After searching, I found one topic on this species from a couple years ago, and I’ve done some googling around, but I still haven’t found a lot of information. So I figured I’d bring attention to the Madrone again and see if anyone has done work on it.
Superficially, the Madrone strikes me as a species with incredible bonsai potential. This beauty of the Pacific Northwest (right in Mirai’s backyard!) branches with a naturally interesting habit, and the bark makes an incredibly vivid statement.
The problem I see mentioned is the inability to root prune without killing the tree. The madrone doesn’t mind drying out a bit, but it absolutely hates transplanting.
Does anyone have ideas for ways to adjust for that? Do any other bonsai species have similar root sensitivity and how have those species been trained successfully? Have other arbutus relatives been more successful?
I’m still fairly new to growing plants and I don’t understand root formation well enough to be confident in my own ideas, but I am curious if air pruning the roots might be a gentler way to prevent the tree from getting potbound than manually pruning them.
Or could smaller, more frequent pruning sessions work?
My own Madrone ships in September, and as much as I’d love to do some science on it to help answer these questions, I’m hesitant to do anything too daring since it was expensive (by my paltry budget anyway). I might try the air pruning technique if that stands a reasonable chance. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep up-potting it until somebody figures it out. 'cause it’s gotta be possible, right?