Bonsai Tonight

Refining a yaupon holly

Posted in Bonsai Development by Jonas Dupuich on July 3, 2012

I brought my yaupon holly to a recent Bay Island Bonsai workshop for a trim. Even in the cool Northern California weather, I have to thin or trim the branches every two to three months. And now, after several years of this treatment, some of the primary branches are beginning to take shape.

I started by thinning unnecessary shoots and trimming the remaining branches to create an attractive silhouette. As I discovered wayward branches, I added 1.5 or 2mm aluminum wire to hold them in place. After completing about half of the tree, Boon stopped by to take a look. He took out his scissors and began cutting – more than I expected! It turns out I was cutting the tree as if I were preparing it for an exhibit. I left the tree very full with few gaps for light to reach the interior branches. As the nascent primary branches need light to allow the secondary branches to develop, more light was necessary. Although there is a chance I’ll show the tree this winter, it’s too early to leave the tree so full. I can reasonably expect one or two full flushes of growth between now and January and these new branches need room to grow. After adding the last few wires – I only wired about a dozen branches – I set the tree on a stand so I could take a photograph. It was at that point I realized that the tree is still quite full. The silhouette is good and I can expect it to be even better in six months. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Now it’s time for me to think about where exactly the front of the tree will be and which pot will best complement this relatively short holly with a large trunk.

Ilex vomitoria - before cutback and wiring

Yaupon Holly – before cutback and wiring

Front #1

After cutback and wiring – front #1

Front #2

Front #2

The two fronts shown here are similar, and each has its good points. Front #1 has nice taper at the base of the trunk, and front #2 has strong movement to the right. I’ll know more at repotting time when I can clearly see the flare of the trunk as it transitions to the rootbase.

Of course, the thought of repotting makes me wonder what kind of pot will best match the tree. I’ve seen very few holly in exhibits, so I don’t have a great understanding of whether the tree looks best in glazed or unglazed clay, or which shapes might provide the best compliment to the tree. I feel fortunate in that I think a variety of pots could suit it well. Here are some of the pots I may try out this winter.

Scallop-shaped pot

Scalloped pot – a conservative choice

Scallop-shaped pot

Scalloped pot from above

Oval pot

Unglazed oval

Glazed rectangle pot

Glazed rectangle – I think a glazed pot might work for the tree, but I don’t know which will work best

Rounded rectangle pot

Rounded rectangle – a good candidate if the tree fits

Oval pot

Shallow oval – this pot appears a bit wide; I’ll know more at repotting time

In the meantime, I’ll keep watering and feeding the tree and making sure it gets its 90-day tune-ups.

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. tmmason10 said, on July 3, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Very nice looking tree. I think I like the second front because of the stronger movement to the right. It will be interesting what it looks like in a new pot.

  2. Alex V said, on July 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I think I am partial to front #1, as the nebari looks better from that angle, and while it has less movement to the right, it still has some. As for a pot, I think I would be looking for a light colored glazed oval. Something to set off the dark bark. An off white oval maybe.

  3. Scott Roxburgh said, on July 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm


    I like the Rounded rectangle, I think the strength in the thick lip would work well.


Comments are closed.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,483 other followers

%d bloggers like this: