Questions on newly received holly
(Westchester, NY, USA)
I recently received a neglected holly shrub from a friend that is still in it's nursery pot. They didn't want it and knew I was starting to learn bonsai art. It is ilex glabra, inkberry. While root bound, the leaves on low branches are dark green and fairly horizontal, but most leaves are high up and light green and point somewhat upward. I'm curious as to when and how to do what and I'll explain further.
The tree is quite leggy, approximately 2.5 feet tall. Most branches only have clusters of leaves on the very ends of the newer shoots which are green/yellow and not woody. I'm not sure when to prune because different sources say different things. Some say winter, others say spring and summer.
I removed a good deal of leaves that had black spot fungus. I would like to use a natural herbicide made from fresh or dry herbs I have such as garlic, rosemary, chamomile, lavender, goldenseal, myrrh, frankincense, etc. Any suggestions? I don't want to harm the tree. Some suggest peroxide and baking soda or a cinnamon brew in water or rubbing alcohol.
I live in southern NY close to NYC. It's pretty hot and humid in July so I am hesitant to repot, though some sources say you can repot without disturbing the roots much into a pot twice as wide and 2/3 deep while pruning 1/3 of the roots.
I'm also curious when I can wire the branches. I don't
want to do drastic wiring, just mild position shift. This holly has interesting nebari, pruning scars that are interesting, and almost looks windswept and I think it can become a very nice bonsai.
Anyway, I hope you can help as others I have asked have never dealt with holly species. Any information you can offer will be a big help. I can't send photos from my iPad, but if you email me I can send back images from my desktop computer.
Thanks and hope to hear back from you.
Wow, sounds like you have quite a task on your hands!!!
You're right, Holly is not often the most practiced-on tree!
Basically, we would suggest 2 things -
1. Don't repot at this stage, if the tree is sick and you have solved the fungal problem you'll probably be ok. Just make sure there are no pollutants in the soil.
2. Don't worry so much about shaping yet. Allow the tree time to gain strength - possibly until next season. If you try wiring/shaping now, you may damage the branches.
Feeding will be a necessary part of the growth process. holly is quite hardy, but will need to be fed next spring, after it has regained some strength.
As far as pruning goes, you should wait now until the start of Spring. That will be primetime for your Holly's growth. Prune all new growth as it appears.
Good luck, keep us posted!
Thanks for sharing!