So in today’s post I’m gonna tell you this ugly guy’s story. Duranta are not the most popular trees to bonsai and are difficult to work with since once the branches set they are stiff.
However, once they reach higher levels of refinement, they are very captivating.
*Note, they have thorns, so I suggest snipping them off before any work is done unless you are a rebel!
We got this “bush” actually as a landscape plant in the front of our house in August 2016. This was never intended to be a bonsai, and still don’t know if that is the goal just yet.
Here is i a picture of the bush when it was planted out front originally:
As you can see it is only growing to one side. It was purchased this way intentionally due to the house wall. I figured less work, it’s already shaped, just drop it in!
It did well but over the last year it has been through a crazy ride. Hurricane, MASSIVE white fly infestation, bad case of sooty mold obviously, scale, being eaten by ducks and also being beaten on by the Florida sun for 8 hours a day in this location.
Here is a photo of it mid-way through this time of abuse:
I decided one day in February of this year I decided to dig it out and put it in a pot. It had suffered enough. At this point I still wasn’t thinking bonsai for it, just that I want to make it’s life easier.
So out it came! I don’t have pictures of the repot (sorry), however it wilted very hard after repotting. I didn’t take off too many roots as it was already stressed from the conditions I mentioned earlier. But, I thought it was surely going to croak. I didn’t give up on it though and was patient.
After 3 days of looking like it was done, it bounced back! I kept it on the front covered patio, which is full shade, for 2 weeks.
After that it went to partial shade and got a good pruning:
It is by no means the nicest example to be working with. I first removed all the dead, broken, and overly moldy/scaly branches, shortened it a tad and left just a few leaves. I still had no idea yet where to go with it or which trunk or branches to keep from here, but I started getting some ideas.
Here it is (at a different angle) about a month after the last photo:
Still not pretty, but better. So far only cutting and growing and it has some movement. Not all good movement but this one will take a while to develop. I still kept all these branches because I don’t know which I will keep for the future just yet.
I’m not trying to change the world with this tree. It’s purpose is to keep me busy. It’s a tree to work on while waiting for the good ones to develop. More bonsai’s suffer from over-care and pruning than not enough care/pruning.
I suggest you also get yourself some cheap trees to chop at. There is no shame with these so go all out.
Anyway, at the beginning of this month, April a little more work was done. It was starting to bud back nicely and was pest free. So it got just a little wire.
I didn’t need to wire all the way down the trunk and could have started in the branch fork. I was just using a new copper wire that I hadn’t used before and felt like…well seeing how I liked it.
The wiring is a little sloppy as I had my daughter screaming for me while trying to get this done, but it serves it’s purpose. I wired and positioned the branches in less than 5 minutes.
I have let it grow and only thinned the leaves out where it got too thick. It is growing fast and it hasn’t even been a month before I cut a few more branches shorter to bring it down, and had to take off about half the leaves.
Fast forward just a few weeks and a few more branches were ready to wire. It’s best to wire them right before they bark up as they do get very stiff afterward.
So here is a picture of it today after a little more wiring:
As time passes I think I may be able to get a bonsai-able tree out of this. I see a few nice lines. It’s also starting to lend it’s self to a few different styles. The double trunk has to go, just haven’t figured out which to keep yet. What do you see? Right now I see ugliness, but in the future there could be a good tree….