(225) 784 - 2168 zach@bonsai-south.com

I enjoy making new bonsai material by taking cuttings from the trees I work with. I also enjoy working with the species Riverflat hawthorn, Crataegus opaca. Unfortunately, those two pleasures seldom happen together.

I have found Riverflat hawthorn cuttings to be extremely difficult to root. Maybe it’s operator error, but maybe it’s just a quirk of the species. Regardless, this photo represents a single specimen I got to take about six or seven years ago. It’s been completely container grown since that time, and this is how it looked back in 2017. That’s a standard small concrete mixing tub which measures about 24″ long by 18″ wide, to give you an idea of scale.

Here’s the tree a couple of days ago, after I pruned off a good bit of the growth. The base of the trunk has thickened some more in the two years since the photo above was taken, and is now right at 1.75″ above the (nice) surface rootage. While I could either leave the tree in this container or plant it out, it’s actually big enough to work with.
A lot more pruning needed doing in order to start simplifying this specimen. It’s not always easy to choose which branches to keep, but in this case it wasn’t all that hard. I had selected a front for the tree years ago, and there was no need to change it.
As you can imagine, the tub had a lot of roots throughout. The easiest way for me to get the tree out so I could really reduce them was to pretend I was collecting it from the ground. So I sawed it out.
I washed off the roots and started cutting. One of the obvious features of the bonsai to be is those surface roots. Now I just need to remove crossing roots and enough root mass to fit the tree into a pot.
This is what I ended up with. The good thing about Riverflat hawthorns is they root very well and vigorously (not the cuttings, but once they have roots they really go gangbusters).
I just got this Chuck Iker round recently, and I think it works very well with this tree. The chop is at 12″. I know that stub at the top looks funny; I left it long to ensure I don’t lose it altogether; I should get buds not only on it but also at the chop point. Once that happens, I’ll prune it back. And I wired out a basic design.You can see in this photo some spots where in the past I pruned off large branches I was using to make the tree get bigger. Though you can’t see it in this shot, they’re already mostly healed. As time goes on, they should add to the character of this bonsai to be.So that’s my tale of a Riverflat hawthorn cutting. Let me know what you think.