Submissions for the trunk fusion competition

TOPIC: Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission

Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 4 months ago #8663

Bill from International Bonsai came through for me and now I have 10 lovely lacebark chinese elms! They might not be the best species for this but they grow fast (from what I have read) so maybe that will help out in the fusion. Its only 10 but I don't have very much to spend on seedlings (though I wish I could :) ). More pictures and the process to come later when i have the time to start. Can't wait to see how this turns out!

(The smaller bundle are a dwarf variety of Japanese maple that wont be used for this project but I didn't feel like cropping out of the picture)

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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 4 months ago #8665

Cool stuff!

Wish I had a bundle of these too!
Ficus and bonsai. Lots can be said.
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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 4 months ago #8669

So I had some time today and thought I would start on this project. I unwrapped my seedlings and found that I had 13 lightly branched seedlings (maybe 2 seasons old?) I also noticed that they all had one main tap root and very little fine root mass. Maybe they were plucked from the ground harshly? I don't know.

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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 4 months ago #8670

Two other things that I noticed were that some of the roots were sort of squishy (with two of them being noticeably rotten as you can see in the close up). I also looked at the branches and it looks like the buds are still very dormant. They shipped from New York State which I guess is still very cold? (the Chinese elms around here have already hardened off their new leaves).



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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 4 months ago #8671

Because of these things I decided that I should wait on starting to trunk fuse them until i knew which of these would give off buds and which would die. Since I did not want the roots to stay in the muddy clay they had on them, I decided to clean off the roots (Attachment 4) and pot them in a very loose, well draining potting mix that would easily be removed later when i want to work on them (It is ~60% Pummice, 30% perlite, and 10% potting soil). Since they didnt have many fine roots i figured that this mix would be easy to remove without too much damage to the roots.





I trimmed some of the rot off the two worst seedlings and planted them in the same mix in a separate pot (so that the visible fungus/mold would not spread to the healthier seedlings.


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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 4 months ago #8672

After a thorough watering I looked more closely at my little trees. The two separated ones i kept the upper root in the open, hoping it will dry out some. Does anyone know if fungiside is worth purchasing to save these or the others?





The other seedlings I did the same to (but to a lesser extent). I also noticed that the branching occurs rather low, so maybe i will have to cut some of the lowest branches off if they get in the way, but i will try to preserve as many as I can when I put them all together.



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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 3 months ago #8689

I have been getting rather eager to start actually fusing my elms together so I have been reading as much as I can about grafting and this process and of course this led me to Fusionbonsai.com , where one of our esteemed judges (Greg) posts his progress and findings (very helpful). From this I have learned a lot that I was wondering as well as some things I would like to avoid. Waiting to start has been frustrating but it has given me the opportunity to think through things and make a plan. Here are some of the things I am planning on doing:

Timing:

Greg suggests doing all of this while the tree is dormant because we must bare root the seedlings. I might be waiting too long in my desire to see at least some buds swell but I was thinking that the more sap that is flowing the better the better the wounds will heal (more on why there are wounds to start with below).

The method:

Greg uses a wire frame to achieve a very dramatic taper which, though impressive and powerful in appearance, is not to my own tastes for this project. I will simply be bundling these together as tightly as I can. Since I am only using 10-13 seedlings, there wont be many are completely surrounded (most likely to die?). I might not get the massive 4-6 inch trunk with the dramatic taper, but my hope is that I will get decent taper and a 1-1.5 inch trunk.

Another thing I think I will change is the method of applying pressure. I don't like the scarring that the twist ties give to the trunk and if I can, I would like to avoid the sort of bumps that form, if I can. I know that these will fade with time, but I am going for a smaller tree overall and so these bumps might be more noticeable. Instead of using twist ties, I am going to bind all the trees together using Rafia, lots of it. In addition, I am going to treat these more like a traditional approach graft and wound the connecting points slightly by carefully scraping away the outermost layers until I reach the cambium. Keeping the wounds aligned without twist ties is going to be tricky but I have some ideas that I will show with pictures when I do it.

I know that wounding them like this may stress the plants too much or they may dry out so I am going to wrap the fusion points in parafilm to reduce water loss at the wound sites. Parafilm is like a combination between wax paper, saran wrap and grafting tape.

Hopefully my modifications give me something that is fused and looks good, while giving me a good potensai to work on in the future. any comments or criticisms are welcome.
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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 3 months ago #8819

I have been patiently waiting for some signs of life from my seedlings to let me know which ones i should use for this project and so far I dont see anything. no buds swelling (that i can discern) or anything. I'm beginning to worry if they are all just dead as they ahve been in the warm california climate for several weeks now. All the elms around here have leafed out around here weeks ago. even the later trees around. Does anyone have any advice? I may just have to go for it and if they are all dead then at least i tried.
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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 3 months ago #8831

since the deadline is fast approaching i decided i should just go for it and modify my plans accordingly. There are still no buds but the cambium is still green so they are not entirely dead (yet?)



I carefully removed the soil around the roots so that i did not disturb any new fine roots that formed (it looked like some had indeed formed but that might be my hopeful imagination)


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Aaron's (Science as a verb) submission 5 years 3 months ago #8832

It looked like one or two of the seedlings were still bad so i removed them and planted them separately. Also, some of the bases had been badly eaten by what might be slugs or some other insect. I may decide to purchase a systemic insecticide.






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