Starting Bonsai from Seedlings – Sweet Acacia

Often I work with seedlings because good quality stock doesn’t exist for the species I want to grow. Only so much can be done to improve a tree that has little to offer other than a large trunk. More times than I care to admit I’ve made the mistake of trying to totally rework an uninteresting piece of material only to realize the end result is over a decade away and that no one will ever pay enough to make it worthwhile. For the quality of trees I am hoping to produce it’s often easier to just start from scratch.

One such hard to find species which is a total sleeper in the bonsai world is Sweet Acacia. Sweet Acacia works well, bends easily, has some of the smallest leaves of any Acacia, and boasts prolific fragrant yellow blooms. Sweet bro!

I divided the work into two main batches since I’m totally new to this species. One batch I drastically root pruned when they were six months old to see how nice the nebari would turn out and how well they would respond.

Here are a few from the first root pruned batch that pushed over 6″ of growth in the last eight months. On one tree I carefully shaved off 30% of the trunk and on another a 2mm wide spiral was cut into the cambial layer. The best case scenario is that by disturbing the live vein the trees will form a really unusual and hopefully interesting trunk.

The end result.

Here are some trees from the second batch when they were first wired last year. I defoliated before wiring to remove the thorns and make wiring easier.

As they are now.

You can already see the difference in trunk size. This is why good roots and trunks cost money, there’s no shortcut to quality. In the same time frame it will take me to grow these to refinement I could grow these to 10′ tall at a fraction of the cost, labor, and skill level required. But we’ll save bonsai economics for a future post.

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