Florida Oak Development

When developing Florida Oak, what are the techniques I need to implement to develop these oaks? Let them grow grow grow…or prune the apex and force growth to the lower branches?

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Looks like a fun project! There are many ways people suggest developing small cuttings/seedlings.

Short list:
Field grow them in the ground
Put them in a grow box
Escape method (nursery container with holes on sides of bottom … let the roots escape out the sideholes into the ground then cut them off when you have the girth you want)

As far as cut back goes… couple principles:
The more foliage mass and unrestricted growth they have, the faster the trunk will thicken
Their are guidelines/suggestions for when and where to cutback … eg when your base is essentially where you want it in terms of thickness, you’ll want to cut horizontally at 1/3 the height of the final height of the tree

This is a whole complex topic and there are genre and species specific recommendations - eg the above rec’s are primarily for deciduous (including oak) … how you handled a pine would be very different

On a personal/practical note:
For me, I found myself getting impatient and not having the discipline to wait 5-10 years for cuttings to get that thick… and then I’d end up cutting wherever I thought it would look cool
You can consider buying a chunky nursery stock that already has the thickness you want in the species you want, but often you end up spending a good chunk of change on an experiment that may not work
If you’re really interested in growing things ‘from scratch’ I’d consider putting each cutting in a different container and using a different technique for each - you may find that your environment and your personal set of skills do better with one technique than another

Hope this helps stimulate your research and be sure to post your experience - would love to learn from it

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They are just seedings now, so pruning would just hurt your chances. Like DrC says it would be best to get them in separate small pots in the spring to start. The soil should be a standard potting mix for now. I do not know how thick of trunks you are looking for here, but the fastest way to thicken the trunks is to plant them in the ground in some fashion. I suggest using a raised grow box (see how to field grow good bonsai). You will have to choose your trunk design and get them wired and moving in that direction in the next year or two. Remember, a 1/2 inch of movement looks a lot more pronounced on a seedling than a small tree with a 2 inch thick trunk. These trees will need to build foliage mass before cutting back will drive any significant branching. I mean the tree will need to get 4 to 6 feet tall, and may be more.

I just removed 3 trees I have been growing for 8 years and they are just prebonsai now. Be prepared to be patient. DrC is right If you want something to work with now go to a garden center. Be careful there also, many trees are grafted and will not look good as bonsai.

I suggest growing a couple of shohin, some medium and larger designs just for the fun and experience of it.

Have fun

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