Black cherry, Prunus serotina, is very common where I live and probably where you live too. They’re lovely trees, too, with dark plated bark and glossy green leaves. The fruit is edible though tart and not very palatable. The wood of larger specimens is prized, and when you burn it for firewood you get a nice aroma in the house. But no Black cherry bonsai …. You’d think that the species would be commonly grown as bonsai, by those of us who love native species. The problem is, collecting decent size specimens just doesn’t work out. Why? They tend to suffer dieback with no warning, and are easily infected by fungi. So I gave up trying to collect them years ago. And then, three years ago, I spotted this seedling in the yard. It made me wonder if a bonsai could be grown from the ground up. Here’s where I am so far. The base is only a half-inch in diameter, but you can’t argue with the lush foliage I got this year. Next year I’ll either let it keep on growing, or cut it back and see if it recovers and continues to grow well. Stay tuned.
Can you root a 1″ Sycamore cutting? It looks like the answer may just be yes. I have a relatively young specimen I’m allowing to grow for shade, and last month I decided to remove a low branch I was tired of dodging when I mowed past. The thought struck me, what have I got to lose if I dust this thing, stick it in a pot and put it off in the shade? It took about six weeks, but I was able to find some roots near the base. So I carefully covered them back up and resumed ignoring it. And then it kept on pushing foliage. We’ll see if it makes the winter.
Can you miniaturize an Iris? I have a large hole in the yard that’s been thoroughly colonized by Louisiana irises over the past 20 years. They produce lovely purple blooms each spring. I got this crackle glaze pot from Lary Howard earlier this year, and it seemed like the perfect place to try the experiment. The taller blades you see are a good bit smaller than those in nature, less than half the height. But check out the small little tuft off to the left. It’s coming off a small rhizome that branched off the main one. So this seems promising to me. I can’t imagine the thing will bloom, and even if it does the flowers won’t be small (unfortunately). But I’m still excited about the plant.
Here’s why I’m hopeful about the Iris. This is native horsetail (scouring rush) – it is not a dwarf variety! I put a few canes in this 2.5″ Chuck Iker pot a few years ago. As each year came and went, the canes got smaller and smaller. Now some measure only 1 mm in diameter. The regular size for horsetail in nature is about 1/2 inch.
And the final question of the day. Can I lift a ready-made Chinese elm forest in July and grow enough roots on it by October to allow me to slip-pot it successfully? I’ll know the answer next spring, but I’m betting it’s yes.