It was so much fun making a quick Hackberry bonsai last weekend that I did the same thing with a Water oak, Quercus nigra. This tree is a volunteer that has been growing on my property for several years now. I liked the form it took naturally.

If you look closely you can see a nice twin-trunk that has grown on its own that way. Though I could certainly reduce this specimen to a single trunk, I decided to lift it to see what all was there.










Here’s the tree lifted, with the roots washed. There’s too much in the top of this specimen, but it’s a lot easier to see the trunk base. I like what I’m seeing. Remember, selecting deciduous (and some broadleaf evergreen) bonsai material goes along the lines of trunk then rootage. If you’ve got a good trunk – good size, movement, taper, character – you can make good roots and you’ll certainly have to make the crown.

I also have good roots with this one, by the way.

Next came the proportioning. The tree was way too tall and way too “spready” when it came out of the ground. So I simply cut back everything that didn’t look like a bonsai and brought the silhouette inward so the tree made proportional sense.









And here we are, a quick Chuck Iker pot later. Doesn’t the color of the pot go well with the color of the leaves?

You may be wondering, When does this water oak go dormant? Well, water oak often will hold its leaves most of the way through winter. It’s not quite like live oak, which loses its leaves as the new leaves are emerging, but boy does it come close. A neat feature of the species.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. I think I’ll either try to wire the branches, which are too straight, or simply cut them off altogether and start from the new buds I’m sure to get where the branches used to be. What would you do?