I few years back I read about using a CD to ground layer a tree. The method called for taking a CD, Britney Spears CD’s work best, slipping the center hole over the trunk of the tree snaking it down to the base of the roots. The CD actually needed to be a few inches below the surface. Then the hope was that once the trees trunk diameter got big enough the CD plastic would cut off the circulation of the cambium to the roots and force sugar to concentrate in the trunk area right above the CD. This would then cause roots to develop and hopefully radially emanate while the tap root and the associated roots would choke off.
I slipped a number of CD’s over my trees with many of the CD’s cracking from the force of the trunk expansion. One tree that did show some nice results was a Prunus mume with white flowers:
As one can see there are some thick roots that have developed, somewhat radially,above the CD as I was hoping. This tree is maybe 4-5 years old and has really taken off like a shot in my bonsai garden.
The CD is cracked but this is a recent thing since the last time, a few months ago, I dug down to the CD with my fingers the CD was intact.
So, then I broke off the CD plastic from the trunk, which wasn’t too hard, and then sawed off the part of the trunk below the CD. I was actually surprised to find that the trunk section below the CD still seemed alive or atleast not rotted.
After this was done I simply trimmed up the roots a little and placed the tree in the heel in trench.
My bonsai grow-out garden is composed of a 10′ x 10′ raised bed, which I have initially added compost to at about a depth of 6″. Most trees seem to be thriving in it but some plants have grown poorly such as my Korean Hornbeam and Chinese Quince (although they have been picking up). The Chinese Quince were showing signs of chlorosis, which went away when I sprinkled some Ironite around their bases. The Korean Hornbeam has just seemed to be in a state of confusion with it not even fully leafing out this year although it is fully alive.
For this reason and the fact that I want to make the raised bed deeper I decided today was a good day to pull out all trees from the garden, check their roots, root prune etc., and amend the garden soil. The soil is fairly fertile and loose but there is still a good percentage of the soil that is my local soil. The soil we have here, atleast in Central Texas, is made up of clay and limestone. The limestone is very plentiful and I have some strong handled picks that come out whenever I have to dig more than 1″ deep, pretty sad and annoying!
I dug a heeling in trench and used pea gravel to temporarily cover the trees until tomorrow or a few more days until I have the garden amended:
You may be wondering why am I doing this when there are still some leaves on the trees? Well, winters here seem quite variable. They can be mild or nasty but usually very quick. Most of the leaves on the trees have dropped and I can tell they are mainly in their dormant winter state. I mainly want to do this before the roots really start to get growing as they do very early spring to look for resources to feed the next flush of leaves.
All of the following trees were purchased from ForestFarm at Pacifica and are doing EXTREMELY well. I think these trees like Texas and I’m surprised I haven’t seen these for sale in the local nurseries.
Prunus mume “Matsubara Red”
I’ve had difficulty finding the right sized bark chips until I came across the Texas-based Landscapers Pride brand. This is the “Soil Conditioner” and once sieved I get some perfectly sized bark chips for the organic component of bonsai soil mix. So far I’ve been using mostly Turface MVP, which is awesome but I think adding some organic bark to the mix may help water retention and aeration. I find I often have to water twice a day in the middle of summer since it is so hot and the Turface can dry out quick in my conditions.
I have three aged crape myrtles that I have been growing out in these home-made planters made from salvaged woods pallets. Never mind the prickly pear pads on the first one, they grow like weeds.
The first one came to me looking like this:
And now looks like this since I want a little more height on the tree. I have a lead branch visible at the top, which is what I’m hoping to grow thicker and produce height and taper:
The second and third crape myrtles in the planters used to be joined and I found it at a nursery in Lakeway. The nurseryman told me it was collected from someones property and so explains the reason for its accumulated age:
Unfortunately this last summer was the summer of bugs and aphids and the bare spots that can be seen on the trunks were caused by Flathead Borers.