Lilly Pilly - What next?

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Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by dansai »

This is one of my very first bonsai in training. And here is how it started.

I have learnt a little since then, one thing being it's best to develop the trunk and roots first and then worry about branches. I originally potted it too high wanting to take advantage of the wider base, but the roots went straight down and a lot of what appears in the last 2 photos in the above link is just soil. So I've applied a ground layer and this is what I have now.
S. smithii minor.jpg
I know the branches are a little thin and spindly, as is the upper trunk. I am aware that I can just let it grow to gain thickness and prune back to develop ramification in a few years time, but I have a number of trees I am doing that with and wish to explore other things with this one.

I have wired the branches in the past and flattened out the branching on the lower 2 branches and since then the new growth has shot fairly straight up.

So my questions....

Should I wire the branchlets out flat again to form more structure and then trim back to a pair of leaves in spring when growth resumes and let the shots go from there with pinching regularly to form the fine branching?

Or should I just trim back as it is to form the twigs?

Or should I just let it grow freely to let it gain thickness and then go back to it in a year or 2?
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by Neli »

I am a newbie just like you, so I hope if I am wrong someone will correct me. But this is the way to learn.
1. You have nice tapper and I see you are growing a leader. You have chopped the trunk. Be careful and seal that cut and try to heal it. Sizigium has wood that rots very fast...personal experience!!!!
Seal it very well!
2 branches need to have tapper just like the trunk...and your lowest left branch is the same thickness as your leader. Dont know how tall You plan to make it, but I would chop the branches just the way you chop the trunk for tapper and ramification...also it will slow that lower branch which will channel more energy into the leader thickening. I know trees have apical dominance, but if you are planing to make this tree short, the way I understood, then you might start chopping the branches for tapper and movement.
3 Avoid bar branches...LP back buds very easy...ones you chop it it will give you branches that you can select.
4 upper branches should not be too thick compared to lower...so You can keep them shorter...and not allow them to thicken too much.
5 Secondary and tertiary growth needs to be directed just the same as primary branches...cat and grow/ or trim and wire...but even with cut and grow you wire. Any branches that are growing up from the stem, not coming from the sides, which you can wire, should be removed.
I hope I have been of some help and I hope I am correct...if I am not please correct me so I can learn too.
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by bodhidharma »

Hi Dansai, i really cant see the two bottom branches being part of the final product but they can be left on if you are going for a mini. I suppose if you really wanted lower branches at that height then that is personal preference. I would cut off the lower and make a decision on your leader and wire the rest into place and see how it looks. To get budding further into the branches you can cut back to the first set of leaves and that should stimulate some growth.
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by dansai »

I think I've made a decision about this tree.

The reason for wanting to work with the bottom branches is a sentimental one. As I have said this is one of my first trees I started to train about 2 years ago, and probably the largest material I had worked with at the time. The bottom branches had some ramification and shape to them, so in my eagerness to have and Bonsai straight away, I wanted to train them.

But yes Bodhi, you are right and I don't really see them as part of a finished tree.

So my decision is to leave them for now and play with them, experiment and get the joy from them that they are still there for. The top I'll let grow strongly, wiring the branches down but letting them grow to gain thickness. And leave the leader to grow and thicken the trunk, possibly trunk chopping later to get better taper and remove the lower branchesr. They will also help to thicken the trunk, even if only a little.

Thanks for your input Neli. I would agree with all you had to say. As for the wound, I know it's in a poor place at the front, but it is well sealed and will probably get a clean out and reseal before winter sets in here. There is, however, a short stump on the back right side which you can just see in the photo. I was actually planning to let this rot through as part of the design. So the front may also be made to connect to it.

Actually remembering that as I wrote the above that was my plan from some time ago, so, definitely it is going to be a bigger tree, so Grow Grow Grow
Last edited by dansai on May 28th, 2013, 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by Neli »

It does not need to be a big tree...You can make it even short strong one and it will be faster...U have so much tapper on it. Just dont leave shari or curve it...my advise...if you see how it rots...you would not do it...try to heal the wounds if you can...It heals not badly.
Just remove one of the bar branches everywhere if you dont need them in the design. Good luck!
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by dansai »

Not quite sure where you're seeing the bar branching Neli. The bottom 2 are the closest, but not totally bar and they will be going anyway.
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Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by MoGanic »

I cant see anything I would consider bar branching either.

Definitely looks like one that'll keep you guessing! Good luck with it :-)
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by Neli »

You have them on top also where the trunk chop is...
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by dansai »

May look like it in the photo, but definitely not. About 25mm between them.

And if these were to become the lower branches then with some good wiring, i.e. allowing the left one to sweep up before flattening out and the right to be pulled down more sharply then there will be no hint of bar branching.

Also Neli I'ld be interested in what Syzygium you had rot problems with. With over 1100 species ranging from Africa through Asia and into Australia and the Pacific I imagine there is a huge range of diversity in the genus. This one has been chopped for over 18 months and there is no sign of rot as yet, and the cut at the back has not been sealed in any way.
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by Neli »

Mine is indigenous LP...but most people in Africa have the same problem...never new they were so many varieties.
On the picture the top branches look to me at the same height...but you should know better. it is not so much for the look but it creates reverse tapper.
Here it is mine after some late treatment...all natural rot.
2013-04-11 001 008 (640x480).jpg
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Last edited by Neli on May 29th, 2013, 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by dansai »

That seems a shame about the rot. Especially that far up. I hope it heals alright for you.

What have you used for treatment? Are you going to make a feature of the rotted area? Or are you hoping it will heal over?
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by Neli »

Thanks dansai,
this is an imported topiary I bought...I just loved the trunk... The trunk is rotten at the bottom too, but not as much. Would you believe me...this was not seen when I bought it...it was filled with matter that looked like wood. Very soft You could remove it even with your nail...I needed to clean it before applying preservatives. I used first lime sulfur...then wood glue, and topped it up with Vaseline for just in case...I am a panic mechanic!
I like uros...not so much high up like this...and the cambium started growing so it created the appearance of reverse tapper...but that I can curve.
A friend (Lennard) gets cable ties...and ties around the uro very tight...he managed to close like this some trees. But my worry is that if I dont close it well and just a small hole remains, I will not be able to treat the wood and it can rot like casuarina all the way through and remain cambium only.
Last edited by Neli on May 30th, 2013, 7:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lilly Pilly - This is what next

Post by dansai »

Well, nearly a year on and this is how it looked a few weeks ago.
Before Wire.jpg
As you can see I had wired the trunk and even placed a guy wire to pull the top down a little. It cracked just above the major trunk chop but didn't skip a beat.

I then applied a lot more wire to the branches and secondaries after a trim back to a single pair of leaves. It since has put on a growth spurt and I have been pinching back to the first pair of leaves as the new growth extends. I am attending the Australian Plants as Bonsai Symposium in Canberra on the 15th/16th of march this year and as they are asking for tree for the exhibition I decided to check out the roots and try and pot it into a bonsai pot.

If you look at the first picture at the beginning of the topic you will see the top of a black plastic pot which had been removed by the time of the above pic. This was placed around the base as I have had it in a poly box for some time and potted it way too high. I was hoping for more roots higher up and got them so the bottom section came off (sorry no pics) and with a bit of a trim it went into its new pot. The pot is probably a little small, especially with the amount of root I took off, but there were plenty of feeder roots and so :fc: it holds on. It has shown a few signs of wilt on the new growth, but I have just gave it a soak in seasol and they became turgid again.

I know there are a few issues, but it is one of my first trees to get to this stage and I am happy with how it looks. I am hoping the leaves and internodes will reduce with regular tip pruning.

Anyway, here it is.

Back
Back.jpg
Left side
Left Side.jpg
Sorry no right side

And Front
Front.jpg
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Last edited by dansai on February 25th, 2014, 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by bodhidharma »

Thats coming along, a little leggy but that will be fixed in time i imagine :?:
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Re: Lilly Pilly - What next?

Post by Steve B »

I think you can be pretty proud of this one Dansai - I would be anyway!

I have a similar lilly pilly - I've always thought of it as an Acmena Smithi too as it came with that label (although that seems pretty random with LP's!) and it has the pointed leaf tips like yours. I'm sure that's overly simplistic characterisation though :lost:

One thing I have found with mine is that when I pinch back on new growth it tends to send another shoot out from that spot quite quickly, within the same growth flush. Do you get something similar? I haven't experimented with ripping the new ones off as well (letting it run rampant at the moment to get some bulkier secondaries). Be interested to hear your process for tip pruning and if you find it does keep the internodes shorter.
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