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I had been waiting for my quince to flower for the last few seasons and this year it finally set flower buds. As luck would have it though as they were opening we had a few days of heavy rain which damaged the blooms. I should really have taken the tree inside to avoid the rain but I totally forgot about it until it was too late.

Budding left and rain damaged on the right.

On the bright side at least the quince has begun to flower so hopefully next year it will set more buds and with the ramification I hope to build this season it should make for a better display.












The following trident maple was ground grown by a friend. Since digging it up I have slowly been preparing it for its future life as bonsai.

One of the things I wanted to do this year was to set a first branch in an area where there was no branching.  I used a rough version of approach grafting which I hope to explain below.

Now the method I am using is not as exacting as it could be. The reason for this is the species I am using (Trident Maple). Tridents are very fast growing and forgiving. They also fuse very quickly which is the trait I am hoping to take advantage of in this instance.

Making the cut.

Approach grafting is a fairly straight forward technique. I wrote about it in regards to conifers in two parts HERE and HERE. To approach graft conifers you have to be fairly exact when lining up the cambium layers. Using the below variation you can be a bit less exact if using thin barked deciduous trees.

The finished cut.

Firstly you cut a channel roughly the width and depth of the whip you wish to graft.

The pinned whip.

You then insert the whip and secure it in place so that as it grows it is forced to grow into the cut channel, during which time it grows together with the trunk, fuses and makes the graft.

Hammer time.

In this example I used map pins to secure the graft. I find that the round surface of the pins heads does less damage to the growing and thickening whip than using square-headed pins or those with sharper edges.

The second pin secured.

In this case two pins were used to secure the whip. As Trident maples grow quickly and have relatively thin bark the whip and cut channel should graft together in a relatively short time as they heal and thicken. What is good about this technique is you can use very young whips as you do not need to expose the cambium layer. By not having to expose the cambium layer you avoid having to expose a large percentage of the cambium in the form of a wound and therefore increase the chance of the whip surviving and growing strongly.

Sealed, wired and ready to grow.

After setting the graft I like to lightly wire the whip and direct the tip upwards to ensure it will grow both strongly and leave the graft site at a desired angle.

This graft will be left to grow for the season so it can thicken, fuse and graft itself onto the trunk. I will cut it off the parent whip once I can see a difference in thickness between either side of the graft site. As the graft begins to take it should start to draw sap from the trunk and become noticeably thicker from the graft site onwards.

After I finished placing the graft on the trident maple I decided it was also a good time to clean up a graft on a Chinese Quince from last season. If you look closely you can see the difference in thickness between the grafted branch and the stub that use to be connected to the parent whip.

A successful graft

You can just see the stub below the branch junction where the whip was cut once it had taken.

Stub removed.

I like to leave the stub on for a while until I see the graft growing strongly. I think keeping wounds away from the graft site at least until you are sure the graft is successful is a good idea.

Sealed and finished.

To complete the process it is as simple as cleaning up the stub from where the whip was once attached and sealing the wound. Once the wounds heal and the graft grows for a season or two it will become increasingly difficult to tell that it was a grafted branch.

It is a very simple process all in all and one I use quite often. It can be used with a range of thin barked deciduous trees that show signs of fusing easily. It is an easy technique to do and most of the time returns great results. Some example species to try might be, Trident Maple, Japanese Maple, Chinese Quince, ficus species and other species with similar bark traits.

Right now Melbourne is deep within the throes of winter, in fact, judging by the temps we are right in the middle of it. It seems that my quince has other ideas. It has been steadily waking up and has just started producing new growth as if it is spring time.

New Growth.

As a result I have had to re-pot. This is the second re-potting I have given it since I have owned it and was pleasantly surprised by the root-mass I found after the hard treatment it received after its first re-potting.

Looking at the roots from beneath. You can see that the roots that were growing downwards have been removed leaving an almost solid wooden base..

The tree went back into the same pot is was in previously. One thing you may notice is that a lot of my trees are in green pots. There is a reason for this. Where I live most pots of this age were in green tones. Around that time there was a local grower that hated blue pots and as a result of his experience and influence this lead to very few blue pots being bought during this time. As a result all my pots (which have mostly been bought second hand from other local members) are mostly green.

The tree re-potted.

I have not yet seen flowers on this tree. Hopefully this year I will get a few. I am not sure if this tree is mature enough to flower or not, or for that matter how old a quince has to be before flowering. If anyone reading this has an idea please post in the comments.

New buds.

A lot of people have told me that the quince is an early riser and recently I was reading through some old Bonsai Today magazines where in one article they suggested re-potting in autumn due to the early growth and flowering. I think I will give that a go next year.

The tree below is another that was heavily infested with pests. It was infested with Whitefly which in turn had led to sooty mould. Again, in the last garden it was growing in it was almost impossible to control the fly as every time I would spray the tree it would be re-infested a couple of days later.

As a result of the infestation each leaf that was on the tree had a hundred or more eggs laid underneath it. Because of this I wanted to defoliate just before leaf drop so I was able to collect all the leaves and destroy them.

The Quince before defoliation. You can see how damaged the leaves are from the whitefly.

This is my only quince and since I have owned it I have fallen in love with the species. It grows strongly, approach grafts easily, and buds back well. It also shows great colour in autumn (should you not defoliate it too early such as I did this year) and also gives a display of flowers followed by fruit. The bark is also very attractive. When you add up all these positives you get a species that makes a great bonsai candidate.

After removing the infested leaves.

As you can see from the above image, the tree is still very much in the developement stages. I am in the process of approach grafting a number of branches onto the trunk and am also trying to develop a new first branch. The second branch is where most of the whips for the approach grafts are taken from, which explains the looped twigs. This last summer I was able to graft 4 new branches but 3 still need a little more growth before they can be cut from their parent branch. This coming season I hope to graft a couple more.

For those of you wondering what pot the quince is in, it is a pot by Yamafusa. Yamafusa although not really high-end, is one of my favorite tokoname potters. Their green glazes are very beautiful and suit a wode range of deciduous trees and although at the cheaper end of the price scale their pots are great quality.

After I defoliated this Quince I also sprayed with lime sulphur in the same way i did with my trident maple. Hopefully this will kill any remaining insects and leave it pest free come spring. Fingers crossed.


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