I collected this Live oak stump (Quercus virginiana) from a bonsai friend’s property last year. It took a while to bud out, and when it did there was growth on only one side. To make things even more interesting, once the new main shoot had extended five or six inches a bird apparently tried to land on it. I say that because one evening I was checking on it and the nice new shoot was about halfway snapped and the leaves wilted. At that point I figured the tree was lost. But I went into benign neglect mode, ignored the tree, and wouldn’t you know the thing pulled through and grew very nicely.

It’s not too hard to see the challenge presented by this specimen. If the main shoot was growing more or less straight upward off the stump, you simply chop the stump and let that shoot run. Over time, with grow and chop, you make the whole rest of the tree above the stump. But what about this one?

This is the time when you pull out the sketch pad, and that’s just what I did. If you use your imagination when viewing my sketch, you can see how a straight shoot coming out of the side of a live oak stump can be trained upward and, over time, make a realistic trunk and then a complete tree.



The first step was to saw off the excess stump, which was dead anyway. I made a slightly angled cut, which will in time be “chewed” down to the appropriate point to allow me to make the uro shown in the sketch.















Next I applied some wire and moved the leader into the proper position. This leader will be allowed to grow freely this year, in order to continue the thickening process. Notice that I also left a shoot near the base of the leader, which will also be allowed to grow out in order to speed up the process of thickening the base of the leader.

It may remain a little hard to see how this tree is going to end up like the one in the sketch, but if you try a bit I think you can begin to get an idea of where it’s going.