Tag Archives: Pomegranate

Pomegranate Bonsai

Pomegranate Plans

If you refer to my Pomegranate Splitting post you’ll see where this little guy came from. Initially I planned to do a twin trunk style with the two main trunks you see.
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As I’ve spent time watering and caring for it I’ve noticed an opportunity to add an artistic aspect to it.
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In this photo above you notice the not-so-great-for-bonsai base it has, combined with the charred look of the bark. I’m not sure what the previous owner of this entire pomegranate was doing to it, but nonetheless.
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This base became significant to me as I noticed that a piece of completely charred deadwood was creating a wedge between the two main trunks and affects every single trunk coming from the base. I was able to identify with this images. It reminds me of the effects of my struggles with addiction and how they affect my family. It creates separation within the family and scars everyone in their own way. This could also be synonymous with divorce, mental illness, or other forms of addiction or abuse.
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As you can see in the previous photos, how this traumatic event affects each person is different. Some almost completely fail, or cease to grow, and others overcome and continue to develop. The “father” trunk in this case, has it continue on and affect the entire structure of the branching and canopy.

I’m not 100% set on how the rest of the smaller trunks will play out, but this tree has plenty of refinement to go and I’ll study and decide as I go. If you have any techniques or artistic ideas of how to bring this story to life, please do leave a comment!

Design and Critique #7 – Twisted Pomegranate

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Display:

The display of this tree threw me off for a few reasons. The pot is yellow, which doesn’t seem to fit with pomegranate’s leaves, but would go well with the flowers and fruit. It just seemed a bit loud to go with a winter silhouette showing.

The companion plant looks not so alive (can’t tell from the photo if I’m wrong or not) and awkwardly placed. This is in part due to the apex and confusion of flow which I’ll touch on.

The moss is well put together and looks clean. This can be just as much of an art form as the rest of bonsai itself.

Branching and Silhouette:

The silhouette of this tree rubs me the wrong way. Not to say it is wrong, but design-wise from my understanding I think it is because there isn’t a significant amount of asymmetry in the design.

The defining branch doesn’t seem to come from the trunk but from behind the tree which isn’t very natural looking.

Comments:

I gave critical criticism, but this is a phenomenal tree. Pomegranates are one of my favorite deciduous trees and I wish I had gone to this show to see it in person.

I’d love to see this tree with 3 or so pomegranates left on to complement the yellow pot.

This is my favorite pomegranate and possibly the best deciduous tree I’ve seen in person. This is displayed at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA.
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Next Up:

Flowering Plum

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Pomegranate Splitting

This pomegranate is the same one from this post that I dug up right as it was beginning to leaf out. It recovered really well and pushed several flushes of growth with a few being in the Fall. I decided to repot it and take it apart to let it recover in what is planned to be the final resting place.IMG_3334If you remember from the previous post, I flat cut the bottom horizontally with my reciprocating saw. When I removed this from the pot I could not find evidence of the flat cut bottom.
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I decided to proceed in cutting it apart using the same reciprocating saw.
IMG_3340IMG_3338IMG_3339I still had a significant root system on most things that I cut away. I had a few stragglers that fell off during the separation that might make it since they had a few roots connected.

I got to a point where I didn’t feel comfortable separating more of the branches, so I potted up the remaining clump back up in some normal potting soil. I might do some air layering while it recovers for a year or two.

I also got this gem with some good movement in the lower trunk from taking the other twin trunk piece apart. IMG_3342IMG_3343

I got the pot ready by getting the wire set in, bending the bottom to a 90º angle to make it more stable.IMG_3344
Then I put down an “aeration layer” as Ryan Neil refers to it. Before placing the tree in I put another layer of my regular sized bonsai soil and then tied in the tree to the pot.IMG_3345IMG_3346IMG_3347IMG_3348
After all was said and done I ended up with these to grow out this season.
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This is the remaining chunk of trunks that didn’t have enough roots to cut off. I’ll let it grow out another season or two before splitting these again. img_3560
img_3537This is going to be a twin trunk style. I might have to remove the backside during the next repot.img_3543img_3542
These two were lacking in roots, so hopefully they’ll make it. They fell off while splitting the second major trunk.
img_3534img_3533This was the second major trunk that I split from the main clump. I might airlayer it this season and let the branches grow out to get a more solid taper to the higher canopy. I’ll update this post soon once everything leafs out to see how it is doing.

Winter Silhouette – Awards And Critique

As James R. Barrett states in You Be The Judge: “Whether we like it or not, all Bonsai are judged – if not by an official judge, at least by the viewer.” While I am by no means an official judge, I am a viewer. I judge trees to help myself dissect what it is that I appreciate about trees, and to share the same with you.

Video of trees:

There were no awards at this show, but I took the liberty of adding my own opinions and awards as I saw fit.

1st Place: Korean Hornbeam – Lindsay Shiba

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Korean Hornbeam – Lindsay Shiba

  • Asymmetrical shape that shows age
  • Proper placement of companion plant
  • Simple masculine container and a modest stand to keep attention on the tree
  • Fantastic taper all throughout the tree
  • I wasn’t a fan of the lowest defining branch. I’d like it to be a bit higher and incorporated into the foliage pad above it.

 



2nd Place: Cork Bark Elm – Michael Roberts

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Cork Bark Elm – Michael Roberts

  • Amazing ramification
  • Mature rounded silhouette
  • Good shallow wide pot to accompany the large silhouette
  • While this tree seems to be done in a specific style meant for the silhouette, I think the branches go much too low for my taste.


3rd Place: Trident Maple – Kathy Benson

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Trident Maple – Kathy Benson

  • I love the base of this Trident Maple. You tend to get a lot of really fat trunks with massive nebari and “cookie cutter” styles, but this tree has a nice curvature to the base with still having nice nebari and flow to it.
  • The silhouette has a great asymmetrical flow.
  • The pot choice wasn’t my favorite. The tree has a feminine feel to it and the pot doesn’t feel as heavily feminine as I’d like. While it doesn’t add much to the composition during the winter, I assume it goes nicely with the foliage in the fall.

Best Shohin

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  • This Cork Bark Chinese Elm has great taper which is a bit harder to find in shohin sized trees.
  • Good use of the stand to bring the display higher with such a small tree.
  • Great contrast in between the tree, pot, and then the stand.
  • Asymmetry in the design is also a bit more difficult in shohin and was executed nicely here.
  • The branch on the left could be a little longer to effectively be a defining branch.
  • I thought the tree overall was groomed well with great moss growth and preserved bark.


Best Abnormal Species: Flowering Pear

Flowering Pear Bonsai Display

  • This is a fantastic display of design principles and how your tree doesn’t need to be perfect to be great. Using distinct features help to overlook flaws. You might not have noticed these at first glance, but the flaws include: terrible graft, inverse taper, no defined apex, no asymmetrical shape, no defining branch, several places where 3 or more branches emerge, and lack of ramification. While carrying all of those flaws, this tree seemed to be one of the few that drew “oooh’s” and “ah’s” throughout my time there.
  • The color fit together and complement each other fantastically.
  • This is also one of the most feminine square pots I’ve seen, which was a pleasant sight to see.

 


Personal Favorite: Pomegranate – Charlie Washburn

Honorable Mention: Pomegranate img_3124

This had an interesting dynamic between the lower pomegranate and the deadwood on the lower trunk, and the living branch with a hanging pomegranate. I saw this as an artistic communication of the progression of perseverance. The trunk is fantastic, and hopefully I get to see this in a few years after the branching has developed more. Nothing technical or design related stood out to me other than this which is why I went with Charlie Washburn’s Pomegranate over this one.

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Pomegranate – Charlie Washburn

  • Strong base with a twisting trunk
  • Great placement in the pot and well displayed in terms of moss and cleanliness
  • Great asymmetrical balance and overall silhouette
  • Feminine pot choice, trunk, and branching overall
  • There was also a branch that twists around another branch, and I feel like that wasn’t removed as a flaw, but embraced and used to its fullest potential. See photo below.

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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.

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Some pruning on this tree to clear up a bit more negative space would have made this a significantly better tree. Specifically when entering it as a silhouette, the twiginess plays a huge part of this trees display. Eliminating the front branch, any branches that grow down beneath the primary branches lowest point, and additional removal of parts of the apex is where I would start.

The two lowest primary branches look like the mirror each other which also gives a funky feel to the tree.

Fantastic base and trunk as well.

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This tree lacks a defined apex. The highest point on the tree is at the left, while the branches suggests that it would sit best at or near the middle. Further development in that area would compliment the fantastic base and lower branching.

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I assume this tree is meant to be broom style. I’m no expert in brooms, but I feel this tree lacks direction. The two lowest branches give this an awkward feel as bar branches. Typically brooms have a more acute angle of the primary branches. I’m not sure what I’d do with this if it was mine, but I might take a few large branches off and grow it out a bit. Sorry my criticism isn’t all that helpful.

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I would really love if the lower right branch was wired up a bit to better fit the overall silhouette. That is my main gripe about this tree. Also a thicker trunk will come in time, but that would make this a stellar tree.

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This quince had a very poorly displayed surface. The moss was obviously slapped on there at the last minute (or done so poorly previously) and this combined with a pot that has the soil level too high made for a disaster in that aspect.

I understand the difficulty of cultivating moss in the pot as I live in the hot windy desert, but prepping this by removing a bit of topsoil and making sure the underside of the moss you’re placing has a least amount of dirt on it can help. Another thing is doing this early on, then shredding sphagnum moss up to bridge the gaps between the cracks. Then misting the moss as much as possible and keeping it shaded would help in the spreading of the moss to close the gaps. This was winter time, so it drying out and being exposed to too much sun shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

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This was the runner up for best shohin. This tree is so beautifully executed, but it was so often passed right by due to it being too small and displayed so low. This in conjunction with a 5 or 3 point display, or having it on a stand with a companion plant would have made it stand out more.

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The secondary trunk on the right needs to go on this tree. I feel it grows IN towards the main trunk instead of out and complementing it. Using the front branch to grow out into the secondary trunk might work.

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The taper in the lowest branch and the apex seem to match on this tree. The lack of taper relativity makes this tree seem a bit off. Also the lowest branch is a bit low for my liking.

I loved the display, pot choice, color contrast of the bark and display, and branching silhouette.

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I feel that this tree is being grown without wiring through the clip and grow method. If that is the case then it will need a few more seasons and a constant pruning to keep the directions changing and from growing too straight. The main trunk lacks movement that might be difficult to correct.

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Remove the straight sucker-like trunks from the bottom of the tree and this is a great Ginkgo.

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Persian Quince – Steve Valentine

This quince was placed off center of the mat, and I’m not sure why. I feel that it would’ve been better in the middle.

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I’m not sure how I feel about the lower left branch. The wide shallow pot, silhouette, nebari, moss, and apex are all good, but something felt off about the branching. I think it might be the spacing between the first branch and the rest. If you used that semi-rear branch as the first left branch it might be better proportioned.

Hopefully this was insightful and helpful for those that find their tree above.

55th Annual Winter Silhouettes Exhibition

Here are the display photos I took from the exhibition. Enjoy!

Here is a video taken and posted by someone in the club I assume:

Some names and species weren’t displayed when I attended. They were a bit behind in setting up the exhibition, so sorry if I missed your display or information!

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Chinese Elm – Ellen Keneshea

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Korean Hornbeam – Lindsay Shiba

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Persian Quince – Steve Valentine

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Cork Bark Elm – Michael Roberts

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Cork Bark Elm – Tom Vuomo

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Chi Chi Ginkgo – Jim Barrett

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Chinese Elm – Joe Galgoul

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Pomegranate – Charlie Washburn

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Chinese Elm – Carol Upston

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Pomegranate – Charlie Washburn

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Contorted Quince – Tom Lau

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Trident Maple – Kathy Benson

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Chinese Elm – Marge Blasingame

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Flowering Pear – Mr/Mrs Manning

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Pomegranate Forest – John Nielson

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Contorted Quince – Shirley Quan

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Cork Bark Elm – Mel Ikeda

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Crape Myrtle

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Coral Bark Maple – Ed Clark

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Chinese Elm – Dick Ryerson

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Korean Hornbeam – Alex Marien

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Propagation

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.

Cheap Bonsai Supplies

For those of you that have recently begun your bonsai journey you’ll notice that this hobby can become expensive quickly. I put out a post about cheap bonsai pot alternatives and here is another post about alternative things to use.

Cut Paste

https://www.amazon.com/Joshua-Roth-6044-Bonsai-Paste/dp/B000X36W7O – $19.50

https://www.bonsaioutlet.com/bonsai-cut-paste-spcd09/ – $14

Duct Seal Bonsai Cut Paste

Now not all bonsai cut paste is that expensive, Duct Seal was $2.98 at Home Depot

This was recommended to me from Rob Pressler, the owner of Kimura’s Bonsai Nursery.

Now we could get into the argument of whether or not to use cut paste, but rather than that I’ll just suggest that if you want to use it and want to save a few dollars (For another tree, lets be real…) try this out.

Glass and Ceramic Drill Bits:

I bought these to be able to convert glass and ceramic bowls I find into viable bonsai pots. I can drill wire holes and large enough holes to keep drainage sufficient.

Pro Tip: Read how many RPMs it can handle, if not you will burn the drill tip and have a useless stick of metal (also water . Pressure = broken bowls. Let the bit do its thing, however slow it may feel.

Here are some of my latest pickups that were either free or from garage sales (Californians can do this all year, not like you in the Midwest and Northeast that have a garage sale “season”)

Cheap Bonsai Tree Material

Lowe’s and Home Depot can have discount racks depending on where you live. These are great choices since both have return policies incase something dies. Great for beginners working on trees for the first time.

What we call “Yardadori” or collected material from yard renovations or seemingly undesirable trees that people want removed is a great way to source material for bonsai.

The last resort would be cuttings from easy to root plants. I have found that Crape Myrtle, Portulacaria Afra, Chinese Elm, Cotoneaster, Olive, Ficus and Pomegranate can all handle pretty large cuttings that can become bonsai quickly.

Drain Screen

Rather than purchasing pre-made screens for your pots, you can buy “Gutter Guard” and cut it to whatever size you like. My favorite part about this is when I use a nursery pot as a temporary training pot I can cut the gutter guard into a circle to cover the entire bottom of the nursery pot. Same goes for my other DIY homemade pots. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Amerimax-Home-Products-Metal-Black-Lock-in-Gutter-Guard-6360/205207064

These are just a few things that might give you a few more dollars to appease your spouse.