Tag Archives: Oak


I’ve wanted to document what I’ve done as far as propagation for a long time. I haven’t seen anything that is very in depth about propagation with specifics. Here is the first of many about different plants and scenarios that should help to narrow down any misconceptions about plant propagation that might be out there.

Before I talk about the successes and failures I want to describe the propagation medium, situation, and frequency of watering.

*AHS Recommendations refers to this book by The American Horticultural Society on plant propagation.

Propagation Box

Propagation Intermittent Misting System

Plant Propagation Box

Dimensions: 2′ x 10′ x 8″

Medium: 100% Silica Sand – Lowe’s 100lb bag

Watering System: Misting system x 2 – Orbit’s Misting System

Watering Frequency: Misting for 3 minutes every hour – Raindrip Timer

Location: 100% Indirect sunlight next to the garage (Helps retain heat)

Weather: Average Monthly Weather (Also windy daily which would enter through the small openings since the box was not airtight)

Zone: USDA 8 / 9 and Sunset Zone 9 – 11 (technically 10) | We seem to be a bit above and below of the zone due to weird extremes within our zone.

Cutting Preparation: Very rarely did I use rooting hormone, large hardwood cuttings were cleaned around the edges on the bottom with box knife, no intentional “scoring” of the bottom of woody cuttings, and no anti-phytophthora dipping substances.

Lizard/Animal Tank Box

Dimensions: Unimportant, but I saran wrapped the window screen top to keep it more airtight.

Medium: Pumice and Silica Sand mix. About 80% sand to 20% pumice.

Watering System: Spray bottle

Watering Frequency: Anywhere from 2 times a day to 1 time every 2 days.

Location: 90% Indirect sunlight with the 10% being morning sun.

Weather: Average Monthly Weather (Wind not nearly a factor as it is almost airtight)

Zone: USDA 8 / 9 and Sunset Zone 9 – 11 (technically 10) | We seem to be a bit above and below of the zone due to weird extremes within our zone.

Cutting Preparation: Very rarely did I use rooting hormone, large hardwood cuttings were cleaned around the edges on the bottom with box knife, no intentional “scoring” of the bottom of woody cuttings, and no anti-phytophthora dipping substances.

Successful Species

Crepe Myrtle – Lagerstromia sp.

AHS Recommendations – SW cuttings in Summer, Difficulty: 2

These would root from softwood cuttings, semi-hardwood cuttings, and hardwood cuttings. All were taken between late Spring and late Summer. One set of hardwood cuttings were taken mid Summer and left on the ground for a day, then I came collected, cleaned the edge of the bottom of the large cuttings with a box knife to clean the cambium layer for easier rooting. With softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings I’d say I had about 70% success rate. Some of their leaves wilted and rotted. Large hardwood cuttings has been near 100% so far.

Waxleaf Privet – Ligustrum Japonicum

AHS Recommendations – SW/SH from early to midsummer, Difficulty: 1. HW from late autumn to midwinter, Difficulty: 1

These root fairly easily without too much work. You can take SW, SH, and HW cuttings. Hardwood cuttings took extremely well under the constant wet conditions. With SW cuttings I had a lower success rate around like 60% – 80%.

Boxwood – Buxus sp.

AHS Recommendations – SW/SH early summer to late autumn, Difficulty: 1

The SW cuttings will root with an almost 100% success rate. I haven’t taken any hardwood cuttings, but heard that they root just as well.

Green Japanese Maple – Acer Palmatum

AHS Recommendations – SW early summer, Difficulty: 2

These had a low success rate. I would say about 40% with the SW cuttings that I took. They also didn’t transplant well due to being in an almost out of zone area here. I had a few larger hardwood cuttings that I took in Summer that rooted, but I wasn’t able to keep them once I got them out (personal flaws and care taking problems).

Barberry – Berberis (Specifically Crimson Pygmy)

AHS Recommendations – SH midsummer and HW in winter, Difficulty: 2

I took only a few SW cuttings of this and they all rooted wonderfully. 100% success rate and it lived in the box for a few months.

Star Jasmine – Trachelospermum jasminoides

AHS Recommendations – SW/SH cuttings in Summer/Autumn, Difficulty: 1

I took a few cuttings and the only ones that didn’t survive were due to the mist nozzle plugging that resulted in no water being delivered to that area.

Burning Bush – Euonymus Japonicus

AHS Recommendations – SW/SH/HW cuttings from Spring to Fall, Difficulty: 1

These did great and rooted super easy with a high success rate. They also transplanted well and survived a few knockdowns from the dog, and emergency repots midsummer from the same thing.

Fruitless Mulberry – Morus sp.

AHS Recommendations – HW cuttings late Autumn, Difficulty: 2

I had around a 70% success rate with rooting SW cuttings of Fruitless Mulberry. I also took cuttings from the root graft of a fruitless mulberry and they rooted fine as well as a SW cutting. I also was able to take HW cuttings while leaving on the leaves. It rooted, produced new growth, and was transplanted into soil with indirect light outside of the propagation box. This all happened midsummer.

Pomegranate – Punica Granatum

AHS Recommendations – Not found

The pomegranate cuttings didn’t do well under such wet conditions, but they did great and thrived in the aquarium tank box. They rooted really quickly and grew faster than any others to date.

Chinese Elm – Ulmus Parviflora

AHS Recommendations – SW/SH cuttings midsummer, Difficulty: 2

These were really hit and miss, and the AHS section mentions that they need to make good growth to survive the winter. Suggests to keep them frost free and to pot them up before Spring commences. These did well in both the tank and the propagation box.

Rosemary – Rosmarinus

AHS Recommendations – SH/HW cuttings and seeds in spring, Difficulty: 1

I took softwood cuttings which isn’t recommended at all, but they did awesome and thrived in the propagation box. They haven’t transplanted very well once I moved them outside without major protection.

Gingko – Gingko Biloba

AHS Recommendations – SW cuttings, Difficulty: 3

These SW cuttings rooted 100% of the time. They need good protection when transplanting. Several of mine dried out from the wind even with nearly 90% indirect sun.

These are the species that worked for me. In the next post I’ll talk more about the failures and what I learned from them.

Things I've Killed

One things I’ve always thought to be a bit unfair is seeing everyone’s successes and not their failures. Failure (AKA the journey to success) is just as important as the end result. Without further ado, the dead trees!

I dug both of these Live Oaks up in the late Spring and I definitely didn’t do it right. Didn’t wait for rain in the previous month, the rootball fell apart when I dug it up, and I barely got any fine roots. Too bad, they had some good trunks on them.

These Olive cuttings that I took off my own tree didn’t go anywhere. I’m not sure if I kept too many leaves, took it at the wrong time (Spring), should’ve stripped the leaves, or kept it too wet, but nonetheless they didn’t root.

I dug up 4 large Pyracantha bushes in late Spring/early Summer and two made it and two didn’t. I also got a few small rooted shoots and I killed 2 of the 3.

This guy below me is dead as well.

This Cotoneaster as well as 3 more all died. These poor fellas.

Barberry is dead. I got a rooted cutting off of it that I still have, so the legacy lives on.

This one got almost no water over my vacation and rather than trying the scratch test and watering it, I threw it away in my rage. The one I didn’t throw away came back……so whoops.

Another dead Cotoneaster.

This Azalea that was heat tolerant came back twice, but apparently twice was the charm.

Besides my 3 failed air-layers (stupid dog…) on my Japanese Maple, I did this one that stayed on but ended up bridging the gap between the cuts and I took it off and ret severed the connection. Hopefully with a large pot and Akadama it will take.

The totals so far this year are the following:
Cotoneasters – 5

Pyracantha – 4

Chinese Elm – 2

Azalea – 3

Barberry – 1

Olive – 3

Oak – 2

Juniper Yamadori – 2

Nana Junipers – 2

Total Kill Count – 19

Green thumbs come with black thumbs. Don’t get discouraged, just keep your head up and keep killing!

Orange County Bonsai Society Show

I was able to head down to the OCBS event and had a great time. We had David Nguy visit and do a demo on a juniper. I won a Ginkgo forest and 2 pots in the raffle, and met a few wonderful people.

David Nguy’s tree that was on display:

California Juniper Bonsai Display Deadwood

The Displays: I do my best to get tree species and names of the owners of the trees to give credit where due. I missed a few tree species and a few names.

Japanese Black Pine Bonsai Display

Japanese Black Pine – June Nguy

Two shohin displays and individual shohin trees by Peter Macasieb:

Blue Atlas Cedar Bonsai

Blue Atlas Cedar

Shohin Bonsai Display

Shohin Bonsai Display

Shohin Bonsai Display

I always want to see more of shohin trees so I made sure to take close ups. Here is a slideshow of them if you’re interested.

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Willow Leaf Ficus Bonsai

Willow Leaf Ficus

Cork Bark Portulacaria Afra

Cork Bark Portulacaria Afra – Gary Lai

Boxwood Shohin

Boxwood Shohin – Joyce Gibbs

Ficus Burtt-Davyi "Nana"

Ficus Burtt-Davyi “Nana” – Gary Lai

Olive Bonsai

Olive – Allan Sugimura

Shohin Bonsai Display

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Shohin Display – Joyce Gibbs

Shimpaku Juniper Bonsai

Shimpaku Juniper

California Juniper

California Juniper – David Nguy

Juniperus Chinensis "Tortulosa"

Juniperus Chinensis “Tortulosa” – Jummy Takeda In Memoriam

Bougainvillea Bonsai

Bougainvillea – Nicole Mashburn

California Juniper Yamadori

California Juniper – Tom Vuong

Ficus Burtt-Davyi "Nana" Bonsai

Ficus Burtt-Davyi “Nana” – Gary Lai

Japanese Boxwood Bonsai

Japanese Boxwood – Gary Lai

Star Lavender Bonsai

Star Lavender – Ken Schlothan

Chinese Elm Bonsai

Chinese Elm – Ken Schlothan

Cork Bark Portulacaria Afra Bonsai

Cork Bark Portulacaria Afra – Bill Vega

Japanese Black Pine Bonsai

Japanese Black Pine – Carly Mashburn

Oak Bonsai Tree

Oak – Ken Schlothan

Bougainvillea Bonsai

Bougainvillea – Nicole Mashburn

Shimpaku Juniper – Michael Walsh

Japanese Boxwood – Michael Walsh

Additional views on some of the trees:

I love the dead portions of the trunk on this olive.

This boxwood was essentially topped and then branched out to form a broom which turned out quite nicely!

This boxwood had the best negative space out of all of the trees I saw at this show.

Fantastic separation of the foliage pads.

Blue Atlas Cedar from the angle I think it should’ve been displayed at.

I’d like to openly state that there were no awards at this show. I took the liberty of adding my own opinions and awards as I saw fit.

1st Place: Japanese Boxwood by Gary Lai

Japanese Boxwood Bonsai Display

  • Great negative space between foliage pads

  • Solid twin trunk styling

  • Consistent feminine design throughout

  • Solid bottom branch that defines length and carries out the triangular shape

Japanese Boxwood Bonsai Tree

2nd Place: Japanese Black Pine by June Nguy

  • Fantastic trunk movement

  • Small pot in comparison to tree which is important in Bunjin stylistically

  • Stand, pot, and display as a whole is consistently feminine and doesn’t distract from the tree

  • The lowest branch doesn’t seem to sit right at this viewing angle. It either needs to be moved, removed, or have the foliage angled differently. The branch seems to function correctly when viewed from another angle (seen below)

3rd Place: Cork Bark Portulacaria Afra by Gary Lai

  • Overall the display has great consistency in the rough texture of the bark, stand, pot, and the fantastic stone planting.

  • While great nebari are difficult to cultivate on P. Afra species, the trunk shows how the roots have twisted down into the soil and show age.

  • Great taper to the trunk as you move up into the apex. Not easily seen, but branching is also well tapered and distributed.

  • There were plenty of young shoots that should have been pinched off for displaying. Many of them blocked the view of the trunk and crowded the negative space between the foliage pads.

Best Shohin: Ficus Burtt-Davyi “Nana” by Joyce Gibbs

  • Great usage of the curves in the branching and pot

  • Design and artistry become much more difficult with less space and material to work with

  • The pot, stand, branch movement, and planting angle all contribute to the successful display of this tree.

  • Would love to have seen the tree displayed at the angle the picture is taken

  • The top left portion of the tree needs a bit of filling out to complete the asymmetry of the canopy

Best Abnormal Species: Star Lavender by Ken Schlothan

  • Absolutely fantastic trunk displayed well so that the deadwood can be seen as well as the hole in the trunk

  • Mature and well ramified branching

  • Great movement and taper to the trunk and branching

  • I’m not sure what is going on with the lower branch and the few stragglers outside the silhouette.

  • Once this tree flowers I think a different pot choice would suit it better. A glazed colored pot with a round or oval shape would help to be consistent with the feminine nature of this tree.

Personal Favorite: Blue Atlas Cedar by Peter Macasieb

Honorable Mention: Willow Leaf Ficus

I really liked the Willow Leafed Ficus, but I didn’t catch who styled and grew it. This tree didn’t seem to stand out to me as much as the Blue Atlas Cedar did.

This is not a common tree to see as a bonsai. I love the color of the tree’s foliage and the cascade is executed well here. My huge complaint was the angle at which it was displayed. With a little tweak in the wire and a changed angle you could have a great negative space between the pads and be able to see the trunk as well. (see below)

Additional Tree Critique

I gave critique for the trees that won in each category, but had some constructive critique for trees that weren’t winners.

Olive: Remove foliage/branches that it in front of the split trunk to help bring out that major feature of your tree. Once the foliage fills out and it is better ramified this will be an amazing specimen!

Chinese Elm: I was perplexed by this tree for awhile as I viewed it. I’m not sure what it is exactly that made it feel a bit off, but here are a few things you might want to consider: Tree is off balance, not supported by a big enough trunk, too wide of a pot and not shallow enough, the planting angle, topdressing of moss might help give it an aged appearance.

Portulacaria Afra: The trunk has an initial turn, but then goes straight out (This is common with this species if not pruned or wired). Wiring to bring the branches into the correct spot if you choose not to trunk chop.

Japanese Black Pine: The main thing is wiring the foliage at the tips to be able to angle them upward. Having them not angled upward makes it look “unkept” and not styled.

Oak: Just a few straggling branches that stood outside the silhouette that could’ve been removed for display.

Olive: The crossing branch on the left definitely draws my eyes away from the potential bottom line that the branches create.

California Juniper: Obviously the tree could use more foliage, but I wanted to point out the different in moss cultivation. The moss in the pot is enough to pull the eyes away from the tree due to how unruly the moss looks. If you see the photo below you get moss how David Nguy cultivated it and it looks much cleaner.

Bougainvillea: Having a clean exit from the trunk with a main branch that continues as the “leader” off the top of the trunk would help the tree not be so wild.

David Nguy’s Demo

To be fair, I think starting with a triple trunk juniper like this is a tough task. He asked us if we wanted a semi-cascade or an upright style. They went with upright.

The victim

This was the end product from the front.

I am more partial to changing the angle and potentially removing an entire trunk once we learn more about the base and how the trunks interact.

Here are the ginkgo forest and pots I won in the raffle.

Ginkgo Forest Bonsai

Bonsai Pots

I’m glad I was able to go to the show and thoroughly enjoyed it.