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Thread: Firethorn

  1. #1
    Senior Member DrSmith is infamous around these parts DrSmith's Avatar
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    Firethorn

    As I'm new and basically a beginner, I thought I'd just share where I'm at. I currently have 3 Chinese Elm (recently repotted) and a Ficus - all of these were purchased as bonsai. I've had a few dropped leaves with the Elm but, so far, so good.
    My first beginners project involves firethorn. I believe you can't really go too wrong with this shrub and it's a reasonably safe bet for beginners. The idea is to shape and prune the firethorn into a bonsai. Although it's maybe not the best season to prune, I started today and trimmed off some unecessary branches. I also did a little bit of wiring and was quite pleased with the result. Not too bad.
    Anyway, any of you who have successfully used firethorn as bonsai, please feel free to share some advice. Here are a few questions:
    (1) How would I thicken the potential trunk of firethorn?
    (2) How about leaf size? If I cut some of the leaves down to size a little, would the next set of leaves grow smaller? I figure I could use deser and smaller leaves.
    (3) How about compost? Should I mix acadama with organic compost?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member DrSmith is infamous around these parts DrSmith's Avatar
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    Firethorn

    P.S. The image is not my firethorn but one I took as an example of what to aim for.

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    Super Moderator mikey012076 has disabled reputation mikey012076's Avatar
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    Re:Firethorn

    DrSmith wrote:
    As I'm new and basically a beginner, I thought I'd just share where I'm at. I currently have 3 Chinese Elm (recently repotted) and a Ficus - all of these were purchased as bonsai. I've had a few dropped leaves with the Elm but, so far, so good.
    My first beginners project involves firethorn. I believe you can't really go too wrong with this shrub and it's a reasonably safe bet for beginners. The idea is to shape and prune the firethorn into a bonsai. Although it's maybe not the best season to prune, I started today and trimmed off some unecessary branches. I also did a little bit of wiring and was quite pleased with the result. Not too bad.
    Anyway, any of you who have successfully used firethorn as bonsai, please feel free to share some advice. Here are a few questions:
    (1) How would I thicken the potential trunk of firethorn?
    (2) How about leaf size? If I cut some of the leaves down to size a little, would the next set of leaves grow smaller? I figure I could use deser and smaller leaves.
    (3) How about compost? Should I mix acadama with organic compost?
    1. Go to this site it has info you will need. Using a red spectrum light, will grow more thicker tuunk, and branches, blue spectrum light will grow more leaf mass also greener leaves. Just remember the trunk on any tree will take time to grow. http://www.brusselsbonsai.com/care/care_sheets/FirethornCM.html

    2.Defoliating is removing the leaves of deciduous and broadleaf trees. In the summer it makes the tree produce new set of leaves. Better leaf density and a reduction in leaf size. Defoliating should only be done on healthy trees. Tropical trees can be Defoliated year round. Read this before Defoliating your tree. http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATdefoliating.htm

    3. if you want to add acadama to your soil that is fine, acadama is red volcanic rock you can get it cheeper from a hardware store, here is some info you mite need for soil.
    All that good bonsai soil needs is what I call W.D.A that is Water retention, Drainage and aeration. Water retention will hold moisture and nutrient to feed your tree and keep your roots from drying out. Organic based soils mixes, loam, “loam is just topsoil” aged pine bark, sphagnum peat moss, then you have inorganic based that are volcanic lava, sand, fired clays, turface, Perlite and Vermiculite. All are used in making Bonsai soil.
    Drainage with out good drainage your tree will have to much water and no air to keep living also makes a build up of salts that will burn your roots out.
    Aeration helps oxygen get to your roots also gives your roots space to grow. What is good for this is fired clays, small pebbles, Perlite, volcanic rock and Turface even kitty litter that does not Brake down to clay. It all depends what soils to use for the tree/plant you have, some trees like dryer soils and some like wetter soils. Some need organic based soils to live, like the juniper that needs bacteria in the soil that you can get from sphagnum peat moss and loam. If you are going to make you own soil you will need to do it in parts, I use one cup as a part because why should I need to make more then what I need for that tree I am repotting or potting. So for a standard soil for a tree I would use 6 parts Turface, and 10 parts aged pine bark. It all depends on the tree type, if it needs more moisture I will add 4 parts Turface and not 6 parts, or just add 4 parts potting soil and take out nothing. So when making your bonsai soil think about what your tree needs to live happy.

    Hope this helps.

    Mike....:O)

  4. #4
    Senior Member DrSmith is infamous around these parts DrSmith's Avatar
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    Re:Firethorn

    Thanks for the info. My firethorn is currently in the garden and I guess I have managed to get some shape into what was a climbing shrub when I bought it. It's hard to decide how good (or bad) a job I've made of the pruning process but hopefully I'll work on leaf density so the fewer branches I now have thicken out.
    I was interested you mentioned Bonsai4me as somebody else pointed me inthe direction of that site a couple of weeks ago as there was an article on using cat litter as an alternative to acadama. This was a certain brand of cat-litter so we all gave it a go. I must say at this stage I feel the cat litter seems to work well but I won't be using it on my firethorn till I read up on your post a bit more (with regard to soils and composts). But I can say my Chinese Elm is budding really well since I repotted in a mix of the former compost and the cat litter (which I swilled in water before using).
    One question: When would be the best time to defoliate or partly defoliate? Do you suppose if I snipped the bigger leaves down to size that would also be effective (we're now in autumn). I have some small leaves on the firethorn so I'd like more of those in dense clusters.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator mikey012076 has disabled reputation mikey012076's Avatar
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    Re:Firethorn

    DrSmith wrote:
    Thanks for the info. My firethorn is currently in the garden and I guess I have managed to get some shape into what was a climbing shrub when I bought it. It's hard to decide how good (or bad) a job I've made of the pruning process but hopefully I'll work on leaf density so the fewer branches I now have thicken out.
    I was interested you mentioned Bonsai4me as somebody else pointed me inthe direction of that site a couple of weeks ago as there was an article on using cat litter as an alternative to acadama. This was a certain brand of cat-litter so we all gave it a go. I must say at this stage I feel the cat litter seems to work well but I won't be using it on my firethorn till I read up on your post a bit more (with regard to soils and composts). But I can say my Chinese Elm is budding really well since I repotted in a mix of the former compost and the cat litter (which I swilled in water before using).
    One question: When would be the best time to defoliate or partly defoliate? Do you suppose if I snipped the bigger leaves down to size that would also be effective (we're now in autumn). I have some small leaves on the firethorn so I'd like more of those in dense clusters.
    If you cut a leaf down in size it will do nothing to your tree you will just have a tree with cut leaves, but if you cut off your leaves then, your tree knows to grow more leaves, so if you want cut off your big leaves let more grow in there place, I partly defoliate my trees, so the tree still has something to feed off of when growing back it's leaves, I will defoliate year round only if they are indoor trees, but if they are out door trees I will defoliate two times in the summer, maybe one time more two months before a Bonsai show. I had mentioned Bonsai4me, becouse it is one of the sites that I know that they know what they are talking about when it comes to Bonsai, they tell it like it is and do not jump around on there words, I see it this way if someone has info that I know is good then I will use it to help people, before I type out a whole letter on something I can just put a link to, it saves me time and from going nuts:silly: . The cat litter is one good way to save money, also getting more air and space for your roots to grow, the ezer air get to your roots and the better space the roots have not to push into hard soil the faster and larger your tree will grow.
    The more times you defoliate the smaller your leaves will get, soon your tree will know to keep the leaves smaller, also grow more dense clusters of leaves, a bigger pot more roots, will grow more dense clusters Of leaves.

    Mike...:O)

  6. #6
    Senior Member DrSmith is infamous around these parts DrSmith's Avatar
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    Re:Firethorn

    Maybe my best bet at this time of year is to try removing a few leaves? Just a percentage and see if some grow backs smaller. I mean, strnage things happen. I have a Chinese Elm that's budding like crazy after it lost a few leaves. I think what it is is the weather is still quite mild over here and not particularly cold.
    You can buy firethorn over here in local markets. They're sold as climbers. Mine was covered in berries at the time of purchase but now only the leaves remain. I just pruned it to get a tree structure and even everything out. Most bonsai hobbyists remover the thorns by snipping off the tips but I decided to leave them on - nature's protection for the shrub against potential pests, I figure, but you have to take care when wiring.

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    Re:Firethorn

    Removing a few leaves and see what happens. It can't hurt.

  8. #8
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    Re:Firethorn

    I agree. Firethorn is very very hardy. I'll leave enough leaves on for the plant to function and remove a percentage.

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    Re:Firethorn

    Sounds good. Let me know what happens.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DrSmith is infamous around these parts DrSmith's Avatar
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    Re:Firethorn

    I removed most of the larger leaves yesterday and left enough leaves to sustain the plant. Whether some new leaves will grow back at this time of year I cannot say. I'll have to see.
    I found out today firethorn can seriously harm your popularity. Seems like a thorn or two got onto my clothes and then fell onto the carpet in the home. Someone was walking around without any slippers on and trod on a thorn. They can evidently cause pain.
    Thus far, I wired my firethorn up and never got hurt by a thorn myself. I left the thorns on as I consider them part of the plant. I have no idea how thorns got onto the carpet but it must have been when pruning.

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