I dug this tree at D&E Trees in December 2018:

I chose this one because it had a little flare at the base, some trunk wiggle all the way up, and branches which emerged from all sides of the tree.

Back in Bama…

With the roots exposed, I started to remove the furry ones high on the trunk to see what we were working with. Fortunately, it did have an area of good roots that was relatively radial, which established the new soil line.

Then, it was time to remove everything growing straight down under the base. Removing these will encourage lateral root growth, and a swelling of the base.

Then, removing the heavy roots that were long, and keeping the fine roots that were close in, the feeder roots could be contained in a pot. And, a tree is never stronger than when it is freshly dug, so this is the best time to do aggressive root work on a collected d-tree.

Finally, the tree was settled into an oversized pot, anchored securely, and filled with soil.

The soil used is lava, akadama, and kanuma, 2:2:1. Stewartia appreciates an acidic soil, and plenty of moisture. Kanuma is acidic, and lava rock is retentive. As with most field-grown trees, the roots are going to take some time to get arranged into an orderly, pleasing shape. This purchase was all about the breed and the trunk.

Watered in, and ready for the growing season, where it will be allowed to acclimate to pot culture for a while before too much work is done.

When the tree showed signs of life in late March, I was able to cut it back.

I am evaluating the trunk for a good place to reduce it further. I’d like this to be a tall, slender tree, finishing out around 30″ tall.

Early April:

By late May, the tree was growing so strongly I decided to reduce the trunk one more time, in hopes of letting it heal a bit during the growing season.

Looking back at the bare shots, there were two places to cut. The red line, using more of the trunk, and the yellow line, which eliminates the long, straight section between it and the red line.

From the growth rate of the tree, I decided to go with the yellow line, to give myself a little room to develop more taper in that area, and still finish out the tree on the tall side. Memorial Day weekend, 2019, before:


The cut was made toward the back, and sealed immediately:

Further trimming back to encourage more growth left the tree looking a bit rough for the moment:

The trunk was then scrubbed with a toothbrush. The base should eventually shed it’s bark and start to blend in with the previously-exposed trunk above.

Around the 4th of July, more pruning of heavy branches was done, to ensure the new leader I wanted to grow was the highest point on the tree. It looks a bit skeletal now, but when leafless, it will look better with some of the heavy branches drastically shortened and replaced with finer ones. since the tree has been growing so strongly, I wanted to take advantage of the rest of the growing season to get another course of branches growing. I am also contemplating moving the front just a touch to the right.

Finally, using the back of a knife, I scraped off some of the hard old dark bark to aid in the smoothing out the transition from the former soil level.

The roots aren’t perfect, but over the next few repottings, they should improve as well.

In mid-August, the leader is growing just as hoped.

No fall color this year, as an early deep freeze zapped most of the trees.


And now we can prune and wire. I decided to change the front to show the best trunk line, which still showed a good base. This will require removing some heavy branches, and work with finer branches. This is how good deciduous bonsai are developed.

Starting here in December:

And wired out:

Not bad for 13 months out of the ground!

4 thoughts on “Stewartia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s