Cactus and Succulents forum→Kalanchoe Bonsai

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South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
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dewayx
Oct 16, 2021 12:25 PM CST
Thumb of 2021-10-16/dewayx/82a184 Kalanchoe Bonsai Experiment Specimen 1, Fukinagashi style (windswept, as if the wind bent it into leaning one way)

I challenged myself to letting Kalanchoes (Mother of Thousands) grow in a miniature way, similar to bonsai. This one is 3 years old now and in my estimation needs further 4 to 5 years to be in its final shape and in about two months I'll select the primary branches (probably 3 to 5 branches).
With Fukinagashi at Kalanchoes you have little to no work with wiring or bending them as the angled sunlight on a window does the job perfectly fine. Only one direction is needed after all, at least for the trunk and primary branches.
It's the Kalanchoe bonsai that i tinkered on for the longest now, seven more are in different stages of completion: (in ascending order)

Freestyle whirly thingamabob: Currently in the planning phase, seeded out already to start growing straight upwards, shouldn't need all too many fallen decisions for growing upright. I want to create a look as if branches whirl around a single trunk. Thinking about either 2, 3, 5 or 6 branches (number 4 being the bad-bad number, you're into bonsai culture you know why). If 2 or 6 then 1 or 3 nodes with two branches each, if 2, 3 or 5 then one branch per node, pointing in alternating directions. 5 or 6 will be pretty hard to maintain, but could leave some room for error in case dieback occurs.
Bunjingi (Also called Literati, high, bent and slender trunk with a small and unhealthy looking canopy): Seeded out a week ago
Ishisuki (Growing in a Rock): Seeded out a month ago, first roots well established
Moyogi (Informal upright, going zig zag): first trunk segment completed, cut back a few days ago. Don't know yet how many segments I want, more than four but less than 8 probably is my current thinkery
Kengai (Cascade style, growing downwards): first of five planned trunk sections nearly completed and wiring soon to be removed, two sacrifice branches established to thicken the trunk
Sharimiki (with deadwood along branches and trunk): Trunk around two thirds completed (will be bleached later on), first bleached branch completed around two months ago
Ikidabuki (Branches out of a fallen trunk all growing upward forming new trunks): Trunk completed, repotted and first new shoots are starting to form along the trunk
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
(location) Virginia (Zone 7a)
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sedumzz
Oct 16, 2021 12:35 PM CST
Very interesting. I love the "beard" of aerial roots Hilarious!
Check out my WANT list: https://docs.google.com/docume...
South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
Miniature Gardening Cactus and Succulents Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader
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dewayx
Oct 16, 2021 1:18 PM CST
sedumzz said:Very interesting. I love the "beard" of aerial roots Hilarious!


omg you scrambled my mind XD
I originally wanted to remove them in a later stage, but now I can't stop thinking of this plant like an alaskan lumberjack who would feel cold and down if I am to cut his beard
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
Name: TJOE
Indonesia
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Kaktus
Oct 16, 2021 3:55 PM CST
I like this kind of projects, especially the over the rock and cascade style, keep us posted
If they look healthy, do nothing
South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
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dewayx
Oct 18, 2021 6:28 AM CST
Thumb of 2021-10-18/dewayx/6432b5
4 new shoots on the Ikadabuki, on this picture just barely visible.
Used a long pot to later on bend one of the two front branches further forward and let its aerial roots come down.

Will probably leave the downward facing branch in place for a couple of months, as sacrifice branch to thicken the node and trunk. Water supply will be small at first to get it looking like it struggled after toppling over, then plenty to get a good trunk going (I'd like 10 cm for 4 trunks) and then slowly will be reduced again with the second pruning. It won't be allowed to flower, though that would look quite cool. Maybe after trunk building is finished, maybe some sacrifice branches will be allowed to.

Thumb of 2021-10-18/dewayx/ab0fea ayyy look at these cute new leaves! 2 weeks and they have bulbils on their edges already!



Thumb of 2021-10-18/dewayx/d86d51 (Zoomed and marked for those who didn't spot Smiling )
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
Name: TJOE
Indonesia
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Kaktus
Oct 18, 2021 6:41 AM CST
hm.. May I know why you lift the left side with straw now? Instead of lay it flat on the media to let it grow some roots, then raise/lift it up at a later stage ..
If they look healthy, do nothing
South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
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dewayx
Oct 18, 2021 7:17 AM CST
Oh oh it's not really "lifted up", it's holding itself even without straw. Wiring will start when the leaves look out a centimeter or more, and a few hours after a big heap of watering. Kalanchoe stems seem to be a slight bit softer and more bendy after watering, same goes for aerial roots.
The straw is just to guide and bend the air root later on, I want this one facing a bit more forward. Kalanchoe root bending is hella nerve-racking, because even old and knorky brown aerial roots tend to break quite easily. And if something is hard to bend, then you have to start early and go ahead in small steps, veeery small steps.

But I'm thinking of removing the straw and trying to bend it with little stones and a soil heap, removing it afterwards.
At Kalanchoes or Bonsai, you really feel like a bloody noob and even 6 years into the business you experiment more than execute well-established concepts. But a lot of that could also be because I do more unique/unusual stuff with my plants that you can't just look up on the internet because of pretty big differences between species.

It's trial and error, and big errors are only preventable by common sense. And if they happen anyways, with succulents you lost a year for every centimeter of slow and dry growth XD

More "standard" species of bonsai trees are far more forgiving. Take my Larix x marschlinsii, the sacrifice branches grew 35cm last year and even after cutting them off I have 5cm of solid branch growth every year.
For a Kalanchoe it's more like 5cm branch growth per year but it'll take further 5 years to consolidate them in any way, with a ton of things to break and even the trunk could snap just by leaf weight. Repotting is a 5 hour work of building temporary trunk holding contraptions from wood and aluminum wire, carefully wiring the whole beast up and root pruning will take most of the time after that.
Just getting this Fukinagashi out of the shelf and into it again (it grew through the shelf, forming a symbiosis between plant, pot and shelf) will take half an hour and two 360 rotations each for getting it in and out. Every leaf only fits through horizontally. Probably for the next repot into a slightly bigger training pot I will need to wire and bend it a month before repotting just to get it out. And yea, maybe that'll also be the last repot if I move him to the final bonsai pot. Dunno if he can get through that hassle again after the branches got more intricate and sophisticated/less bendy.

I have a long way to go xD
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
Name: TJOE
Indonesia
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Kaktus
Oct 20, 2021 3:14 AM CST
I don't understand bonsai, but while checking on my succulents today, I think I may have some Fukinagashi by accident.
Thumb of 2021-10-20/Kaktus/ed0536

If they look healthy, do nothing
South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
Miniature Gardening Cactus and Succulents Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader
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dewayx
Oct 20, 2021 4:04 AM CST
Kaktus said:I don't understand bonsai, but while checking on my succulents today, I think I may have some Fukinagashi by accident.
Thumb of 2021-10-20/Kaktus/ed0536


Don't call it wrong growing conditions - call it style
;)
Looks real cool but what about those branches in the back? Got something "planned" for them? maybe cascading them down the other side? Integrating them into the windswept main part?
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
Miniature Gardening Cactus and Succulents Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader
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dewayx
Oct 21, 2021 1:30 PM CST
At Ikadabuki there's always parts of your nebari or roots in general that point upwards or out of the soil (exception: breaking the trunk). With Kalanchoe, it isn't possible to 90° turn the trunk and roots (killing half of the roots, all that face out of the soil), chop its head off AND repot into wholly new medium and expect it to grow vigorously and bring forth 3+ healthy branches, it just wouldn't have the strength for that. Kalanchoes are strong and unkillable in many ways, but if you expect perfect growth it gets hairy. So, this one grew sideways facing the sun, crawling over the soil instead of upwards and then being thrown on its side afterwards to create the raft.

1.5 years of improvised, unsupervised growing, and it kinda worked. When I chopped it off and put it into that new pot, I preserved the angle of the roots in relation to the stem, meaning that the stem faced slightly upwards. I waited two weeks for the roots to get a firm hold of the new soil to then start working on bending the stem, with the roots as small anchor in the soil.

Thumb of 2021-10-21/dewayx/cf7618 So now today I wired it down and got the whole stem laying on the soil, before it was hovering above the soil supported by the counterweight of soil on the roots. (See pic in post above)

Thumb of 2021-10-21/dewayx/fae364 I increased the tension on the wire and put a cushion pad on the front end of the stem too. Then put some more moist crushed expanded clay onto the roots. Those roots at the back grow horizontally in relation to the soil surface already, meaning there's none of the desirable upwards pointing roots that look like the tree was uprooted and left laying on its side. But as said, I can't have those roots pointing upwards while repotting though, they would just die off instead of growing downwards again and into the soil.
Thumb of 2021-10-21/dewayx/15935d Brown being the soil, black plant's original parts including roots and part of the stem. Pink the growth I'd like to have, with roots growing out and down instead of just outwards from the laying stem as if it has always been laying on its side.

So yea, it's a strange solution to that problem but... once the feeder roots grew through that medium (which will be the main spot for watering), the structural roots and aerial roots will follow soon. And once the feeder roots moved on a bit and it's all thick structural roots inside of that heap of clay, I can remove it bit by bit, hardening the roots with air exposure.
Finished roots over there should resemble more this:
Thumb of 2021-10-21/dewayx/c18d7d with roots that recovered and grew downwards again after being in the air, than roots of a plant that grew sideways sunwards.

Thumb of 2021-10-21/dewayx/09f519 I've taken inspiration from this cedar raft style bonsai among others.

(don't mind that copyright thingy across those tree pics, they're not mine but I can't make garden.org do the watermark for one pic in a post and not for the other)
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
[Last edited by dewayx - Oct 21, 2021 1:34 PM (+)]
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South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
Miniature Gardening Cactus and Succulents Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader
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dewayx
Nov 2, 2021 2:02 AM CST
Little update after nearly 2 weeks


Thumb of 2021-11-02/dewayx/cc1d00 Cascade (Kengai) Style, I'll let the current top part grow a little more to thicken the trunk. Roots are in a hovering dirt block, making repotting easier later on and giving me a chance to incorporate some rocks into the design

Thumb of 2021-11-02/dewayx/4aa671


Thumb of 2021-11-02/dewayx/21d6b7 leaves that look like leaves and less like buds :3
Just a week or two more and I can select, which branches to keep and which to kill. I'll need at least one node on each branch to get a feeling for how it could look when left growing or terminated


get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
Name: TJOE
Indonesia
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Kaktus
Nov 2, 2021 8:35 AM CST
It seems like you are so knowledgeable about bonsai, I will assume that you have a great collection of bonsai trees, like ficus or maple trees. Smiling
If they look healthy, do nothing
South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
Miniature Gardening Cactus and Succulents Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader
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dewayx
Nov 2, 2021 3:18 PM CST
Most experience I have comes from ficus, larch and pine, because that's what I handle basically all day, Most of them aren't "mine" though. I work at a local tree nursery on weekends and worked myself up from water guy to repot guy in a year and a half, currently trying to get into the rewiring and pruning bits; those things can influence or settle style choices though, so there's a lot of trust needed before they let me do that instead of someone who did it for 20+ years already.
Succulents at home were usually thought for chill-out and as "easy plants", but now this happened and I just can't keep my ideas from going wild.
A lot of people on this forum have biiiig collections with huge variety, and they increase their variety with every purchase. For me it's the other way around. Every time I get here on the forum to chat, instead of wanting the strangest and rarest varieties of succulents, I end up off-shelving cacti, jade trees and echeveria, pachyphytum haworthia sansevieria echinopsis and what not just to make space for yet another kalanchoe, moss or selenicereus.
It's still variety, but slowly the styles vary more than the species. Annoying and crybaby species just suddenly appear on my mom's plant shelves. No need for weaklings here, a plant needs to cope with getting styled, cut in pieces, wired and malnutritioned for the sake of style and "science" or it has to say bye-bye to the sunny southern spot ;)
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
South Germany (Zone 7b)
just mlem on!
Miniature Gardening Cactus and Succulents Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader
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dewayx
Nov 25, 2021 11:43 PM CST
Found an old picture from February
Thumb of 2021-11-26/dewayx/1f0baf

From left to right: Mainline Kalanchoe, not-yet-made-into Ikadabuki, some Pachyphytum, Fukinagashi that has bloomed just a few months ago (December 2020)
get the mlems in! Don't let them get wet or stale outside, come on!
[Last edited by dewayx - Nov 25, 2021 11:43 PM (+)]
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