All of the growth of the shoots you see here came from a bare trunk. Some of them are two feet long. Knowing hornbeam the way I know the species, there’s strength below the surface.
You may be wondering if it’s wise to be potting this tree in late June. To be sure, we’ve had unseasonably hot weather this month. But the thing is, American hornbeam never stops growing during the growing season. This may seem odd, especially since hornbeam is an understory tree. But I grow mine in full sun, and they don’t seem to mind.
After cutting off the trunk stub, I began working in the bottom of the tree. This one had a very good set of shoots in just the right places. I really love it when a tree designs itself.
More wiring and positioning of branches. It’s starting to look like something now.
Now all of the branches are wired and trimmed to the proper silhouette. I’ve selected the new leader and wired it into position. Very nice little tree!
As I expected, the tree had gobs of roots. Like most collected deciduous trees, you typically only get the major supporting roots when you lift them from the wild. There just aren’t any fibrous roots near the trunk. But again, hornbeam doesn’t care. It sprouts roots from the cut ends of the supporting roots very reliably, and they grow like mad all through the season. In this photo you can see some of the big fat white ends of the growing root tips. This is with temperatures in the 90’s, mind you.
Finally, the tree is potted into this nice Paul Katich oval. I think it’s a good match. The trunk base is 1.5″, and the height to the tip of the new leader is 10.5″. I’ll start getting good ramification next year. In about three years this will be a showable bonsai.
This tree is available for sale at our Hornbeam Bonsai page.