Marcela Ferreira’s demonstration at the August meeting offered excellent advice for working with our native trees and most significantly in creating bonsai. She argues that styling natives should reflect the natural growth habit of the species. This means it is important to work with the tree rather than working in a way that doesn’t reflect its preferred growth habit.
Many native trees tend to grow upwards and while the canopy may look dense, when one stands underneath the tree, there is often a mass of branches with light easily able to filter through the canopy.
There is good news for those of us who took a native tree in December as part of our Native Bonsai Challenge because Marcela highly recommends beginning with tube stock although it is essential they should have a good root system if they are to survive. Tube stock is more pliable and this means that wiring and bending is more easily done and can achieve more dramatic results in the long run.
The initial repot should be into a 100mm orchid pot and once the trunk reaches a certain thickness it can be transplanted into a 200mm orchid pot. If the tree is being grown towards an even larger size, the last growing pot would be 300mm.
Repotting can be done all year round although the tree needs some shelter before it resumes its normal position. Marcela recommends taking approx 5cm from the base and sides of the roots for repotting and that this should be done every 2 or 3 years.
Major actions such as repotting should be done without any other actions such first major styling or restyling. It is recommended to leave few months or so between each major process.
Avoid branches getting leggy when developing the tree and there is also no need to use ‘sacrifice’ branches as the tree will thicken naturally if pruning is done evenly which then distributes energy evenly along the tree.
It is important to avoid reverse taper by avoiding multiple branches coming from the same spot on a branch. All cuts should be made flush to the branch and made on an angle to prevent rot. There is no need to cover the cut area with paste as the tree will heal itself.
The advice that we heard from Marcela throughout her visit is worth repeating:
The worst thing you can do with your tree is to do nothing!
From Boxing Day until March, Marcela affords her trees 70% beige shade cover. Her concern with green or black shade cover is that as the branches grow to reach light there is a higher chance they will become leggy and lose ramification.
Marcela’s potting mix
1 part zeolite
1 part diatomite (or pumice)
2 parts Orchiatta orchid nuggets
1/2 part perlite (smaller than 6)
1/2 part Coco Peat
Sprinkle of Seamungus mixed through
Avoid Osmocote as the coating doesn’t break down.