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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76472

  • ptiber
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Hello everybody,

It's my first day here, and very beginner wanna-be bonsai grower :whistle: :D
I'm a total noob in these parts, and have to learn to not fear hurting the trees for the greater good, I'm way too worried about that at the moment xD
I've been inspired by all of your posts and pictures to finally ask for help and try to learn from the masters ^^

So here's my first attempt: I've been growing this oak from an acorn (got it in a forest in the netherlands I believe?) in a pot on my balcony. It just went through its second winter, and has grown a new set of leaves in the last month (I'm in southern Sweden, so spring is a bit late here ^^).



Now I'd like to eventually turn this into something nice, preferably with a lot of nice branching. But as you can see, it's mainly one long main trunk, with a second branch at the bottom. It seems healthy as the leaves are nice, green and wide, so I'm not too worried about it, but it still lacks everything that can make it look like a proper tree instead of a spear :dry: :lol:

It's now 2 years-ish, and spring is here, so from what I gathered it would be a good time to start acting/pruning it? (correct me if I'm wrong, I might be completely wrong xD)
What would you guys do in terms of pruning and cutting things back, in order to promote branching?

It also has all these tiny branches along the main trunk that I believe are dead from last year, I suppose there's no harm at removing them?

In this second picture below you can see a close up from the top, which is kind of a mess with a mix of a couple of dead shoots (one inside the top part, and most of these tiny ones below) and 4 to 5 healthy ones but all bundled together, I'm afraid they're all going to wither eventually and only the main one will stay...



Any advice for this part? Should I trim back some of the main branches leaves in order to let light go through the smaller ones? Should I just completely chop off some of them (big or small?)?

I've heard that oaks are not the best for bonsais as you can really reduce the leaves size, but well I'm fine with that, I'm not planning on turning that one into a prize-winning bonsai anyway xD

Thank you for any tips and advice you can give me!
Have a great day!
Cheers

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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76473

  • Dave L
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I don't specifically have any oaks yet, but generally, for young deciduous trees, you want to let the trunk get thicker, so don't prune too much, although if you cut the tips off the terminal branches, you will get subdivision, and therefore more foliage to build up that trunk. That bottom branch is helping to add thickness to the base, and therefore, taper, so you want to keep that. You can also gently wire some motion into the trunk while it is small. I wouldn't take off any small branches because if they're just dormant, you might need them later. If they snap off with slight pressure, then they're dried and dead, and of no future use.

Hopefully it is planted in well-draining substrate, with plenty of holes in the bottom of his little bucket to let out water, and let the roots breath.

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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76476

  • Ivan Mann
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"I've heard that oaks are not the best for bonsais as you can really reduce the leaves size, but well I'm fine with that, I'm not planning on turning that one into a prize-winning bonsai anyway xD"

Great attitude.

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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76478

  • Tropfrog
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Välkommen hit landsman!

I am working on reducing a 20 year old oak tree. They are backbudding really good here on the west coast. I see no reason to start the styling of such a young seedling. Just let it grow as much as possible the next few years. If you want to wire the trunk for mowement, that can be done now.

Since oaks is really hard to reduce leaf size on, they are best grown for big size bonsai. Around one meter hight with a trunk at least 20 cm wide.

Amyway, no matter what you choose to do, now is not the time for prunning. That should be done before it leafs out.

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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76479

  • Albas
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You can do one harder prune to position some lower branches already (on the proper time of the year of course) and then let it's trunk thicken with a sacrifice section, I really like the oak trees, don't have any, but I've seen some good quality Bonsai trees on the species, but yes, they must be trained into Big Bonsai, so it can actually have some proportion.

And btw, you can actually be surprised on how their leaves can be reduced on the refining stage.

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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76485

  • ptiber
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Thanks for your answers!

I was thinking about starting to wire it, in order to add movement, although I'm not quite sure what yet ^^

So if I understand correctly, I should wait more for pruning? Maybe a year or two more?
What's the best seasons for pruning deciduous trees?

Thanks for the help!

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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76489

  • Tropfrog
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Well. I just started pruning last year on my 20 years old one. But it is on very thin soil. 1 or 2 years is proboably to soon. You need it to gain trunk thickness. The more foliage it has the faster it thickens. As said before it depends on what you want to create. But for big bonsai I would not start pruning until at least 10 cm wide trunk.

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Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76500

  • Albas
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Well. I just started pruning last year on my 20 years old one. But it is on very thin soil. 1 or 2 years is proboably to soon. You need it to gain trunk thickness. The more foliage it has the faster it thickens. As said before it depends on what you want to create. But for big bonsai I would not start pruning until at least 10 cm wide trunk.


That's an option, but you know you can built you structure as you thicken, right?

On species with too much apex energy, the lower branches won't grow much if you don't prune the top. At this point it wouldn't be too regressive to stimulate lower branching before you let it thicken, so you can save some time on the future, with at least some branches already in place.

Of course you can also do the hard pruning years from now and expect the branches to come out on handy spots or graft them in place.
And that even seems to make more sense if you are going for a hokidachi style for example, where you wouldn't need any branching until later on.

But yes, that's the magic, there's no absolut truth in Bonsai, there are many ways to reach the same results...

....By the way, yes, if you want some movement on the trunk you may think about it now, before it gets too stiff to bent.
Big if here, since it depends on the design you're aiming for.

Also, next early growing season, you can give the roots some attention, pruning the taproot so it can develop a good base with side roots before you spend years developing your tree on a flawed foundation.

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Last edit: Post by Albas.

Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76501

  • Albas
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Oh BTW, consider having some more trees (priotizing small leafed ones so you can make smaller trees also) that will help you learn, without overcaring the same plant/plants.

Because it's not much of a hobby if you spend 1 hour by year on it.

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Last edit: Post by Albas.

Oak tree from acorn - Tips for a first time beginner 3 months 3 weeks ago #76504

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Correct Albas. There are several ways to create a bonsai. You are growing tropical species near the equator. And you get tremendous fast development. No offence, but we are talking about temperate oaks in Sweden here. Build as you go is an option if you intend to grow it for your grandchildren. Oaks is painfully slow up here. Growing in pot freely for 10 years will get to max 5 cm trunk. Trunk chop at that stage and regrow another 10 years might give 10 to 5 cm taper. Then repeat. I have never seen an amazing oak bonsai younger than 50 years. Doing this with frequent trimming and you will never experience the finished product.

Obvously one can grow for winter silouette only. Then smaller tree over a shorter time period is possible. I think that is the best option for a beginner. But mature bark takes more than 10 years anyway.

And off cource as you mention, get more trees. One sapling is not a hobby.
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