Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Grafting new branches on Clerodendrum

Our club Clero has really developed some vigor, a perfect time to get on and do the intended branch grafting.

Here is the tree at the start of the process. I've tip pruned all the branches to slow them down and give new new branches a chance to catch-up. Most of the branches that have emerged have come on the left-hand side. Even with that there is a bit of a gap which needs to be filled as well as on the right hand-side.

First thing to do is to select locations for the new branches. I have 7 scions ready to go. I've placed some nails in the locations I want to sett he scions to check the general arrangement. The tree produced 8 branches to start with and more recently produced another at the right rear. So that will add up to 8 plus one plus 7 more. 16 branches will be a good place to start with this tree.

I've prepared 7 hairpin scions from a number of cutting that I have struck. Each scion is in itself a small rooted plant. The grafting process using rooted scions makes success less dependent on accuracy and not subject to challenges with dehydration of the scion. They will survive quite happily while incorporation proceeds.

This is one of the scion plants ready to use.

The young plants were not easy to bend into the 180 degree hairpins and as you can see from this closeup the bend was a bit snappy. However even if they do snap as long as some bark remains sound they will mend and survive. After a few weeks they callus over and are ready to use.

Here is one with the wire removed. Fairly lumpy but quite workable.

The next step is to drill a hole where the branch is to be placed. I start with two small pilot holes and then follow with a larger diameter drill, drilling down into the inner sapwood just past the cambium.This is to ensure contact between the cambium in the rootstock and the scion.

Scratching off a section of bark on the scion is the second part of bringing the cambiums into contact. This only need to be done of the arm which will be the new branch.

The hairpin scion is then placed into position.

A piece of wire with a twist in it is prepared to slip between the arms of the hairpin and hold it in position. As the hairpin grows unless it is held in position it could push its way out of the hole.

Here the retaining wire is secured to hold the scion in place.

It is then sealed with sealing paste to assist healing and incorporation.

This process is repeated another 6 times until all the hairpins have been placed.

If they grow as hoped and expected, within 6 to 8 weeks it might be possible to separate the scions from their pots for an independent life as part of the tree.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Clerodendrum comes back to life

In a little under two months since separating the air layer and a month since stripping off all the old branches the Clerodendrum (see posts from December)  has sent out a number of strong shoots.

 There are 8 in all but unfortunately they have mostly come from the left hand side. In anticipation I have prepared a number of hairpin scions for grafting. Once these have stabilised and put on a little growth I'll press them into action.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Australian pine air layering

In this post we have a series of photos from Brian to record the separation of an air layering he did done on an Casuarina equisetifolia or Australian pine. the equisetifolia is a species at home from Vietnam all the way through to eastern Australia. It is much used in Asia as a bonsai species and you can find many striking examples on line.

 This is the tree before the work started.One lower horizontal branch on the left before a big gap to a group of three branches. Also an unremarkable nebari. The plan was to air layer off the upper part just above that first branch.

 Here is the cut with a piece of copper wire wound arond the trunk to prevent the tree bridging the gap. This is a belt and braces move and not essential.

On top of that around the cut where the roots will form some rooting compound has been applied.
After this a 'pot' was put in place to hold potting mix to cover the layer cut.

Brian used what looks like a coke bottle which was left open at the top for easy watering. After just 12 weeks you can see the roots have progressed well from the bottom of the 'pot' where the cut was made. The pot had been wrapped with heavy 'duct tape' while the roots developed.

 The tree had one branch on an otherwise long and relatively bare lower trunk. The layering is positioned just above that left hand branch. This will create a shorter tree with better branch density and arrangement.

 With what can be seen in the pot there is no need to unwrap before separating, so here it is cut off.

 After the cut the base remains, alive and well and ready to be crafted into something unique!

 The new tree ready for potting.

 Wow what a great mass of roots.

 From underneath you can see an excellent strike around the full circumference.

Potted and ready to go. This one will not look back.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Clerodendrum next stage

Not even Christmas can get in the way of a Clerodendrum. You just cant hold them back.
I made the air layer separation just two weeks ago but in that time it has firmed up in its pot and started to shoot everywhere I gave it a trim. So it seemed like as good a time as any to get on and make the cuts to prepare it for new branch development, and make the most of the summer weather.

Here is is immediately after the separation.
Every branch that was cut has started to re-shoot - typically with many shoots on each branch.

Before the next stage of work - here is a closer view of the trunk and branches. In the upper part of the trunk you can see a rather unattractive straight section that visually conflicts with the pleasing movement in the rest of the trunk. None of the branches have much to commend and there are simply not enough of them to make a decent bonsai. They all have to go as does that unsightly straight section of trunk.

Here I've marked up the piece at issue.

Here the work begins with the branch removal.

Nearly there.

Just the last bit to go at the top.

Ive left the stub of that last branch to suggest a continuation of the trunk movement to the left. The trunk had a number of old branch removal stubs - from the original, presumably collection cuts. These cuts were flat and flush and so around the trunk I've carved these out too, to make more 'natural' hollows.

This is from the right.

And the back.

And finally the left hand side. Here you can see a few of both old and new branch wounds that have been hollowed out. The final stage, not shown here was to seal all the cuts with cut putty to prevent dehydration and maximize the chances for re-shooting higher up the trunk. Now we wait to see what it does. There should be a response within two or three weeks.
We are going to have a "Clero" day at the club at our January meeting. That will be an opportunity to see what this tree gets up to in the next 4 weeks.
Merry Christmas and HNY.