Chojubai: 10-Year Development
After growing Chojubai for 10 years from 2” cuttings, I now have some idea what’s possible in that time frame.
A few weeks ago we had Daisaku Nomoto in the garden, and on going into the Chojubai house where our efforts of the last decade were, he said, “Only ten years! In Japan they’d be half that size.” Balmy Oregon weather is good for something, I guess.
We do work on them at least twice every year. Either wiring or cutting, often a bit of both.
From the start we had the intent to sell them, as finished bonsai. 2021 was the first year we potted a few up. Now we’re potting 6-8 a year.
Here are a few photos of the Chojubai we sold this year.
We had a bit of fun with our promo to our buyers… This one we called Belle (from Beauty and the Beast). Most names are Pixar / Disney inspired, and each came with “adoption” information, including a personality sketch and their favorite superhero. Belle’s was Wonder Woman. 20” wide x 10” high. Age: 11 Pot: Reiho
This is Russell (the adolescent in UP). Stats: 12” wide x 9” high. Age: 10 Pot: Yamaaki
Skeletor (He-Man’s nemesis) Stats: 21” wide x 14” high. Age: 11 Pot: Tokoname
Dot (from The Incredibles). 6” wide x 4” high. Age: 7 Pot: Bunzan
If you want to be on the Chojubai “List”—waiting in line for one of our potted up Chojubai—please send me an email! email@example.com The list is currently about a 6 year wait.
Hi Michael. Can you share anything about the timing you employ for work on your chojubai?
Thank you once again for sharing your talent and time with us. Question: I have a Japanese Quince that is flowering now here in Southern California. That plant is not really ramifying and last summer her leaves had a yellow cast to them. Clearly, I don’t know what I am doing. Here is the question (finally); where can I find out more about caring for and developing her. I love to read.
Stress of various sorts can cause yellow leaves. The weather is part of the issue, but also the water is sometimes a culprit in that it prevents nutrient uptake. I’d check the pH and see that it isn’t too high, and adjust to 7 or below. Also, the hardness can be an issue.
Michael – I recently got a couple of small Chojubaiso am starting the 10 year journey. You have obviously learned a LOT over the last 10 years. Do you have any plans to share a summary or can I find most of it by digging through your blog. I am particularly interested in A) the soil mix you grew them in early on, B) if you had them planted in the ground or in a large nursery pot and if so how big and finally C) if you picked off the flower buds in the early years to force the energy into more growth. Those trees are very impressive and I have admired them for some time. You are a Chojubai Master. Thanks in advance for whatever info you can provide.
PS – I am in Seattle so have plenty of clouds and moisture to make them happy!
Hi Wayne—-There is some info on the blog about chojubai, yes, but I can summarize. Early grow soil was 80% pumice, 20% bark/steer. The largest pot i find useful for chojubai is an Anderson Flat, which is about 4 gallons of soil. Larger than that and the quince doesn’t colonize with roots. For young plants often we can’t spend the time to take flowers off, so i just fertilize more. We do try to get the quince off though. Cheers!
Thanks as always for scratching the chojubai itch many of us have. Curious what size containers you use for development? Thanks as always!
For small ones, 1 gallon. The large ones can be 3 or 4 gallon. There isn’t much benefit going larger in pot size.
Great specimens with fantastic ramifications. How do you begin to ratify a three foot tall, triple trunk, gangly plant with limbs going every direction? It has been pruned back two years in a row with the intent to thicken the trunk. It’s in full bloom now – beautiful blooms in abundance. Help!
Hey Otis, pruning back is the best way to shoot out new branches. Pushing new growth will build trunk diameter, but it takes 40 or more years to grow an inch on a chojubai, so I’d concentrate on trunk movement rather than girth.
Thanks for the tip, Michael. I think I’ll try to work on something I may be able to accomplish. I don’t believe that I have another four decades left in my tank for this Earth. I’d like to start building some ramification, but I couldn’t muster the courage to chop as severely as you did. Que sera, sera. Thanks again, and keep the choice articles and photos coming.