sweetgum fast-track styling

Sneak Peek

I usually only have as much patience with a tree as it will force on me. When they seem to want to develop quickly, I do take advantage.

Sweetgum Fast-Track Styling

I lifted this Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) from my ground-growing area in late April (I was supposed to wait till May, but I figured a week’s head-start wouldn’t hurt). Defoliated, potted, watered. Done.

A month later, and the tree has made it (see those very long and strong shoots – that’s how you tell).

Earlier this month, the tree was begging to be wired. I tested the root strength, found the tree to be very solid meaning I had roots, so on went the wire.

This photo was taken today, which is right at two weeks from the one above. I almost have a tree!

You’ll notice that I went ahead and angle-cut the trunk chop. I was able to nibble it down with my knob cutters. I highly recommend you use that tool if you’re pushing a tree’s styling and you need to do some rough carving. Trunk splitters will sometimes get caught and you have to wiggle them off – bad for roots. Never, ever, try hand- (or power-) sawing the angle-cut as it will do a number on the tender new roots you’ve waited so patiently to form (if you use a power saw, remember the numbers 9, 1, and 1 in that order as you’ll likely do great harm to yourself; there’s a time and a place for power tools, and this is definitely not one of them).


The cut paste is on the angle-cut, after I fine-carved it smooth using hand tools. Is this a better front?

This is probably the best front for the tree, though there are obviously a couple of options.

Next step: grown out that leader, which will happen without any need for encouragement. Sweetgums are apically dominant, so you can get some heft on a branch fairly quickly and definitely thicken up a new leader in no time. I’d predict that by the end of the growing season I’ll have this one ready for a bonsai pot come Spring 2022.

My plan is to post this specimen for sale later in the season ($185 delivered). The base is 2″ across and the original trunk chop was at 16″. If it speaks to you and you have to have it, just shoot me an email and we’ll go from there. First come, first served of course.

Let me know how you like what I’ve done with this Sweetgum. I’m pretty excited at how fast it’s changed from stick to tree.