Friday, April 27, 2012

Umbrella tree (Schefflera) - one of my exotic trees.

This tree was growing in a clay pot but over years it's roots grew through the draining holes and eventually the pot cracked because of all the roots.

Here is the tree in the broken pot and roots growing into the paving:

Here is the tree removed but not planted July 2009:
I left some longer branches because I was still uncertain which direction to take this in but in the end decided to chop them and it was potted up after the roots were reduced. Here is the tree January 2010:
 Some more branches reduced and some carving done June 2010:
i could have shortened the tree more but thinking of making a open umbrella style crown and decided against that at that stage. Here is the tree(two views) defoliated January 2011:

From the last photo taken I have left the tree to grow freely. Will update soon.

The tree August 2012:

The tree has grown out well. Waiting for warmer weather before cutting it back and defoliating it.

October 2012:

 Cut back and semi defoliated:

Not very happy with the outcome. I should have cut back the long trunks a long time ago. I will repot the tree onto a slab and place the tree in the garden as a permanent display.

July 2014:

I have left the tree to grow out freely. It has formed a lot of aerial roots - will see if I am going to keep them. I am going to start feeding the tree for the cut back end August. Will update then.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Baby Jade (Portulacaria afra prostrate form)

This is a creeping (prostrate)form of Portulacaria afra:

 I removed the plant from the container by washing it out using a garden hose. This is the same plant today:

The variegated form:

I was also very lucky to get two variations of the upright form recently while on holiday in Eastern Cape along the roadside growing naturally. The cuttings were not planted for a month while on holiday but two cuttings survived:

The cork bark prostrate form:

The nodes are shorter and the leaves are smaller on the prostrate form. They cascade easily.
 Here is one I am trying in a weeping style(March 2013):

This species is untapped as bonsai and I believe we will see them becoming a very popular beginners bonsai- they are much better than the normal Baby Jade species- smaller leaves, shorter internodes and their trunks age much quicker.

Here is a progression on one of mine. (This plant is about 15cm high):

July 2009:

January 2010 in it's new pot:

May 2010. I am trying to pull the apex to the front - doing it very slowly because I don't want it to snap:

April 2012- Free growing for a few weeks and I am thinking of making this side the new front:

The tree today(March 2014):
(Still not happy with it!)
Portulacaria afra 2-Another fun project in a Baobab style:

March 2014:

My newest fun project, a Baoabab raft style Portulacaria:

My latest fun project using this species:
I used a thick cutting because I want the new roots to grab the rock tightly. I draped the rock with sphagnum moss to keep the cutting moist and  I have also wired the cutting to the rock to keep it stable.
I will let it grow wild for a while to develop strong roots. When I am happy with the roots I will start styling the crown.

Here is another root on rock project I am busy with.

The rock:

The areas I want to grow the cuttings:
The rock planted with cuttings:
Most of the cuttings were clued to the rock.

The planting in February 2012:

I have cut back the cuttings twice in 2013 and will start styling the individual trees in September 2013.

Two others I am working on(March 2014):

When the species is actively growing in warm weather it can take a lot of water. In winter I let the soil dry out before watering again.

When I transplant the trees in summer I cut the roots and cut back the top, pot the tree up in a dry mix and only water three days later. This prevents rotting.

Twigs can be cut back to the last opposite leaves - fine twigs may die back if no leaves are left. Luckily the tree bud back profusely and twigs can be shortened over time.

To reduce leaf size old leaves can be halved as soon as the new buds are visibly growing.

The species grow very easy from cuttings, especially if they are left a few days in shade to dry out.

The trunks will fuse if the outer cells are damaged and the trunks wrapped very tightly.