Beech is one of the favorite essences for creating bonsai. Those who prefer native essences drop their choice on Fagus sylvatica, the common beech, very common in the woods of our continent. It is not a simple essence, but with a little application it can give great satisfaction. It is not difficult to find small specimens on the market, both of the species and of some cultivars with red leaves or with decombing posture. Furthermore, if allowed by the authorities, it is possible to take small specimens already with some particular predispositions (for example a large trunk). As a last resort, it is possible to grow a sapling directly from seed, harvesting the beech trees in autumn.
Aesthetic characteristics and variety
The beech is appreciated for its beautiful structure, very harmonious and light, but at the same time resistant. A great attraction are the leaves: green during the year to turn red and golden yellow in autumn. They almost always remain on the tree for the entire winter period to fall only when the buds push again.
Obviously you can also opt for the cultivars of the atropurpurea group. The most common ones vary only for the color of the foliage (purplish and then coppery), but there are also some with particular bearing (columnar, decombent).
Fagus crenata (with smaller leaves and also with very intense colors) are also very popular.
Usually with beech trees there is a tendency to create groves (Yose-Ue style), obtaining the natural shape with pruning. However, it is not uncommon for some particularly beautiful specimens to be used alone. In this case, the chokkan (formal erect) and hokidachi (inverted broom, with rounded hair) styles are followed. There are also cases of windy style, although it requires a lot of experience and patience.
How to get the map?
In addition to the purchase, we can proceed by sowing, picking or layering a branch.
Sowing (in sand and peat) is carried out at the end of winter after having proceeded to stratification in moist sand for about 3 months, at low temperature. The peeled fruits are used by inserting them pointed at the bottom. After germination, keep them sheltered from direct sun and always keep the humidity high. To enlarge the trunk it is then recommended to transplant in the ground for a few years.
Layering is quite successful, as long as a well humid environment is guaranteed.
The harvest must be done in early spring, before the buds swell or in late autumn: the roots do not suffer particularly, but a good amount of earth must also be taken around. For the development of the tree it is important that there are mycorrhizae typical of the area where it was born.
The beech bonsai it has a moderately vigorous development (concentrated in spring), but requires specific climatic conditions. It is usually good to grow it in partial shade, especially if the humidity is not comparable to that of a forest. In this way we will avoid foliar desiccation and a thinning of the bark.
With high temperatures (above 25 ° C), it is recommended to spray the ground and the canopy.
The only exception is spring: in this period the tree will benefit from a sunny position by growing more vigorously and producing more abundant and smaller leaves.
In winter we place the pot in a sheltered area because the roots are sensitive to frost.
In spring, irrigation should not be excessive: the elongation of the branches and internodes would be accentuated. In summer, however, we must not skimp, when the ground is dry. We pour water repeatedly so that even the deep layers become wet.
They must always be light. On a young tree it is best to let it develop freely. Later, when the secondary branches have lignified, it is cut leaving only two buds: this will stimulate the thickening of the foliage. On mature specimens we intervene with the bud closed by making some topping: we will shorten the internodes and stimulate the development of the lower buds. Important cuts always require the use of mastics to avoid ugly scars.
They must be carried out with aluminum from mid-summer onwards, when a partial lignification has already occurred: in this way we will not damage the bark.
It is recommended to use specific products for slow release bonsai, to be distributed in late winter (March) and mid-summer (August).
We proceed towards April, before the vegetative restart. Young specimens usually repot in alternate years, but it is also possible to do it every year. Afterwards, however, the ideal timing is every 3-4 years. It does not suffer from radical pruning which can (indeed, must) be quite drastic, eliminating even half of the system.
For the new soil you can opt for a normal product for green plants, rich in organic matter.