Back in 2011, I started an air layer on a large cryptomeria. Two years later, I removed the layer and the tree was off to a new start as a bonsai (see “Large cryptomeria air layer part 1” and “Part 2” for details).
Since that last post in 2013, I have yet to share an update. Here are a few photos to get you up to speed.
2014 – Two years after separating the air layer
2015 – The new roots are now strong enough to support the tree
Although the tree was strong enough to work on in 2015, I waited another year before pruning.
2016 – Before cutback
2016 – After cutback
I repotted the tree and removed the lower branches the following year.
2017 – after removing the lower branches
As you can see, I’d been developing a new apex by letting the top shoot on the tree grow freely for several years.
Many cryptomeria bonsai with large trunks lack taper on the upper part of the trunk as this last step can take a long time. In this case, the new apex grew for seven years before I started an air layer to remove it.
2019 – The upper section of trunk is ready to be air layered
I successfully removed the air layer earlier this year and the tree is now ready to be styled.
Cryptomeria – September, 2020
Of course, the tree has been ready for styling for the past five years. Because I neglected basic cutback during most of these years, the branches are uneven and it will take many years to develop a basic silhouette.
When I started pruning, I couldn’t get a good sense of where the future outline would be so I made some initial cuts.
After minor cutback
From here I proceeded with the rest of the cutback.
I ended up removing more foliage than I’d planned on so I expect the tree will recover a little slower than it would have if I’d done less cutback.
Not that it was time to wire the primary branches, I began to pay the price of neglecting to bend the branches years before when they were slender and flexible. Most of the branches will need further reductions over time to create branch taper, but the main goal for this styling is to simply arrange the branches radially around the trunk so they all receive adequate light.
After wiring – 30″ tall
Interior shoots are prone to sunburn on cryptomeria, so I moved the tree under shade cloth where it will stay until the weather begins to cool.
I’m also misting the tree whenever I pass by with the hose as cryptomeria appreciate humidity and frequent overhead watering can help keep the foliage healthy.
Considering the scope of the work done on the tree, I plan to let it grow freely for another year before jumping into the branch refinement. Will provide more updates when that time comes!
Last chance to submit questions about water and fertilizer for the Bonsai Wire podcast
We’ll be accepting your questions related to watering, fertilizing, and water quality through September 30. If you’d like to hear from Michael, John, Andrew, or me, send your questions to talk at bonsaiwirepodcast dot com.
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