not getting enough water/ nutrients but that's only a guess so far.
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby Hen » August 24th, 2017, 9:58 pm

I'm glad to hear about the roots shibui. I took it out of the pot in came in today, just to have a look at the roots and found it was growing in very heavy soil and had quite poor roots, despite the 10' pot. Didn't intend to bare root it but once I started clearing out the root-free clay I just had to keep going. I potted it into a training tub with bonsai soil (and some potting soil in the bottom to keep up the moisture (not sure of the correctness of this...I'm having trouble converting my normal horticultural pot growing practices to bonsai principles!). I removed about 1/3 of the foliage and will cross my fingers it'll survive.

Do you think any particular style suits them? It's just a normal looking nursery plant at the moment, with a trunk diameter of about 15mm at the base. I guess it will be good practice for a beginner!
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby shibui » August 25th, 2017, 7:55 pm

Many bonsai growers look back to the wild trees for inspiration for styles.
I have not spent very much time in tassie but the plants I have seen there seem to grow in sheltered conditions, mostly as a small - medium upright tree or shrub - not much inspiration for bonsai :imo: but maybe you could try it. Maybe it does grow into different shapes if it grows in harsher conditions. Any opinions from Tassie growers?
If the natural shape does not inspire you try other shapes and styles and don't worry what others might say.
Being a naturally upright tree I'm not sure how it would adapt to horizontal or cascading styles.

I can only remember seeing one exhibited and that was just a very young stick in a pot.
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby jarryd » August 25th, 2017, 8:13 pm

I can provide a small amount of information. However as with many native Tasmanian species Will Fletcher is the main source for any long term information, and does have several nice specimens (one of which has a very impressive spread of surface roots).

The standard leatherwood generally has a simple white flower, however pink colour morphs have been sourced primarily from wild trees in the northwest of the state for the nursery trade such as the "Savage River Pink" and "Pink Cloud". They will flower in potted culture.

There is also a dwarf leatherwood Eucryphia milliganii which is a naturally occurring species which can be found on higher plateaus of western Tasmania. I have a few specimens in training of the dwarf and also pink varieties. Though they are at present nothing special and may end up as garden material, I do believe this species will certainly be worth perseverance. They tolerate root pruning and seem to shoot back well after pruning. Though I have not pruned back to bare timber.

Best of luck after the repot sounds like you have done everything right.

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Last edited by jarryd on August 25th, 2017, 8:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby Hen » August 27th, 2017, 11:34 pm

Thank you Jarryd. I was unaware of the second species of Tassie Leatherwood. It was just given to me with that common name, no tag, but now I look at google images I think it may well be E. milliganii. The leaves are quite small, about 2cm. I'll try to post some pics so that you may be able to advise, otherwise I'll wait until it flowers and find a key somewhere. I guess it doesn't really matter, exc if the dwarf form it may be slower growing.

As you'll see, on shape it's just an ordinary looking nursery plant, but I love the foliage and potential flowers. I hope it lives through my transplant operation and I can fashion some sort of little tree. Any suggestion on where to begin would be most welcome
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Re: Leatherwood as bonsai

Postby shibui » August 28th, 2017, 8:50 pm

I also found there are 3 more mainland species and 2 from South America.
E. moorei from NSW grows to quite a large tree and might be worth trying as well.
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