Chinese Elm Bonsai Restoration

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Hi everyone today I want to share with You something special What this says is I bought myself a Bonsai tree this is a large and very old Chinese in home that I was lucky enough To purchase from another collection and It has a lot of good things going for For one thing it’s quite old probably Around 50 years old and for another it Has a massive trunk here so let’s take a Look at this tree it’s been Traditionally shaped and if you notice a Slight resemblance between this and some Of my own trees it’s because the Gentleman who grew this tree took Lessons from one of the same people who Taught me at one time now let’s look at The branch progression we’ve got the First branch and here we have a problem Unfortunately this tree has been out of The sunlight for a little bit too long And we’ve lost two lower branches so Would it go on first branch Counterbalance second branch third Branch back branch front branch but We’ve lost these two and if you’ll Remember my previous Chinese elm video If you look at this one and look inside You don’t have much in the way of leaves On the inner branch as close to the Trunk Unlike the tree that I’ve worked on and The video that I posted a week ago so These are things that have to be

Corrected with this tree and we’re going To do this in two phases the first thing We’re going to do is it needs a good Pruning you notice that it’s still Putting on good growth out on the outer Surface and that’s because it’s been Trying to reach the light and again it Came at the expense of the inner Branches so what we’re going to do is We’re going to prune this back and we’re Going to go from whatever the branch Length is back to one or two sets of Leaves on each tip and we’re going to Try to get it to bud back to the inside Then get light and air to the inner part Of the tree but the second thing we’re Going to try to do This last week’s tree was my inspiration For this remember on that tree there was A pruning scar down low where I had Taken off a big branch and there was a Large sucker growing out of there a new Branch so I’m thinking if we cut these Dead branches back to live wood and give This train enough soil and enough Fertilizer and enough nutrients maybe we Get lucky and we get some new growth at That point so let’s get started now First off I’m like junipers we don’t do Deadwood on Chinese Elms so what we’ll Do with these dead branches coming back We’re gonna need the bigger one yes and We’re gonna cut them back till we get The wide wood now this is obviously dead

Here this is a fairly old branch – Judging by the growth rings and we’re Still not quite at wide wood yet and We’re getting closer I’m seeing a little Bit of live kami in there so not there We are now we’re live wood and like I Said if we’re lucky when this heals and Scars if we feed the tree enough Nutrients we’ll get some new growth from That spot now we’ll do the same thing on This and that’s still dead wood and That’s still dead wood and now we’re at Live wood here okay so let’s leave those And now let’s go to small shears and Let’s just start taking this back and We’ll just start pruning here and going Around and try to get Try to get the growth to reach back into The inside of the tree now at this point I’m not overly focused on a shape Because before we can reshape the tree You’ve got to get it healthy and get Good growth and you can see even on this Branch here which is apparently healthy We’ve had die backs here where either The leaves fell off last winter and Didn’t appear in the spring or it’s more Recently died back due to lack of light But either way it’s not a good thing for The tree and in order to get this right We have to do some serious work here [Music] Now the reason this gets like this is Because the branches above are shading

It out relentlessly capped in a location That didn’t get quite enough sunlight But when you let the upper branches get Too long they’ll shade out the lower Branches and this one basically died Because this one above it shaded it out And same with this one this one here Shaded it out Well Chinese Elms that’s the typical Reason why we don’t go for kind of this Doing tree shape here we go for a bit More of a cone shape so that the upper Branches don’t shade out the lower ones And kill them off if you want to do the Rounded dome tree shape my Recommendation for that is instead of Doing a Chinese elm uses alcove ax a Japanese Elm because those are more Shade tolerant and with those you’re far Less likely likely to lose lower Branches if you let the crown get to the Full now I’m just working on this one Branch here right now and once I finish Yet then I’m going to step back and take A bit of a look and see how it fits into The context of the tree overall and I Kind of chose this branch arbitrarily I Could have started just about anywhere But it’s the lowest branch above the Dead ones and it’s a good starting point Because it’s part of what caused us to Lose those branches at this point we’ve Cleaned up the lower branches and the Good news is some of the trees original

Bone Style is starting to emerge the bad news Is were starting to see just how serious The lack of inner growth is in these Lower branches the next stage is to Clean up the top so that you can get Some like air into the inner branches so That the tree wants to grow there so We’ll just continue working on the tree Here and same pattern that I’ve been Following which is I take a chute take It back to the first two nodes of growth One of the real ways that we can tell That this tree is suffering for lack of Light and air is the leaves on the Outside are much larger than the ones on The inside now I’m also trying to go in Through here and carefully looking Because I want to try to restore the Branch differentiation that this tree Had what was originally shaped Now at this point I am letting the Length of the lower branches to some Extent dictate what I do but I have to Be careful with that because if I remove All the leaves and I go back to Something that’s already in trouble like Here this little branch we’ve got a Branch that’s died back in here and You’ll see that’s dry and dead there and This is part of the problem here with Yep that’s Deadwood there and that’s Part of the problem we got with the Street is that you have too much of that

Going on So it just keeps steadily treading and Working until we rediscover a Discernible branch structure now up here This can get really difficult because We’ve got some stuff that it maybe needs In order to be part of the shape this Let’s leave that in some ways this is Almost like an archaeological expedition Because we’re trying to discover what The intent of the original shaper of the Tree was discovering a fair amount of Dead growth on the inner branches here And that’s making things a bit more Difficult what I’m trying to do is we Establish black planes of foliage not Just because that’s part of the bonsai Aesthetic but also because it helps Foster good growth by getting the Lighten air to be in a branch s where They need it this branch here we’ve got Part of an upper branch here and it’s Kind of come down onto it and they need To deal with that and then the upper Plays of this branch of the up upward Growth on this branch has just gotten to Two straggly and to leggy and we just Need to keep trimming back trimming back Coming back So we continue going back to one or two Nodes on each branch tip and trying to Open things up yeah and I’m trying to Step back and see where we are look at The tree now I’m starting to see some

Discernible structure here we’re Starting to have something so let’s just Keep going keep working and keep putting Overgrowth see where we end up one thing I encountered in cleaning this tree out Was a lot of dead inner twigs which Again indicates to me the tree was Simply suffering from black and white But at this point we’ve removed all of The overgrowth we’ve taken just about Every chute on the tree back to roughly Two nodes and growth and we’ve thinned It out to the point where light can Reach the lower branches easily and Hopefully this will start the tree on Its way back to good health now it won’t Be a part of this video I’m also going To repot this tree into a deeper pot With a larger soil volume and the Previous owners soil composition is not What I use it’s something different I Don’t know what it is and I won’t know Until I take the tree out and examine The roots but I’m going to go with my Tried-and-true soil recipe simply Because I know that it works And although this pot is quite beautiful And the effect of the whole tree and the Shallow pot is very striking this tree Is going to have to be in a deeper pot At least for the next couple of years so That it can regain its health and regain The inner growth in here and hopefully Put some new growth on these places were

Lost branches so that we can fully Reestablish it’s a ridge Image so this concludes our work for Today we have thinned it out we removed All the dead twigs we’ve cleaned it up So let’s do a 360 and I’ll show you what The tree looks like Thank you for watching folks You

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