How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Share your success stories about defoliation, bare rooting and anything else relating to maintaining healthy bonsai.
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Jow
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Jow »

Shari. How to.

Most people when they decide to have a tree with a shari, grow the trunk to the desired thickness, then remove bark from the designed area and maybe even do a little carving to add texture. This is a bad way of going about it. A better method is to incorporate shari from a young age.

Below is a good example of why we start the shari early. When a trunk grows, it expands out wards each year in all directions creating usually a round trunk. If you look at the picture below you will see a shari running down the center of the trunk. The shari is the same on the back side. When this tree grows each year only the live veins expand. As the live veins are located on the outer edges of the shari, this is where the expanding occurs.
IMG_5376-1.JPG
The below image is a close up. If you imagine that the live vein is shaped like a crescent moon in section and that the growth it puts on adds wood to the outer edge of the moon shape you begin to understand that your trunk is now growing thicker in one direction instead of in the round.
IMG_5381-1.JPG
If each year you remove a small amount of the live vein (a strip following the sharis edge) you end up increasing the trunk and the sharis width.

Look at the tree below.
IMG_5373-1.JPG
And then look at a close up of its shari.
IMG_5374-1.JPG
You will notice the beautiful lines and texture that are present. Those lines basically mark where, each previous year, a sliver of live vein has been removed and the shari widened. As each year the tree grows and as does the live vein, new heart wood is added to the vein, so when you remove a sliver along the vein a line appears which shows the difference in thickness between one years heartwood and the next.

The other bonus of this technique is that you are directing growth exactly where you want it. If you look again at the trees above and compare the trunks above the sharis (those that are in the round) to the thickness of the shari and live vein section. It becomes apparent that because you are growing on two sides via use of live veins that the trunk grows alot wider than if it were grown in the round. So not only does this method create better looking, textured shari, but it grows thicker trunks faster.

To start the shari you probably want your material to be around 1- 2cm thick. then start a very thin shari maybe a few mm wide. Lino cutting chisels ( available from art shops) are excellent for this fine work. creating a shari on both sides of the trunk like the top example will exaggerate the effect. You don't have to make the first shari a continuous strip at first, it may begin with a number of sharis that will later become joined. Then every year or two you widen the shari by a few mm or so. Soon the shari will begin to widen and will be a flat plate if dead wood with natural texture.

The tree below had its shari created by nature
IMG_5398-1.JPG
IMG_5399-1.JPG
Again if you look closely at the shari you begin to see hints of how it has grown in much the same manner, only instructed by nature. This is why most of the collected junipers have flat plate like sharied trunks, its merely a product of how the thin live veins grow and add new heartwood.
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Last edited by Jow on May 22nd, 2009, 7:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Jow »

Re:cd`s I read somewhere that they tend to break during the layering process, but perhaps having 3 of them would solve this....
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Bretts »

I planted a few with cd's a couple of years back. Due to be checked this spring. I think they will have ended up cracking as Jow has stated.
I have a few ideas for this that is a slight adaption to the Bonsai4m article and Peter Adams in his Bonsai maples book.
I will elaborate soon.
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by kcpoole »

At the School, we advocate using a ceramic tile instead of Cd.
Drill a hole in it, poke th tree thru and plant.

Easy to do and a tile will never break if you are careful. Once you cut the roots off under it you can even reuse them.

All you potter types should be able to make heaps easily too
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by anttal63 »

fantastic jow thanks heaps man!!! :D
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Elias »

Another great thread :D

I think if you want good stock you gotta start from scratch, it is a long term project and but I'm in no rush to create something outstanding. I began to create some trees with wild twist last year after reading a thread on another forum, I started by collecting a few trees here and there and now I have over 60 rooted cuttings mainly shimpaku and juniper horizontalis, they have all had lots of twisting and some I created small sharis. I hope to have at least around 100 by spring.

The progress is slow, I planted some in the ground, some in pond baskets some with out, others are in 4"- 6"pot and will be moved into and 6"-8" pot in spring.

I'm also doing some JBP and I gotta a lots of tridents and japanese maples, my main problem is I need more land, so until I make enough money for some land I will keep on doing lots of feeding, refining my propagating techniques and working with lots of pots.

Looking forward to reading more about Trident maples and how they create those awesome root flare, I was thinking of planting a few tridents into the ground with tiles under them, I suppose you could drill a hole thru them for roots...?
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Bretts »

At the School, we advocate using a ceramic tile instead of Cd.


All you potter types should be able to make heaps easily too
I spose I should have come out with it if I wanted to be the first to suggest this. :P
I have been eying of reclaimed clay to use for this. I tried drilling holes in plates as Peter suggests in his book but I must need a better drill bit :|
I will have to try a tile and see if that is any better.

How about the illusive bonsai by numbers. I plan on scanning a forrest placement diagram and transfer this to a slab of clay making holes where idicated. Poke trees through holes and in a few years the roots will fuse giving a bonsai by numbers result. :lol:
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Jow »

3mm aluminium sheet is easy to cut and drill.. thats what i have use previously...
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by mudlarkpottery »

Why do you need to drill holes in the tiles? Just sit the tree on the tile and wire it stable. The roots soon spread over the tile and then down. These can easily be cut off when re-potting. I have used weathertex squares with success instead of tiles. I put them under the roots of my trees whether they're in the ground or in training pots.
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Bretts »

Thats old school Penny :ugeek:
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Asus101 »

Go to your local hardware and buy a masonry drill bit or one of the tile cutting bits (some hardwares wont stock the tile cutting bits or a wide range of them).

Penny the idea in this case is to force the tree to layer evenly while growing in the ground. The tile under it is to stop growth going down. In this case we want the growth to go down as fast as possible as the more lower growth the more top growth there is.
That bonsai4me link should explain it more.
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Re: Some Japanese trees.....

Post by brenden »

Jow wrote:I imagine that you could easily get these results in 3-5 years in a pot and less in the ground.
Jow, how maturer were the trees / cuttings to get this growth in 3-5 years? They are quite large (thick trunks) and Junipers are slow growing.

It would be good if you could show some newly planted cuttings or seedlings to give members of this forum an idea of what the cuttings looked like to achieve the results in your first post. Lots to learn!

Very hard to compare Australia and Japan stock trees though. We don't have the history yet :) I was talking about this with a friend today and our history is so short compared to Japan we don't have generations of knowledge handed down. Give us time and we too will have the master pass knowledge to a new master, then to a new master and so on, each adding, expanding and perfecting what they learn.

Japan has the advantage as well that they have many naturally growing tree's that can be collected from fields. *sigh* What a playground to learn and explore! You're in a lucky situation at the moment.

Study, study, study - Learn, learn, learn - Then share, share, share :)

A kept secret is a dead secret!

Thanks again. Look forward to more pics and stories!
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Re: Some Japanese trees.....

Post by Jow »

brenden wrote:
Jow wrote:I imagine that you could easily get these results in 3-5 years in a pot and less in the ground.
Jow, how maturer were the trees / cuttings to get this growth in 3-5 years? They are quite large (thick trunks) and Junipers are slow growing.

It would be good if you could show some newly planted cuttings or seedlings to give members of this forum an idea of what the cuttings looked like to achieve the results in your first post. Lots to learn!

Very hard to compare Australia and Japan stock trees though. We don't have the history yet :) I was talking about this with a friend today and our history is so short compared to Japan we don't have generations of knowledge handed down. Give us time and we too will have the master pass knowledge to a new master, then to a new master and so on, each adding, expanding and perfecting what they learn.

Japan has the advantage as well that they have many naturally growing tree's that can be collected from fields. *sigh* What a playground to learn and explore! You're in a lucky situation at the moment.

Study, study, study - Learn, learn, learn - Then share, share, share :)

A kept secret is a dead secret!

Thanks again. Look forward to more pics and stories!
Hey Brendan, thanks for the comment...

When i say in a pot, i don't mean bonsai pot. These junipers are up potted into small tubs if you like. All the Junipers i have posted in this thread are Shohin or mini sized and the actual thickness of the trunks is around 2.5 -3cm in the thickest areas on the bigger trees. This i believe is achievable from rooted cutting in a 5 year period. Add a year if you have to strike the cuttings... Some of the other examples i posted were around 1cm thick and i think that is easily achievable in 3 years. The one thing that i only briefly mentioned was heavy feeding. I have noticed that in Australia we really underfeed. The soil surface is almost covered in fertiliser cakes here through the entire growing season and as these break down they are replaced. Junipers are not the fastest growers, but if you don't feed them they really tread water. So the recipe is big pot (or up pot each year with minimal root disturbance) and HEAPS of food. There is an example of a rooted cutting on the first page and a small bonsai next to a lighter that was 3 years old. It had been grown its whole life in a eggcup sized container so you can see what may be achievable in a larger growing medium. Then adding shari, and getting a live vein on either side of the trunk will also speed up the rate at which the trunk increases width. So i do think it is achievable to product quality stock 3-5 years obviously the larger girth you are after the longer it will take. It will take another couple to refine the foliage silhouette (and having a few sacrifice branches during this time cant hurt).
Last edited by Jow on May 23rd, 2009, 7:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by Jow »

I just snapped a pic to illustrait what i mean re: size.

The one is around finger thick trunk wise, yet due to the way it folds back on it self it apears much thicker.....
IMG_5430.JPG
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Re: How to grow good bonsai stock like the Japanese nurseries

Post by brenden »

Great, thanks Jow!
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