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Secrets Of Artificially Dwarfed Bonzai Trees

Aug 17, 2007
The majority of the dwarfed potted trees generally seen are developed from ordinary nursery stock or from somewhat dwarfed trees found in a natural habitat. The practice of artificial dwarfing might be more aptly described as "revolutionizing" normal growth. What, then, is this practice?

Let me first take some examples of the ordinary nursery stock, and tell about them. Three- to ten-year-old young trees of the following are suitable for "revolutionizing":

Evergreens: Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora), Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi (L. leptolepis)), Hi-noki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa), and such conifers as are grown in nurseries for ordinary garden purposes or for forest plantations.

Deciduous: Japanese Maple {Acer palmatum and varieties), Daphne odora. flowering Peach (Prunus persica varieties), Japanese flowering Apricot (Prunus mume varieties), Japanese flowering Quince (Chaenomeles lagenaria), garden varieties of Hall's flowering Crabapple (Malus halliana).

Such ornamental trees and shrubs have trunks and branches that are comparatively easy to bend. They are taken from nurseries in autumn, and potted. A small pot is preferred to accustom the plant to the smaller space for root development and to restrain the growth of foliage.

However, when selecting the pot, consider its depth; the shallower the pot, the better the result, but it should be of fairly generous width. When the trees are started on their way to dwarfing, they are generally planted in shallow containers, as they look better and seem to have a more aesthetic touch.

In late winter or early spring, possibly while drinking tea, you begin to fancy the shape of the tree when finished. The man experienced in training with wire changes ordinary little trees into different forms almost instantly, sometimes to a shape seen in naturally dwarfed trees.

The wiring specialist's way is about like this: in the autumn the tree should have been potted so that the trunk is inclined to slant. Then in spring, to shorten the trunk in height and lower the branches, a wire is fastened to the trunk near the surface of the soil in the pot, and again attached higher up so the trunk can be pulled downward, away from the direction of the slant.

It should be fastened at the desired bend with the wire. After the operation the little tree will have been considerably lowered, and then another wire is fastened at the forked part, the end of the wire coiling around the trunk; carefully wind the wire toward the tip, having an inch or more in intervals of the spiral. The branch is then ready to be shaped and fixed to the desired form.

The second upper branch is treated in the same way, then the third, and so on. After one or two years, in many cases, the trunk and branches should be settled in the desired positions, so the winding wires are no longer needed, and may be taken off. From year to year the tree is improved in form and foliage as the result of careful pinching of certain tip buds, shortening or removing undesired strong shoots, repeating the pinching often in a season according to the kind of tree and further winding the wire to change the form or improve it.

Gradually the artificial look lightens and the "made-up" tree becomes the natural-looking tree. The course of training for years is very fascinating to fanciers, novices and experts alike. It is not unusual in a day's stroll in the villages or towns in Japan, wherever you may be, to come across people who train dwarf trees -- they are a set of cheerful boasters.
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