Yaupon Holly Yardadori

I posed this question to Ryan in the latest Live Q&A (last question).

I collected a very large Yaupon Holly yesterday. I had to remove quite a bit of root mass to get it in the grow box. I know the canopy can help the roots regain strength but I’ve also seen these hedge-type trees be cut back quite severely at collection; no foliage left. Is this possible with a Yaupon? The canopy is unwieldy at its current size.

In summary, he’s not sure, but clarifies he’s never had an issue leaving the canopy intact. Another bonsai expert couldn’t say for sure, but suggested he would go with the cutback out of convenience and be open to failure. Consensus from my local club is the tree can withstand a drastic cutback.

I’m certainly open to failure but not sure I want to do what’s convenient. I want to do what’s best for the tree. So I’ve amended my question to include: can leaving the canopy intact hurt the tree?

I anticipate some questions about how many roots I collected. I didn’t have the luxury of digging the tree myself, it was just laying on the curb. So I can’t say how many roots were left behind and I’m not sure I have the experience to know how many “good” roots actually made it in the box.

Here’s the tree in question. I’ve been racking my brain on this one. Crowdsourcing for the win—thanks in advance!


No experience with Yaupon Holly, but a couple of thoughts. I see a tradeoff between having enough foliage to drive new root growth and having so much foliage that roots struggle to provide water. You imply that the roots may be a bit limited and the picture shows a large shrub in a very nice looking, but not particularly large container. I am thinking that reducing the foliage by about 1/3 might be a good approach. Take out the branches that are particularly long with foliage only at the tips. That will both reduce the water demand upon the roots and provide some interior light to start the back budding process.


Leaving the canopy won’t hurt the tree. It only affects your timeline. So, remove it and speed up the process but risk losing everything or leave it and give yourself a better chance of success.


It is so nice to see another member working on Yaupon Holly. I was in the same boat as you are right now but you are lucky that you got to collect it right before spring. Last year someone was getting rid of 3 Yaupon’s mid July right dead center of the Texas heat waves. I did the same as you reduced some roots to just fit it into a pot but decided to trim all the unworkable trunks and branches. 3 months later it set a new set of leaves. I’ve been awaiting for spring and I can see that they are pushing new growth everywhere, including old wood. I will probably wait an additional season to work with it.

So from my experience go ahead and choose what you will work with, I can immediately see from your material some areas that will not work long term. I would suggest to leave several workable and interesting trunks and see what buds back. Attached are some photos of the progression of the material.



@pj86—how exciting is that new growth! Very cool, thanks for sharing.

I’m curious to know why you made the decision to trim the unworkable trunks and branches. And I assume the canopy? Was it a horticultural decision? Or a timeline decision as @chuckwheat suggests?

Timeline and horticultural. If I had the room I would have left the foliar mass to regenerate the roots first, but I did not have the room. Pruning conservatively would have lead to apical dominance on the trunks that had not had their shoots removed. Typically leaving the foliar mass on the apex of a trunk will lead to extension of that trunk and cause it to thicken. I was already satisfied with all the girth so I went ahead and removed the unwanted material in hopes it would lead to back budding.

1 Like