A bonsai friend in Pennsylvania sent me some Crabapples, Malus species, earlier this year. I’ve been having a great time with them. The first round of specimens included this one, which I had planned to keep for myself.



This tree has a great trunk – taper, movement, character, and beneath the soil are great radial roots. It’s 2.5″ at the base, and I chopped the taller side at 14″. So it’s destined to be a bonsai that really makes a statement.

When I was first preparing the tree for its nursery container, I was undecided which fork of the trunk to keep. What I ended up doing was keeping some of both. Hey, you can always cut off an unneeded leader down the road, right?


This is what I had in early July.

The tree budded well and produced enough shoots to make for a design. So that’s just what I decided to do with it.


As I was studying the tree in order to decide where the design needed to go, I once again had to consider that shorter thicker fork. Given the shoots that had arisen, taking off that fork would have left me with a real design challenge. But leaving it … now that presented a much more interesting prospect. Why? Well, if you’re familiar with how apple trees grow, they don’t present a typical upright form. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this in the wonderful world of bonsai. But in the case of this tree sitting in front of me, I had the opportunity to make the tree look more like an apple tree than it might otherwise. You can see the result here.


Here we are two weeks later.

In order to encourage backbudding along the shoots I’d wired out, I moved the tree into full sun. You can do this in summer with trees that have a good soil mass; in this case it’s the nursery container. For trees in bonsai pots, full sun in summer can really cook the ceramics and that in turn cooks the fine roots that tend to migrate to the edges of the pot. Death of those roots stresses the bonsai, and if bad enough can even kill it.


Where’s the best front on this tree? I’ve turned it a bit in this shot. Both angles have a lot going for them. Luckily, it’s a decision I don’t have to make right now.

Oh, one more thing about this tree. Notice the first right-hand branch? Well, when this tree first budded out it had zero buds on the right side of the tree. It did have a low back branch, and that enabled me to wire and position it in such a way that I’ve filled in the silhouette very nicely. Bonsai is an illusion, after all.

Look for this tree to be available sometime in the next four or five weeks.


Oh, in case you wondered why I’m not keeping this specimen for myself, here’s why.

Isn’t this an awesome Crabapple?

Let me know what you think about either or both of these trees. I’d love to hear from you.