Red Bhut Bonchi Experiment

Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9August 10, 2014

This particular plant never has grown right compared to it's other siblings. For all I know it may not even be the same type. It's always had droopy mottled leaves and bolted straight up whereas the others are a bit bushier. Even the stem is droopy so had to tie it up...

So I decided to give it the Fatalli Bonchi treatment (link below). I started by trimming the lower leaves a couple weeks ago. Now that new growth has sprouted down there, off with it's head!

Looking better already.

Will update this thread as the plant progresses.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fatalli.net

This post was edited by mecdave on Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 8:05

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ironmike_usmc zone 6A CT

Wow! That's a really cool (and informative) link! I really hope it works for you. I think the Bolivian Rainbow Bonchi looks especially nice. Definitely keep us updated with the progress. Best of luck.

Mike

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:55PM
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alynne68

Those bonchis made me "Ohh!" out loud all by myself! As someone with limited space I am going to try. Thank you for the link!!!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 4:53PM
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tomt226

Thanks! Bookmarked it...

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:05AM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Week 2 update - The plant is doing great. There was considerable fertilizer burn (nutrient overload) that damaged the leaves shortly after cutting the plant down. You can see a couple of the bad leaves still on the plant after trimming it up this morning.

Also note the exposed roots. I've been pulling dirt out of the pot in order for the larger roots to get a chance to harden up before re-potting.

Will probably pot down in a couple weeks after it's developed some more branches. Bonchi training wire on the way in the meantime.

PS In hindsight, a chinense pepper with large leaves may not be the best candidate for a bonchi project. I imagine the proportions are going to look a bit odd. Too late now! :-)

Edit note: Josh has pointed out the leaf burning could have been sunburn instead of fert burn and I agree. In fact I had moved the plant to a shadier spot right after the burn appeared. Something to consider when topping a plant, even if the trunk had been exposed for awhile previous to topping.

This post was edited by mecdave on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 14:45

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:19AM
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ironmike_usmc zone 6A CT

That's awesome. I was looking forward to another post on this. If this wasn't my first year growing (and I had the guts to do it to one of my own!), I'd definitely hack one of my plants up! Such a cool project. Keep the updates coming!
-Mike

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:27PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Why do you think it was fertilizer burn rather than sunburn on the new / exposed leaves? Did the leaves turn orange-brown along the margins as they do when burned by fert's?

Josh

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:20PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Thanks Mike. I've started trimming lower leaves and branches on a couple large Tabasco plants too. Figured they would make good looking bonchi too. Will add them to the list later.

Josh. Good question, and you may be right. In fact right after the leaves started burning I moved the plant to where it would receive much more shade from other plants. I wasn't sure it was sunburn though since all those lower leaves had already been exposed for a few weeks before topping the plant.

So yeah, I think I'll amend my previous post to include the possibility of sunburn. Thanks.

Update: I knew I should have taken a photo of the red bhut before trimming. Anyway, here are a few of the leaves I trimmed this morning...

This post was edited by mecdave on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 14:58

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:40PM
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alynne68

Definitely going to do this. Is taking the balcony plants at the end of the season and cutting them back the way to go?

Alison

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 8:16PM
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pepperchuck(8b coastal MS)

Super cool! Alison, that is what I'm planning on doing with a bunch of mine. It's going to be my way of over wintering (or at least my attempt at overwintering). Some are going to get the full treatment of branch training.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 8:51PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

This will be the first year of overwintering anything so I'm certainly not the expert to ask. But the concept is the same, just a bit more extreme with Bonchis, I believe.

With both you will be downsizing the pots and trimming the tops. How far you take it is up to you. At this point in the season I would, and am, trimming large leaves and stems at the base of a few other plants to expose them to sunlight to encourage leaf sprouts and hardening of the main stems and roots.

Also searching for a cheap source of bonsai pots to determine how many and how small I want to go.

Also imagining which peppers would look good bonchi sized. For instance, my poblanos are very large plants and have fantastic looking, thick stems. Perfect for a bonchi tree, but I'm not sure how cool they would look with pods. Certainly not as fine as a Bolivian Rainbow or Chinese 5 Color.

Have fun, I am. ;-)

This post was edited by mecdave on Mon, Aug 25, 14 at 21:08

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 8:54PM
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alynne68

mecdave,

Hope I'm not hijacking this thread. Thought about starting a new one, but there is already so much info here.

I am having the same struggle with which to bonchi.

Think definitely the Bode. It has a strong stem and small fruits which I think will look good:

Wanted to do the Chupitinho, but the main stem is growing sideways. The teardrop fruit would look great though.

The strongest stem is from the cobra, but worry that the leaves and peppers are too large to work well

Last option is the Billy goat. Strong stem, smallish round peppers

Thoughts and ideas?

Also bought 2 bonsai pots on amazon from Bonsai Boy. About $30 each but will suit for houseplants if this doesn't work.
They come attached to the saucer with screens and wire already attached. Not sure how to work the wire though.

The Fatali link you posted said to use regular potting soil, not a bonsai mix. Thoughts?

Also got small grain Akadama for the bottom of the pots.

Look forward to see how you are progressing, again, thanks for the post. I had never heard of these, but can't wait to try!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:21PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

I would say they're all good candidates except for the chupitinho. It's similar to my habanero with the multiple low branching stems. I plan on just doing the basic overwintering routine with it... smaller pot, not too heavily trimmed.

The cobra would even look good as a taller tree since the pods are so long, imo. Your pots are large enough to support a bigger plant. If it doesn't work out you can always grow it large again next year.

For screen I'll just be cutting up an old window screen, and instead of Akadama I'll be using floor dry, a clay like absorbent used in garages for soaking up spills.

I'm trying hard not to invest too much into this until I see how it works out, but I did splurge on a couple small succulent plants to help dress up the pots. Some good luck needed on finding moss in this drought though. ;)

PS For potting soil I plan on using Miracle Grow Potting Mix. It's what my plants are already growing in.

This post was edited by mecdave on Tue, Aug 26, 14 at 21:14

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 8:08PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Week 3 - Moving right along.

Potted up the Ghost today. Not your traditional bonsai pot I know, but you take what you can get out here in the sticks. Besides, the root system was so thick (thanks to Happy Frog Jump Start), I couldn't bring myself to chop it up and thin it out much.

Once it recovers from the transplant shock, I'll trim the large leaves again. I've been doing that once a week.

I've also started playing around with cloning. (link to guide below)

Here are a couple of the half dozen tabasco plants I've started.

Note: After the photos were taken all pods, buds, and large leaves were trimmed off. Also, they're just sitting in the pots temporarily. They're actually stuck in stonewool squares as per the instructions.

How are yours coming along alynne?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cloning Guide

This post was edited by mecdave on Mon, Sep 1, 14 at 10:10

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 10:08AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I like the exposed roots. They make the plant look older, like the original dirt it was in eroded away.

Dennis

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 12:55PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Week 4 - I found a lady selling moss on Amazon, five varieties for $20. I've used 3 of the 5 below and still have enough for 3 or 4 more pots.

The instructions that came with the moss threw me for a loop. First, they can't be exposed to direct sunlight for any length of time or they'll die. I've now got the bonchi surrounded by pepper bushes so we'll see how that works out.

The instructions also said not to keep them wet, but mist them twice a day. That's not a problem since I l do that with all my pepper plants already.

Also said not to expose them to fertilizer or it will kill them. Uh Oh. I'm using Miracle Grow Potting Mix and will need to fertilize the Bhut regularly. So I scraped out about an inch of MG off the top and filled in with a cheap potting soil that doesn't contain any ferts. Moss don't have roots so they won't be burrowing down to the MG.

Also dug down deep behind the pepper and filled the hole with aquarium gravel. Then placed a rock over that area. Now whenever I need to water the pepper, with or without liquid ferts, I simply remove the rock and slowly fill up the gravel chute.

Hey Dennis, yeah I like the exposed roots too. Unfortunately I bumped one of the more gnarly ones when digging soil out and broke it. I guess it was a dead one so will have to be more careful in the future.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 12:49PM
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northeast_chileman(6a)
    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Ha, thank you NECM. It's my own little green oasis in this otherwise drought ravaged landscape (other than the rest of the pepper plants of course). ;-)

This post was edited by mecdave on Sat, Sep 6, 14 at 14:58

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 2:06PM
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ironmike_usmc zone 6A CT

Haha! You took the words right out of my mouth! I was gonna say it's like your own little oasis! Looks awesome! A little slice of paradise right in your own backyard. You could put 2 Corona bottles next to it and film a commercial!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 6:37PM
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ironmike_usmc zone 6A CT

What's the word, Mecdave? It's been a few weeks. How's she lookin'?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 7:42PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

It bites. Fireants moved in and covered up and killed some of the moss before I noticed. I removed all the moss and started treating the plant with Neem, without success, and now have it dusted with cornmeal in an attempt to kill them off in a non-toxic manner.

All my other plants have the clear plastic pie pans under the pots which did a good job of discouraging the fireants from setting up house. Unfortunately the bonchi was next to one of those pots with the leaves touching so the ants used it to get to the other plant.

Anyway, will clean the bonchi up later today and take photos of it and another one I made with one of my tabascos.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 7:35AM
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ironmike_usmc zone 6A CT

Aw, that sucks. Sorry to hear it. Looking forward to the pics, though, whenever you get some time.

Mike

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 11:11AM
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ironmike_usmc zone 6A CT

Aw, that sucks. Sorry to hear it. Looking forward to the pics, though, whenever you get some time.

Mike

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 11:13AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Corn meal doesn't kill ants. They take it back to their nest and feed the larvae with it. Switch to something else that actually works.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 12:33PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

"Switch to something else that actually works."

Whatever, dead or alive they're gone now. Works for me.

Looks like I need to do some trimming and wire training...

I like the gnarly roots on the tabasco. I've got it perched on a softball sized rock that I may or may not remove once I re-pot it to a shallow bonsai pot.

This post was edited by mecdave on Wed, Oct 1, 14 at 14:10

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 2:01PM
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ironmike_usmc zone 6A CT

Haha! That's wild! It looks like I gigantic 150 year old tree with those roots, just scaled way, way down. Almost like a "model" of a tree. Awesome job!

Mike

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 2:35PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

> "kill them off in a non-toxic manner"

Uhh... oxymoron much?

.
Great looking pots!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 1:29PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

"Uhh... oxymoron much? "

Hey hey hey... my oxen are not stoopid!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 3:41PM
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tomt226

Damn nice looking. You should email your progress to Texas Gardener. They'll print it, and you'll be famous.
They love stuff like that...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2014 at 3:43PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Thanks guys. I appreciate the kind words.

Tom, I dunno. Next thing you know Central Texas Gardener will want me to be on their show and I'll have to shave and get a haircut and a new shirt and the next thing you know I'll be talking in all mono tones like the host and I just don't think I can handle all that!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2014 at 7:37AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I was gonna say that this is Texas and we don't allow LA-style fame here. But IIRC you are near Austin where the rules are a little different...

You do need a haircut, though, so send the pics.

Dennis

    Bookmark   October 3, 2014 at 4:33PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Nope, escaped from that blue pimple in an otherwise red state 28 years ago. When my dear bride came home one day and told me her journalism professor had declared my Readers Digest bad (bride couldn't explain why, just bad), that was the beginning of the end and I haven't looked back.

So that's another reason not to do it. The studio is in Austin. Nope, ain't gonna happen. ;-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2014 at 5:15PM
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alynne68

OK. I'm trying.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2014 at 5:38PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Looking good Alynne. Which varieties did you decide to try out?

I'm always a bit nervous to cut all the leaves off, but they don't seem to mind. Here's another Tabasco I cut down last week. I did leave the little shoots down at the base, but it was otherwise bare.

Here's a Serrano I started last week. It's already got a bunch of new growth...

And here's an update on the first Tabasco. Not sure if/when I'll trim those bottom sprouts. I like the bushy look.

No update on the Red Bhut. The fireants really did a number on the roots, apparently, as the plant got a bit pale and really hasn't grown much. It's starting to green up again though so it's back on track.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2014 at 2:10PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I'd whack the top off the Tabasco and train the lower branches to become the main canopy.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 12, 2014 at 2:25PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

You know Josh, that's a good idea. That is the plant that has the rock under the roots, so once it's in a shallow pot that low down canopy will be plenty tall.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2014 at 2:47PM
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alynne68

The first is a Bod'e chili. Small peppers, strong stem. Got a little carried away on the trimming but seeing small signs of growth.

The second is the Cobra. It will be interesting to see the difference between the one I trimmed completely and the one I left some growth on.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2014 at 12:24PM
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alynne68


Brought them inside. Not quite freezing, but made a space. West window. Hope it will do. Also adding a pic of my fermenting, because I can.

A little worried about the peppers being too low in the jar, but that's all I had.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2014 at 9:33PM
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