Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Turning weeds into Bonsai

I noticed a mulberry tree growing along the fence in the back yard. I like mulberry trees (especially the berries) but it was just a bad location for it. For a couple years I chopped it off, but it kept growing back. I couldn't help but respect it's tenacity. Also I admired how ugly it was looking... so thought it would make a perfect bonsai.

To dig it up, I used a small spade, and carefully dug all the dirt out around it. I got down to roots that were about 1/4 inch in diameter, and then pulled it the rest of the way out. I didn't think it would survive a major pruning, so I put it in a temporary pot, to recuperate. Whenever you repot a plant, it destroys the little hairlike root fibers that are responsible for taking up moisture and nutrients.

It's crucial to keep the plant well watered since it's going to have a hard time getting water (until the roots can heal). After a day or so, most all the leaves on the plant dried up and died. I figured it would pull through though, since I had been chopping the thing to the ground for years.

Within a week or so, new growth reappeared. I'll keep this in the normal pot for a few months, then do a major pruning on the roots and branches, to force it into a smaller bonsai container. It's already looking like a weathered and ancient tree. I was think of exposing more of the roots, and wrapping them around some rocks.


KW said...

Cool! Hey do you remember that show we used to watch everyday on channel 9 - a guy would just make bonsai trees. that's all he did and it was mesmerizing.

he used to cut the roots shorter, about half. he said it was a big growth stunting trick.

sevkeifert said...

Yeah, that was a cool show. I think he called it "American Bonsai." I was amazed at how he'd hack around on the plants.

I'll try chopping the roots down. I think if the tree survives me yanking it out the ground, it should survive just about anything. :)