This is one of 15 southern live oaks I have left of the origonal 50 cut back and container grown from seed for the last 13 years as of this summer. It was left in a pot for a few reasons. One, to sell. It’s difficult to sell a tree in the ground, expecially out of season when you can’t safely dig it up. Also, ease of maintenance. It’s a lot easier to keep trimmed and clean in a 12″ bulb pan. This was cut to a line and placed on a finished container a year ago. The roots were close and it tolerated an aggressive root trimming, just like all the others. Plus, tons of activity in the soil. It’s amazing how much healthier they are with good drainage and correct fertilizing.
If it was grown in the ground, or even in a larger container for a few years, it would be triple this sized. In fact, 30 more of the original batch of oaks in 2003 were left to grow into A1 landscaping and the last 7 I have left are all over 4″ inch trunks and 10′ tall now. Just goes to show you what limiting roots in bulb pans or bonsai pots can do to tree stunting. I agree that growing on the ground is the best way to thicken trunks long term. However, it is at the expense of any branch refinement. You grow those later, in stages. The ground is not for refinement, it’s for trunk development. On a side note, root maker pots seem to be a good tradeoff on trunk development, plus being able to do some initial styling work. One thing I did notice, is oaks have beneficial microbes in the soil. More than any other tree I work with other than pines. And health is indicative by amount of living organisms in mix and just general toughness. Oaks are hungry, but really thrive with organic fertilizer, which makes perfect sense if the microbes in the soil do in fact help uptake nutrients like other trees displaying similar traits.
So, I did the initial wiring. Instead of curing back hard, I wanted to try to replicate some of the trees on the property. How some of the branches are very long, And actually touch the ground, reroot, and come back up again. This isn’t there yet, but I’m trying to give you an idea. Also, top straight section on upper trunk has to back bud, and be replaced in the future to create more believable taper and a better transition. I didn’t cut it back hard because we are in fall here. Leaving extra foliage up top will keep it viable and vigorous. Heavy cuts are for spring. The last burst of growth will be nice, And set it up next year’s chop and rewire. I’ll also do some carving on hollow in front. Enjoy