Today I lifted this Huckleberry, Vaccinium species. Check out that fantastic rootage and trunk base! There’s no doubt this specimen can be made into a fine bonsai over the next several years.

But there’s something wrong with this picture. Can you guess what it is? Or better still, can you see what it is?

The left-hand trunk here is obviously too long. One of the common mistakes just about every collector makes (I’ve been guilty, too!) is to leave their trunk too long. Sometimes it’s because you like the way the trunk moves higher up in the tree. Sometimes you misjudge the final height of your bonsai when you first lift a tree. It’s not always easy to gauge the trunk base to height ratio, or the plan way in advance for the finished height of the tree. All of these are possibilities.

In the case of this specimen, both trunks are too long. The left trunk is just way out there. But the right trunk has its own issue, namely that it stops tapering long before the chop point.


Here’s the solution. Now, you may have had a “Wow!” reaction, and that’s okay. The fact is, this tree stopped making sense as a potential bonsai long before either of those trunks reached the initial chop point. The extra length wasn’t going to make the radial rootage any less nice, but you can overcome good features in your trees by hanging onto bad features for the wrong reasons. It made no sense to keep those trunks excessively long.

I see a natural Huckleberry shape in this specimen. It’s going to bud along the length of each trunk in spring, and this includes near the chop point on each. I will use some of those buds to make a broom-form shape, which is the natural form for the species. I think it’ll be outstanding.

Finally, the tree is snugged into its nursery container, to ensure the roots are kept moist. It takes some foresight to see the potential bonsai here, but as the tree buds out and recovers followed by the initial styling it should become obvious how it’s going to turn out.

Let me know what you think of this specimen.