I have a small pin oak in a small pot thriving since spring in Brooklyn. I would like to keep it and I am thinking about bonsai. I think I need to keep it outside for two years? Should I give it a bigger pot now? It's in a lame pot from a medium size tomato plant from Home Depot. I have no experience with bonsai other than a noted attraction to the art.

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I tried some bonsai techniques on burr oak seedlings (Quercus macrocarpa). The issues I encountered when I tried to achieve a classic bonsai were:

  • leaves did not reduce in proportion to the trunk. If you have a trunk as thick as a straw and leaves as long as your finger it does not look right.
  • trunk did not thicken and look interesting unless a rabbit ate the top in the winter
  • as a deciduous tree it required a cold period so I had to heel them into a trench every fall and dig them out in the spring

I have seen some impressive bonsai that were two feet tall with thick trunks but they were a hundred years old. To get an oak to look good was going to take twenty or thirty years.

Nonetheless you can have fun with it.

  • Provide a sheltered place for the winter with protection from rabbits.
  • I had great success with installing a capillary wick in the root ball that trailed out of the pot into a water feature. No watering problems!

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