American/Common Hackberry Design

Hello all,

I put my Hackberry in its’ first pot this year. I was collected it 6 years ago from my parents yard. Hurray, for “yamayardi” or yardadori if you prefer. I initially grew it in a pot for a year to get some roots going. As you can see, I used cut paste on the chop with full failure. I had not seen or heard of the putty yet. Years of letting it grow in a grow box and cutting back has produced this starter material. I love the bark on the hackberry. Many feel it would be too out of scale for bonsai, and the leaves do not reduce to dime size. I like it, and took caution, so I decided this would be a fairly tall bonsai. 24" to 30" first design, The trunk is about 5" spreading to about 7" at the soil line with buttressing roots. I have posted a pick from my perceived front.

So…I would welcome any hackberry knowledge. I feel it is ready to cut back hard this coming spring since it is growing so well. Most old hackberries tend to rot out so I thought I might make a feature of that rotting center and opening up the trunk all the way to the base. My thought is to do this first because of the risk of branch loss. My other thought is, I have been mindful to keep the trunk pristine and why would I do that?. My experience with hackberries has taught me there are no guaranties when you cut back. It will grow branches where it wants to.

Have at it. I tend to not to take things personal. All comments are welcome.

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Wide Shot of starter tree


No particular advice since I haven’t worked with one yet, though common hackberry is at the top of my list for things to collect this coming spring. So I have been reading a bit on them. I have heard from others that the leaves do reduce very well. I see you have it potted into what appears to be a massive nursery pot inside a barrel? I have a feeling that when you actually repot it into an appropriately sized bonsai container you will see more leaf reduction.

Looking at it now I would say your top two priorities is to 1. Pot it into a much smaller bonsai pot (hopefully leaf reduction and smaller internodes will follow this) and 2. Take care of that big chop scar. I think carving open that scar to make a “hollow trunk” type of feature is a great idea, that’s probably what I would try to do.

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Actually that pot is only 6" deep. It’s a whisky barrel liner. Looks better than wood box? Yes, the finish pot will be smaller.


I like the idea with hollow trunk as @Mike_Hennigan mentioned, that is actually what came to my mind as it somehow suits to this tree and definitely it will give it a beautiful character :slight_smile:
Nice tree!