Beginner Species

My on again off again lifetime infatuation with bonsai has resulted in the premature deaths of countless garden center shrubbery. So I swapped the process from shopping for a tree to grow in my back yard to finding trees that are growing in my back yard. This inevitably led me to the chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) and began my love affair with an invasive species. I am sure no new ground is covered here but for anyone just starting out I cannot recommend this plant enough. They like it wet, they don’t really care if it’s dry. Full sun, no problem, shade, no big deal. They appear dead? Wait a few weeks and pat yourself on the back for your horticultural prowess as new buds open to form beautiful, tiny leaves. While insects are happily munching on every other tree on the bench they leave the privets alone to continue to pump out nearly flawless growth. With no prior experience worth noting and a hectic schedule, I have been able to keep all of these alive and one even in a ridiculously small pot. They are the trees I am using to practice all of the techniques learned here while growing my “real” bonsai and figuring out how to keep all of the other species alive, in a pot, in my backyard. I have been able to get some bonsai-ish forms from the lowly privet in a single growing season.

Has anyone had a similar experience with another species? Juniperus virginiana also grow like weeds around here and I plan on giving them a go next spring.

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Great point about working with species that grow wild or at least very well in your climate. I have seen pictures of some very nice privet bonsai. We should probably do more with them since they grow well and have small leaves. I am starting to grow and develop seedlings of some of the small trees and shrubs of the Pacific NW in hopes of getting folks interested in them.

@MartyWeiser Have you ran into any issues with yours? I am curious how much of my luck is due to region, species, (or just plain luck). They are really easy to root. All of my cuttings are still alive and I am anxious to try some layering and larger cuttings next year.

@Casteel I don’t have any privet, but was commenting that I had seen pictures of some good ones and that we should put more time and attention into trees that grow well where we live.