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I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #1995

  • BassandBonsai
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Hello everyone. I know I haven't posted in a long time, but you try taking 4 AP classes and see how it goes! Anyway, on top of alllllll the homework, I have joined the Japanese club. Attempts to contact the horticulture club have been in vain- apparently the high school version was discontinued after the teacher retired. But there is an upside- no one is using the school greenhouse! I got permission to use it from the new biology teacher, but I need some advice.

We're starting out with some black willow cuttings I rooted in a jar of water. I don't think anyone in the Japanese club has experience with plants, so I think something so tolerant of overwatering and overpruning is a relatively good choice. They'll stay in the school greenhouse and we'll meet about once a month for styling, which should work if I put them in the right soil and keep them soaking wet. I'll be in charge of watering them since I doubt the teacher would appreciate 15 students coming in at random times to water individual trees.

However, I need some tips on how to use the greenhouse. Why are there semi-transparent cloths covering some of the windows? What sort of pots should I put the saplings in? And how do you teach a bunch of random teenagers how to style a plant? If there is anyone here who has taught a workshop or given a lecture, what do I need to do to prepare?

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Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #1996

  • leatherback
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Hi,

Nice going! Wish I had a greenhouse available at times :(

As for your cloth in the greenhouse: THese glasss walls are very nice as they let sun in. However, in some times of the year the sunjust gets too hot. To reduce the heatload in the greenhouse, and protect younger plants against direct sun, these cloth are used.

The question re. pots.. Normally when building up a tree you try and get the tree to grow thick first (Unless you woul dlike to start with a small tree and take 30 years to get a maswsive trunc, which I think would be a more natural looking tree eventually). But assuming you would like results, and you want them fast: Just let the tree grow all it wants for a few seasons.. Basically you would start them off in the a pot one size larger then needed to house the roots. Every year you will increase the pot size untill the tree has the desired trunk. Then you start shaping, pruning etc. Intermediate would be to trim the tree once a year too, in order to let it grow, but not too freely.

I am now going to assume you start with some nursery stock, which you would like to style straight away. You can -with healthy trees- quite easily reduce the rootbal to 50% of the original, by washing out the soil, letting the roots hang down in front of you (Or putting it on a table. Just ensure they NEVER dry out, not for a minute (!). I usually place them in a bucket of water whenever I am working on your plants, and only when I am ready to do the roots, I take them out, dipping them in water every once in a while if it is a warm day. Anyway. Cut the tickest roots down the most. you repot in a smaller pot than you had them in. I think for most tree-sizes containers of 1-4 liters (1/4 - 1 gallon) should do. But again.. That is depending on the tree. I have one tree in a ~20 gallon (70 liter) container, and that is after removing half of the roots..

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Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2004

  • Pinkham
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Hannah,
It's nice to have you back first of all.
You need to first remember that willow trees need a dormancy period. you didn't specify whether you were starting this now or in the spring.
You live in Indiana, it gets cold there. let the tree rest for the winter and enjoy it's down time.
Good luck.
Lance

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Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2007

  • manofthetrees
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howdy B&B,
first i'd like to say :ohmy: WOW you are a busy young lady,wish there were more young people like you.i did the AP thing but i came home and played video games :P
my first question would be, is this greenhouse heated artificialy? Pinkam has a very good point,dormant trees arent very exiting.
if not this will however give you time to teach tree biology,bonsai history,maintenance whatever you feel i guess and save the practical training for spring. if you have a laptop maybe your school has a digital projector you could use to show info,pics,videos ect..to help out.
you could even start up a fund for nursery stock to work on or even a trip to a nursey or exabition.try to keep in mind what attracted you to the art and just go with it.
best of luck

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Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2009

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First of all, THANK YOU for the quick response! It is so hard to get in touch with the bonsai people in my area, and being able to type up a little question like this and get help almost instantly really helps.

Yes, the greenhouse is heated, but the willows, as Pinkham stated, do need a dormancy period. Right now they're a bunch of cuttings in a jar of water, and I plan on doing a workshop on soils and how to pot bonsai before sending them home with my classmates. In the spring we'll resume working with them, styling ect.

At the moment, I have no idea if we're going to have access to nursery stock. We don't really have a club fund at the moment, so what may end up happening is me bringing in one of my personal tropicals, and we have a group activity where everyone gets to input their idea of how to style it. I have a couple of ficuses this might work with, picked up for $5.00 at the Indianapolis Bonsai Club auction. (That was so much fun! :woohoo: )

The projector idea is a good one, and although I don't think there is one in the greenhouse, I know that my Environmental Science classroom has one. I've never given a lecture before, though. I'm not taking Speech or anything, and I've never attended a bonsai lecture. Do you think you could find a link so I can see one?

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Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2010

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Hannah,
The willow cuttings are still in water? It may be too late to pot these trees and have them survive the winter. Here is a suggestion since you have a willow tree and can get cuttings any time, do this...
Instead of using the cuttings you have, you should wait until January and go get a bunch of willow cuttings with different widths.Put them in glass jars with water in a sunny spot inside and wait until they root(4 or 5 weeks)and then in mid march when everything is slushy and gross outside you will have fresh well rested cuttings ready to be potted and trained. Since they are fast growers you will have a lot to do all spring and summer...and guess what.....the roots grow fast, so you will be able to re-pot them in the fall. They are a perfect choice to experiment on.They do say that they are not a good tree for beginners because of their fast growth. I wouldn't worry about that too much though....I have 8 willow cutting :)
Hey, Do yourself a favor and root more than you think you will need because once it gets out that this is fun, other people are going to want in. Also some people's trees may perish and everyone needs their own tree :)
Sounds like a great idea.

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Last edit: Post by Pinkham.

Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2012

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Yes, the trees are still in water, and it might be too late to pot them and have them survive. :( However, not only have they grown roots, but they all have new leaves as well. They're essentially full plants without the soil. I do hope they'll survive the winter, but like you said there's plenty more where that came from!

I still want to use these, though, to get people used to the idea of working with trees. I stated before about the money troubles, and if we don't use the ones I've rooted already, some people might not get a tree at all until next spring! I am concerned about it being late in the year, but I know that willows are really hardy (at least the mother plant is) and the first one I rooted as a control has done just fine so far. I have considered not allowing the willows to have a dormancy period until next year, since this particular species (salix nigra) has a habitat from southern Canada to northern Mexico. I highly doubt it gets a winter dormancy period in, say, Texas. However, I also know that the mother plant does go dormant in the winter, and I hesitate to mess with that.

I love the plan, and I plan to do just that, but what about in the meantime? Do you think they should go indoors or outdoors?

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Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2013

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Hannah,
The trees have to be acclimated to the changing temps starting in late august. They need time to start the dormancy process. If they get put outside now (potted or not) they most likely will not survive.
Here is a great article on winter dormancy. its a quick read and pretty informative.
www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_WinterCare.html
Good luck,
Lance

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Last edit: Post by Pinkham.

Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2014

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Hi Hannah! It's great to hear from you!!! :cheer:

Wow! This is a great thing you are doing...good for you! With regard to your question about how to teach and/or give speeches...forget the speeches~they put people to sleep! :lol: Teaching is simply sharing what you are passionate about. Have a topic you would like to focus on at each meeting, do a little brushing up on your research prior to the meeting and prepare any material that may be needed, then just go with it...be yourself and be confident that you can do this. It *will* flow naturally because it is your passion. I'm proud of you. ;)

The guys have given some great advice and ideas here.

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Re: I'm bringing bonsai to my Japanese club. 10 years 2 months ago #2058

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Thanks for the link, Lance. I'm glad to know that the willows will, even if they don't like it as much, be ok inside this winter. We'll let them have a good ol' Indiana dormancy next year, once everyone knows the proper care procedures and everything.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Leslie. You're right; speeches are boring! We had an assembly at school today and everyone complained about how it was such a waste of time. (Teachers trying to teach teenagers how to use the school website? Really?) I haven't been able to do anything more as of yet; four tests in two days, 3 AP and 1 in Japanese, really mess up your schedule. I am really excited, however; my Environmental Science teacher is taking an interest in bonsai. I guess he went to the State Fair over the summer and bought a Ficus for his dad. He saw me using the treasurer of the IBC's business card as a bookmark, and he's been pretty cool about it since. Also the class is 1st period, so I'm the only student who ever speaks up about anything. It's satisfying to be able to expand on the ideas that he's quoting from the textbook. Who knew knowing what N-P-K means would help me out in my science class?

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