After having seen several nice magnolia bonsai in Japan, both in publication and in person, they’ve become among my favorite species for bonsai cultivation. I was a bit sad to leave behind my previous magnolia project in Japan, but it’s in good hands and will develop into a great tree.
It’s rather difficult to find nice magnolia material stateside other than growing it yourself. The wood is soft and rots easily, while also being susceptible to fungal problems. Massive chops are not a great idea–rather using sacrifice branches in a series of stages to heal a large wound is preferable. If you follow me on Facebook as well as my previous blog post you can see what I’m talking about.
In search of new material, last spring I climbed up my parent’s magnolia tree to set an airlayer on older wood. With help from my parents the layer was periodically “jet hosed” and kept moist in the canopy of the tree. It was a bit slow to root and after having some intense summer heat waves, I opted to leave the layer on for a few more months. Last month the layer was separated with no issue and a healthy set of roots.
With a long characteristic drop branch, thick callousing, and some hollows it has a bit of a wild characteristic to it.
For the upcoming spring, I’ll repot the tree to clean out more of the spagnum moss and to remove some of the wood beneath the layer line. Cut backs won’t happen until after the tree flushes out. If I were to cut back hard during the winter, the remaining buds would have too much energy resulting in vigorous and coarse growth. Allow the tree to allocate energy over a greater surface area, then cutting back will help me produce finer branching and growth.
Producing fine branching and leaf reduction is achievable on magnolia with deliberate fertilizer use, lots of sun, and knowing when to cut back. Avoid over fertilizing, especially with nitrogen heavy ferts in the early spring as growth is emerging. Fertilizing more so after the growth has hardened off will ensure finer more usable branching (in the case of refinement).
A short post, but good to write on the blog again! Excited to develop this magnolia and I think it can become quite nice in the future!