Chinese Quince Fusion 1

When I first saw the the peeling bark on this tree I knew I had to have one. This tree belongs to Alice, a friend of my uncle Pete’s. One day last October while my wife Michelle and I were visiting, Pete took us over to meet Alice at her 1840’s farmhouse in Arlington, VA. Alice graciously gave us a tour of her grounds and the latin botanical names of all her trees and shrubs just rolled off her tongue. We were truly impressed with her horticultural knowledge. Our final stop was her 40 year old Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis) where she gifted 6 large quince fruit to my wife. Back at home my wife made quince jelly and saved the seeds for me which I promptly planted in a seed flat.

This is the seed flat as it looked in the middle of May 2012. Several seedlings were already 5 inches tall and the roots were already pushing through the bottom of the tray. It was time to repot, however, I had another idea. Why repot when I could tie the seedlings directly to the frame and bypass 1 year of growth in a pot?

I also had another idea for the frame. A reader had said he used chicken wire for his trunk fusion. I had a little chicken wire left over from a fence I built to protect my seedlings from an infestation of large rats with furry tails that some people call squirrels. This frame is only 3 inches tall and after the seedlings reach this height I will use them to support each other and give me more flexibility in shaping the trunk. The chicken wire is easier to handle than the galvanized mesh I had used on previous projects but has many fewer connection points to tie the seedlings to. In the future I will probably stick to the mesh.

I began tying 1 seedling to the frame and realized that this would take forever so I switched to 2 at a time, still too slow. So I finally went with 3 at a time and stuck with that. I tied at the base and once more about 2 inches up. Notice how I angled the seedlings. I want to put significant movement in the trunk for an informal upright style.

Here is the finished assembly. Kind of looks like a clump of produce from the farmers market doesn’t it?

I immediately planted this clump in the ground on top of a 1 foot square plastic tile so the roots would spread outward instead of downward. The plan is to let the seedlings grow this year and when the tree goes dormant begin tying the seedlings to shape the trunk. I had 45 seedlings left over that I potted up and will assemble for a trunk fusion next spring. I will plant them side by side for a direct comparison of the effectiveness this technique.

Update 3/3/2013

Quince1 Last year instead of potting up Chinese Quince seedlings to grow for a year I attached them directly to a frame. Since they were only a few inches tall I could only attach them at the bottom of the frame. After one year of growth they are ready to be fully attached to the frame. As you can see I planted this project in the ground and dug it up so I could work standing up. A lot easier than crawling on the ground. Also notice that I planted on a red plastic tile to force the roots to grow laterally instead of straight down. The tile also made it easier to dig up.

Quince2 Here is they tree after I tied it to the frame. There are lots of gaps here so it will take a few years to fill in and close the gaps. The apex is about 6 inches tall. This method of assembly is probably not as good as using 1 year old whips that have established root systems. I potted about 40 seedlings and they have grown much quicker, some as tall as 3 feet. I will assemble those in the next week or two.

Japanesemaple1 Here are the Japanese Maple seedlings that I attached to a frame last year just like the Chinese Quince above.

Japanesemaple2 Here they are after being tied to the frame. The apex is 6 inches tall. These seedlings grew about the same rate as the 40 seedlings I potted up. I will assemble those soon after the Chinese Quince.

I don’t think I will use this assembly method again. It seems to offer no advantage over waiting a year for seedlings to grow. Attaching individual seedlings is easier and they can be pulled together tighter with smaller gaps between the seedlings.

I will keep trying to tweek the assembly process on all my projects to learn and share with you.

Update 4/4/2014

Quince 1 bareroot

With the first Chinese Quince fusion project I used seedlings that were about 1 month old. Instead of potting them up individually and growing for one year, I tied them directly to the frame. This did not work out too well. The seedlings had not yet developed enough root and as you can see many died leaving large gaps.

Quince 1 growtray

I used one year old Quince seedlings to fill in the larger gaps. Notice that the one year old seedlings are significantly larger than the 2 year old seedlings that I originally used. A well developed root system gives the seedlings a much better chance of survival and promotes quicker growth.

I used grafting tape on top to take pressure off the twist ties which often break in a stiff wind.

Have fun!

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