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In Vivo Bonsai: Simplified Protocols for Yamadori Assortment, Aftercare, and Preliminary Bonsai Coaching

            In preparation for the 2nd Annual CBS / Columbus Recreation & Parks Division Invasive Honeysuckle Yamadori [Wild Bonsai] Dig occasion, I needed to place to phrases a really simplified protocol for the way to take a freshly dug yamadori from the forest and the way to start to coach it as a bonsai tree. Clearly, the pace of growth varies primarily based on the species and well being of the tree and a few steps might even happen at seasonally completely different instances particularly if you’re in a unique local weather than me right here in USDA Hardiness Zone 6, Ohio, USA. Noting that these exceptions are sure to hit you sooner or later, let this be a place to begin and take it for what it is value. To exemplify that protocol, let’s comply with the event of my additional giant honeysuckle raft yamadori which I rescued from culling in a neighborhood Columbus park finally yr’s first invasive removing collaboration. You’ll be able to examine our earlier expertise internet hosting that occasion right here, and you may see different examples of famend honeysuckle bonsai right here


  1. Occasion Description – 2nd Annual Columbus Bonsai Society / Columbus Recreation & Parks Invasive Yamadori [Wild Bonsai] Dig
  2. Normal Protocol for Temperate Deciduous Species Yamadori Assortment
  3. Normal Protocol for Yamadori Aftercare
  4. Normal Protocol for Preliminary Bonsai Coaching – First Repot, Early Pruning, and many others.
  5. Honeysuckle Raft Case Examine
    1. Spring 2022 Digging
    2. Fall 2022 Pruning
    3. Spring 2023 Repotting + Pruning
  6. Bulletins
    1. I formally utilized with the state of Ohio to start out a nursery. Contact me to enroll in my first workshop on Tanuki! See particulars right here. The second workshop shall be on Sunday, 4/23/23 from 12pm-3pm. Contact me if you need to request an extra date.
    2. 4/15/23 – 2nd Annual Invasive Honeysuckle Wild Bonsai Dig with CBS and Columbus Recreation & Parks @ Castro Park. It is a free occasion. Join right here.
    3. 4/16/223 – Columbus Bonsai Society Assembly – I shall be presenting on the ins and outs of digging Yardadori/Yamadori/Wild Bonsai. All are welcome. See occasion particulars at
    4. Seeds can be found right here.
My extra-large honeysuckle yamadori raft, now freshly repotted into its first coaching bonsai pot.

            Though invasive vegetation will be the bane of conservationists and native plant lovers, of their native vary their intrinsic magnificence motivated their unique use in landscaping. Within the case of the invasive honeysuckle, one can get pleasure from their pink and white flowers, and crimson berries could make, and their indestructible nature makes them a terrific supply of free and low-risk plant materials for newbie bonsai artists (see examples of honeysuckle bonsai right here). Transplanting timber for bonsai is a dangerous enterprise, so what higher to apply with than timber which can be almost indestructible and simply replaceable within the worst-case situation?! Moreover, their invasive properties are simply restricted when the vegetation are container grown as fruit will be pruned off earlier than stepping into the atmosphere. Resulting from these components, the Columbus Bonsai Society is proud to collaborate with the Columbus Recreation and Parks Division for the 2nd Annual Invasive Yamadori [Wild Bonsai] Dig. We welcome all who’re involved in bonsai to hitch us at this occasion. Attendees will get to deliver house free plant materials, are entitled to three free CBS Newsletters to assist inform your first steps as bonsai artists, and are at all times welcome to deliver the plant to a CBS assembly for recommendation. Discover the month-to-month conferences at
This yr the occasion shall be on Saturday 4/15 from 9am-12pm at Castro Park. Join right here.

For a broad overview, the method of turning wild vegetation into bonsai goes as follows.

  1. Study to establish invasive honeysuckle or different species of curiosity in your space. Typically, invasive honeysuckle are ubiquitous all through the jap US and are a mixture of 4 species as I mentioned in final yr’s articles. These species have frequent traits – white flakey bark, leaves that emerge early, white flowers of distinct form, crimson berries, they usually are inclined to develop upright as small timber or shrubs. Do NOT confuse them with the vining honeysuckle species that are native. See right here for extra data. We’ll evaluate identification on-site on the occasion.
  2. Discover fascinating specimens within the forest. Bonsai will be made from woody vegetation of any form and dimension so long as you’ll be able to dig and carry it out and put it in a pot. Simply notice that smaller vegetation are far faster to dig and survive far more simply! Enticing traits for bonsai embrace motion, particularly within the decrease trunk, deadwood scars that present age, taper within the decrease trunk thickness, engaging floor roots/nebari, and helpful branching. See the dialogue of untamed honeysuckle and their engaging qualities/potential future designs right here for examples.
  3. Chop off undesirable lengthy, straight, taperless sections of the trunk and branches which won’t be used sooner or later design. Honeysuckle and lots of different deciduous species backbud simply so it’s okay in the event you’re left with a naked trunk.
    1. Many deciduous species are additionally tolerant of trunk chopping to arrange timber and induce backbudding whereas leaving them within the floor in your forest. Chances are you’ll need to do that out if in case you have an space you come back to yr after yr. I am going to share extra on my outcomes with this later.
  4. Dig a trench across the tree and pry beneath the tree. Sever giant roots till the tree is eliminated. Absolutely eradicating the basis system is the one herbicide-free methodology of eliminating invasive honeysuckle from the atmosphere. 
    1. Spring is the best time to dig for survival of the vegetation, however some species can survive summer season digs too. In chilly, snowy locations, fall digs are doable, and success is improved by means of a warmth pad or retaining the roots above 32F all winter with a heated chilly body. Fall/winter digs are additionally executed in hotter climates which not often see snow. There’s plenty of regional variation right here!
    2. For some species, if there may be solely a taproot and no superb feeder roots close to the trunk, it could be unlikely to outlive the dig. It is higher to depart these timber alone and save your time for different extra fruitful timber. A floor layer, air layer, or different “root enhancement” sort methodology might show you how to make use of those if you’re versatile on the removing timeline.
    3. For exceptionally giant timber which have the next failure charge following transplantation, chances are you’ll need to get an exceptionally giant rootball or do a partial trench of the tree in prior years to enhance your success charge. I’m nonetheless experimenting with this as effectively. Fortunately, this isn’t wanted for honeysuckle!
  5. Wrap the roots in a trash bag (sturdy black contractor luggage are most popular!). Electrical tape can also be helpful to tightly bind the rootball so there are minimal air areas between the bag and the roots. This helps hold the moisture in. It is a momentary resolution to get the plant house.

  1. Pot the plant right into a container it suits into as rapidly as doable after the dig (inside a pair days max). Minimizing this time minimizes stress and maximizes therapeutic. Some additional root pruning could also be executed however not an excessive amount of or it could not survive. Advantageous roots have to be left on the tree when potting as they’re the engine of your tree’s survival! Honeysuckle will not be choosy, use any potting soil you’ve accessible, however bonsai soil is most popular while you get extra superior or for older timber and extra delicate species that are difficult to transplant.
    1. This half can get nuanced for superior practitioners. I am going to simply go away you with the concept that 100% pumice is the popular bonsai soil to encompass freshly dug rootballs as this enables plenty of air into the pot and promotes plenty of superb root growth. Perlite is allegedly comparable, cheaper, and extra extensively accessible however my very own experiments with this are underway so I can’t say but. Attempt for your self and let me know!
    2. Massive timber will be put into custom-built wood pots. You can additionally go away them within the black contractor bag in the event you used the sturdy form and poke holes all through for water and air to get out and in of the rootball. I’ve executed this with success, however I can not say that it’s higher or worse. I am nonetheless accumulating knowledge on this methodology however it’s VERY handy (on time and value), and my trainer Dan Robinson has used this methodology with success for years.
  2. Depart the plant within the shade whereas it recovers from the dig for no less than the primary summer season because of the stress of warmth and water loss. Don’t fertilize for the primary few months after digging both as extra ions from fertilizer can dry out delicate new roots and kill the tree’s restoration. Water usually. Maintain the soil moist however not soaking moist.
  3. Water usually and fertilize frivolously all through the summer season. Honeysuckle ought to develop abundantly to proceed recovering; different species get well far more slowly. Survival is simply assured after 1 yr. Don’t prune except you might be assured in its survival.
  4. In winter, insulate your roots from and defend them from dry winter wind. This is similar advice as most bonsai, however very true for delicate freshly dug vegetation! You’ll nonetheless have to hold the soil moist as it might probably dry out even in winter.

  1. If the plant is clearly wholesome, chances are you’ll prune the plant again within the fall to eliminate undesirable branches and to shorten the branches you need to hold. Vegetation that didn’t have a lot new progress or new backbudding aren’t but vigorous and shouldn’t be pruned but! Wait till you see indicators like this.
  2. If the plant is clearly wholesome, you may repot the tree within the first spring after assortment to scale back the rootball and plant it in good bonsai soil. A partial naked root is the conservative methodology which is least dangerous for the well being of the tree, however on small or younger specimens, or sure species, a full naked root might not hurt the tree and means that you can most rapidly eliminate the native soil which is overly water retentive. Once more, save the superb roots as a lot as doable. The primary repot is a really delicate operation on an previous yamadori!
  3. Enter a cycle of periodic pruning and wiring of the branches to suit your design of selection. Once more, do these primarily on wholesome timber. If the plant is recovering from a foul yr, it could assist to let it develop out and prune it again once more later!

A. Spring 2022 Digging

B. Fall 2022 Pruning

                The tree grew vigorously with out pruning all summer season! Therefore, I pruned it again to some future department/trunklines within the fall. You may also see right here and within the subsequent part that I left the big and oddly formed rootball within the contractor bag for the primary yr with no ailing results on the tree (as mentioned in Step III-1-2).

C. Spring 2023 Repotting + Pruning

            The tree leafed out early whereas I used to be nonetheless busy digging new yamadori, so this repot is a bit late. Fortunately, the indestructible honeysuckle provides you some leeway!

You’ll be able to see there is a lengthy stretch on the left which I didn’t use within the design. It was too lengthy in any case! That additionally had roots and can turn into a separate tree.

One potential entrance. The deadwood has interesting sides on each instructions. Finally, I am going to have to get it right into a thinner pot.

Good hollows! Aka “uro” in Japanese.

Hollows and deadwood from the opposite finish.



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