When we last left the story of this yaupon bonsai in the making, its first growing season was coming to a close. In the photo below it’s easy to see where the trunk was chopped. I grew a new leader from just a trunk bud, wiring it to induce movement (yaupon likes to grow everything arrow-straight).

Yaupon11-30-14-3I also left a sacrifice branch shooting off to the left, because it was essential to thicken the new leader emerging from the chop so as to make the tapering transition look right.









Fast forward to today. The spring flush of growth has been tremendous. This didn’t especially surprise me, since most trees recovering from collection tend to grow strongest in year two. In this case, considering what I was trying to accomplish starting last year, it was just what I needed.







Here’s the payoff. Notice how quickly the base of my new leader has thickened. It’s gained about 50% since the November shot above. And thanks to the technique I’ve used in carving the chop, angling it into the branch emerging on its right side, this already makes for a believable transition. What does this mean? I can go ahead and remove that sacrifice branch.

By the way, notice the new shoot at the very tip of the leader I wired into position last year. This is exactly the continuation into my new apex I was hoping for. I’ll wire this shoot in the next week or two, in order to ensure it has some movement in it before it gets too stiff to work with. I can then pinch and prune it as part of the process of finishing the crown.

Yaupon4-26-15-3The next step was to do some trimming in the lower branches. Downward pointing branches, most upward pointing branches, older primary leaves where the sub-branching emerged. If you look closely, you can see the tree emerging. Now it was time for a bonsai pot. But what did the roots look like? Time to find out.






Here we are, roots teased out and mostly washed off. I was very pleased with what I got in just a year’s time. As I may have mentioned before, I haven’t worked on yaupon in the past due to the simple fact that in the wild they almost never grow with any natural taper to the trunk. So this is all a learning experience for me. Now I know I can get good fibrous roots in just a year.







Finally, the tree is potted in one of my vintage Richard Robertson pieces. As I was cleaning the pot I noticed the signature and date – ’89. So this pot has been with me for about 25 years now. I think it’s found a nice complement to its style and color. What do you think?

Incidentally, this yaupon is a female. It bloomed like crazy this spring. The flowers are tiny, pale white and inconspicuous. Yaupon berries are bright red and make a nice winter show. It remains to be seen if this one is going to set any fruit this year. Most of the flowers were actually on the sacrifice branch, but there were a few on the lower branches.