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pruning protocol

Posted by Deva33 5... southeast Iowa (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 19, 14 at 16:06

I read on here recently a procedure used to prune succulents. We all know about using a clean blade (I hope:) but someone mentioned to use a clean blade then cover it with something to help it heal and to stop it from putting out new growth in that spot. Wood glue maybe? I am working on training one of my jades to grow bonsai style and I'm just looking for some tips. While we are at it... should I put it in a bonsai pot? Jade roots dont go too deep anyway, right?


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 19, 14 at 16:36

I use waterproof wood glue to seal wounds on my bonsai trees and on succulents when it's a sure bet the tissue proximal to the cut is going to desiccate, shrink, and leave an ugly scar.

This Aeonium was truncated an inch or so above the soil line and the wound sealed with wood glue to prevent the wound from drying out and collapsing. The result was a large number of latent buds erupting from above old leaf bundle scars very near the chop. All the rest of the buds that broke lower on the stem were rubbed off before they got going. The end result was an unusual but planned departure from the plant's natural growth habit.

 photo misc034.jpg

The idea that wounds on plants shouldn't be sealed came from the work of Dr Alex Shigo, a truly remarkable man. He pioneered the idea that plants walled off their injuries, and that 'wound sealants or pruning sealers' could actually promote mechanical failure of woody plants many years down the road. We don't worry about mechanical failure of plants in pots, and since wound sealers DO promote faster closure of wounds, there is no reason to avoid using them when eye appeal of your planting is a consideration.

I like water-proof wood glue, but there are anti bacterial products used for bonsai trees, called cut paste, that work well, too. I know many growers that use Preparation-H (not kidding) to keep the wound from drying out. Moisture at the wound site facilitates healing. Very large wounds covered with wet sphagnum moss (not sphagnum peat) and wrapped with foil heal in a fraction of the time they would if left to their own devices. When we (bonsai practitioners) chop back trees that might be 10 ft tall in order to induce taper it creates some very large wounds.
 photo Treestuff001_zps94218294.jpg

But you can see the plant just keeps on ticking.
 photo prebonsai002_zps00df1811.jpg

And which reminds me I should pack that wound with moss - headed out to do that now.

Al


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by Deva33 5... southeast Iowa (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 19, 14 at 22:10

Wow! That is so cool! Ok. My little jade is small right now but I have a much better idea of what to do with it now. That Aeonium is inspirational! Seriously. I want that!

One question though. If I am pruning away branches towards the bottom to go from that bushy look to more of a tree look then should I still use the wood glue? It's dark here now, but if a picture would help to clarify what I mean then I can post tomorrow. Also, I am going to repot it into gritty mix before pruning. Would it be best for the plant to adjust to the repotting and growing roots before I prune & give it something else to send energy to?


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 20, 14 at 9:57

 photo screendetail034.jpg

If I prune a branch off of a portulacaria like above, and don't allow anything to back-bud on the stub, within 6 months the stup will dry up and break of cleanly where it was attached to the trunk or superior branch, with a minimal scar that heals quickly on its own, . Since I don't use jades for bonsai, someone else with some experience working with jades will have to tell you if what I described also holds true with jades. If it does, leaving a stub to dry out and eventually just pop off with your fingers would be best. If it doesn't, I would seal the wounds as you cut flush to the trunk or superior branch, or even form a slightly concave hollow at the pruning site.

Plants have a natural rhythm that, if you work with the rhythm instead of against it, will make things much easier for you. The best time to repot jades and portulacaria is from about Father's Day to the 4th of July, so it's getting pretty late to do a repot. The reason I say that is because they are strongest (in terms of energy reserves) and recover fastest when they are growing hard. Extension of branches slows after day length starts to shorten on Jun 21. Technically it's increasing dark period that stimulates this change, rather than shorter days, but that's another topic. At the same time extension slows, the plant starts storing energy instead of using it to push branch length and accompanying new foliage. Late repots mean slower recovery and a plant less able to tolerate the low light of an Iowa winter.

Also, pruning should be done about 2 weeks prior to a repot or after the plant resumes growth subsequent to repotting - so in early summer. The reason is, if you get into this rhythmic pruning habit, you'll be removing ALL of the lanky growth that comes in fall, winter, early spring. And new growth the plant puts on in Jun - mid-Sep is going to be tight, which is how you keep your plant full and compact. Save the summer growth - cut off the long winter growth. The annual pruning in summer also promotes MUCH more back-budding than pruning at any other time because of the high light conditions, air movement (because the plant is/should be outdoors), and most importantly, the plants high level of reserve energy has very significant influence on how well your plant back-buds. This promotes more ramification and more pruning opportunities you can take advantage of to keep your plant appealing to the eye.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven ... Ecclesiastes 3:1

Al

This post was edited by tapla on Wed, Aug 20, 14 at 10:08


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by Deva33 5... southeast Iowa (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 20, 14 at 12:01

Thanks Al! that portulacaria is beautiful - and looks very similar to a jade.

How can I find out when is the dormant/growing season for each of my plants? I am working on the identification of each but I still have 5-10 more that I haven't figured out yet. I will probably post on here soon if I cant figure it out myself. But, even when I do find the id it is difficult to find much information on the proper care for it, and much of the information is contradictory. If there a website or book that you recommend?


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 10:27

You're likely to find the same contradictions in books that you find on the net. I have observed that many growers use sort of a scattergun approach to growing. IOW, they try to incorporate every idea they read about that sounds reasonable into their growing regimen before they establish a simple and practical approach that's known to work, and branch out/experiment using an established and proven methodology as a base of operations.

I think the two areas most important to consistently healthy plants is a good understanding of How Water Behaves in Soils, and a good basic understanding of how plants work - physiology. You MUST be able to maintain a healthy root system if there's to be hope for a healthy plant, and growing decisions will come much easier if you understand the workings and natural rhythms of your plants, so I would suggest you read and gain a good understanding of the thread I linked to, and get an easy to understand book on basic physiology. Don't get a book that is so complicated you'll give up on trying to understand it.

Al


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by Deva33 5... southeast Iowa (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 11:05

Thanks Al. I have starting reading the link and it is a lot of information to get through. I have clicked on the additional links provded on the link and it seems to each begin with the same origional post, correct?

What do you usually use as a wick? Maybe just a piece of an old cotton t-shirt or something? I am thinking that might be beneficial for the plants that will remain in the previous soil until repotting around fathers day.


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 12:36

As time went on I added things to the original text, so the newest thread is the most complete. Some growers like to read the exchanges because there is a lot of good information to be had in the conversations subsequent to the OP.

For a wick, I use round strands from a 100% rayon mop head. You can use a man-made chamois cut in strips, too. Those are all rayon. Cotton rots quickly & doesn't work well. I've also used the string ties from onion and citrus mesh bags. Not all of them work, but the ones that do last indefinitely.

 photo 018.jpg
 photo 014.jpg

It's very good you're thinking about mitigation any effects excess water in the soil might have. The thread below deals specifically with how to work with soils that retain more water than you would like to have.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Click me for Dealing with water retention ....


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by rina_ 5a Ont (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 14:41

Al mentioned leaving little stub without putting anything on it when trimming/pruning jades. Here is the photo of one I did - that's the way I prune all jades. You can see 'leftover' shrivelling. It falls off when ready, I don't even look at it after pruning.
No sealant of any kind.
Both branches are new, sprouted after pruning.

Rina

This post was edited by rina_ on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 14:50


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by rina_ 5a Ont (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 14:47

Here is another jade, pruned exactly same way. You need to leave little 'extra' - that's the piece that will dry & fall off.
Plant knows when it's ready, and you end up with nice, clean & well healed cut.

Rina


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by rina_ 5a Ont (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 14:59

I mentioned little extra you need to leave when pruning.

Using previous photo, on lower left I circled (in black) another pruned branch. I should have pruned it closer, approx. where the red line is. The stub would have dried & fell off right next to the trunk.

BTW, I believe it was Josh (greenman28) who explained this some time ago, so credit goes to him.

Rina

This post was edited by rina_ on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 15:03


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 16:47

I suspected that was true, but wasn't sure. Thanks for the help, Rina.

Al


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by Deva33 5... southeast Iowa (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 19:37

Thanks Al. I was thinking I could just kinda shove a wick up the drain hole for the plants that will wait until early spring for their switch to gritty mix... Do you think that would be beneficial? Or should I just be careful with watering this winter. I really want to go ahead and switch them all but I am exercising patience in the name of the plant. lol.

And thank you Rina. I appreciate your input! Most of mine are really small now. There was just one that I needed to prune a little for shape. Most of my jades are cuttings from a large jade I lost last year to root rot. Although it was beautiful and I miss it, that experience lead me to this forum and I have learned so much in the past 18 months! I found pictures of it recently and it made me sad. Hopefully when they get into the gritty mix they will grow more rapidly! :-)


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RE: pruning protocol

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 11:46

If 'careful with watering' means watering in measured sips to avoid over-saturating the soil, you trade one issue for another. Watering in sips ensures that all the dissolved solids from fertilizers and tapwater remains in the soil. This causes a build-up of salts in the soil, and drastic skewing of the ratio of nutrients in the soil, especially if you're using a fertilizer that doesn't provide nutrients in a ratio very close to that at which the plant uses them.

Let's say you're using the common 5-15-5 houseplant fertilizer. That formulation supplies roughly 13X more P than the plant wants or can use. The excess P raised the EC/TDS (salt level) of the soil unnecessarily, raises pH unnecessarily, and makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb several elements (primarily Fe [iron], but also K, Ca, Cu, Mg and Z). If you can't don't flush the soil, the problem can very quickly devastate the entire planting. Plus, when the plant grows chlorotic (yellow) from lack of several of the nutrients mentioned, but primarily iron, your tendency is to add more fertilizer to 'cure' the chlorosis, which of course only exacerbates the problem.

Here is a thread that will help you deal with water-retentive soils. It takes advantage of a little science to help you minimize the amount of water heavy soils can hold.

About repotting now - if you have the feeling your plants are likely to decline severely over the winter, repot now, or pot up slightly after you tease some of the roots loose if the root ball is very tight. If you don't think they will suffer any more than what's related to low light, I'd wait.

Fast growth isn't necessarily to thing to pray for where your plants are concerned. Focus on good health, and particularly on good root health. If you do that, growth rates and eye appeal will pretty much take care of themselves.


Al


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