Cotoneaster Franchetii

This tree started life as a weed. i.e. a self seeded shrub at the bottom of an Escallonia hedge. It had two large trunks which were cut right back before digging out. What was left was potted in a container and left for many years. I started to train it about 7 years ago and had a go at carving the stumps about 5 years ago. I have futtered with it on and off since then.

I returned to it mid summer this year (2011) and was disappointed to find that the exposed timber was very soft and was rotting at soil level. I treated it with a dose of Ronseal wood hardener and when I had a look at it today I found that the surface of the timber is still a little spongy. I have no idea what is happening under the soil.

This is she viewed from what I have more or less treated as the front. The pot is a bespoke design commissioned from Bangor Dairies some years ago. They are very rare and much sought after. Although the tree sits well in this pot I am considering replacing it with a suitable alternative in the Spring if I can find one. Has anyone seen Peter Snart about the place?

Detail of the deadwood

There is an interesting long root/secondary trunk  riding down the back of the tree

View of the back of the tree

I have given the deadwood another heavy coat of wood hardener. Still wet in this pic but it will dry and dull down. The shine can be removed by rubbing with fine sandpaper or wet and dry.

Although this is a fairly large leafed shrub I think the thick trunk and deadwood area tend to make it quite acceptable as a bonsai. Others of course may disagree.


Spring 2012 and this tree is showing definite signs of new spring growth and so it is time for the long overdue repot. It is quite a traumatic experience to dispose of the old pot.

I was pleasantly surprised with the root mass. There is a large deadwood area but the following shots show the roots are not all emerging from the one spot. I think this  may help keep the deadwood in the future. The deadwood has suffered from rot in the past but has been heavily treated with wood hardener.

These are not the best shots I’ve ever taken. I was too close with the lens but they show that there are plenty of roots at both sides of the tree. they were growing under the tree and provided a kind of cushion that the tree sat on in the training pot. If this is replicated and the tree raised slightly so that the deadwood area is raised out of the soil a little this might help keep it. In any case I treated underneath the tree with more wood hardener. This was not ideal as the tree was wet after the bare rooting but I left it as long as possible before finishing the re-pot. We will see if this has helped stem the rot.

This is the repot with the tree repositioned to show off the interesting aerial root and some deadwood. It now needs some branch extension to balance the image from this viewing angle but I think it works quite well. I have lowered the apex about an inch or so but I think it probably needs lowered a little more.

UPDATE 12/5/12

The story so far

I think all will agree that some trees in an individual collection give more satisfaction and pleasure than others. This little tree is the one for me just now. I ended last year with very low expectations of this tree having treated it as little more than a weed up until then. But now that it is in full leaf I like it very much.

Because the tree has been given a new front at the last re-potting the lower branches need to lengthen to give a better image.

I am just hoping that I will be able to preserve the deadwood over the years. Probably will need to keep up my supply of wood hardener


Update July 2012

Cotoneaster franchetti July 2012

Up to date photo July 2012 showing extension growth.

Update Feb 2013

As my Cotoneaster Franchetti starts to emerge from winter dormancy I thought it was worth a pic in the bright spring sunshine.

Full Tree

The  tree has come through the winter well and probably needs a light pruning in a few places. I want to try to increase the width of the foliage at the base and obviously increase the ramification so it will be interesting to see what the coming season produces. I still think that the tree is a bit tall but I shall wait and see what effect a wider foliage base has on the overall image before reducing the height.

Although this tree will never be a specimen of any note I have grown to like it very much.

10 Responses to Cotoneaster Franchetii

  1. bonsology says:

    That looks great! I think the most satisfying part of growing bonsai is how each tree tells a story. Especially this one, no wonder you are so satisfied. After almost losing it and nursing it back it has really shown you the benefits of your hard work. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if it will bloom and berry this fall for you considering all the shock it’s been through.


    • Hi there, thanks for your kind remarks. There are already a few berries on the tree and it continues to thrive. I deliberately cut most of the early flower heads off this year to conserve the tree’s energy to allow it to get back to full strength. I am really pleased with it.


  2. bonsology says:

    Are the berries red? I’m trying to find a cotoneaster species in my area that has red berries so far my attempts have been unsuccessful. The current species I have now I think yields black berries which are still nice but not as vibrant. I doubt mine will bloom this year considering I just hacked it.


  3. The current berries are still green but from memory the do eventually turn red as autumn/fall approaches


  4. Blair Lewis says:

    I think this has a lot of character and is an excellent specimen. Not wishing to be presumptuous but it could be your mix isn’t free draining enough. I the early shots it looks very wet and cotoneasters although having relatively soft wood, are incredibly hardy and can withstand extreme conditions. I tend to use 100% akadama with my cottoneaster which also means I can can control the feeding etc.
    Just trying to be helpful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your comment. I am always open for advice. The pics are a few years old and the tree has progressed nicely since then in an open mix of 50% cat litter and 50% grit. Pretty free draining now. If I get (take) a mo in the next few days I will take a pic or two and post them. Time i got working on the blog again anyway. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Blair Lewis says:

        I’m absolutely baffled why do people use cat litter? What’s wrong with akadama? It’s like having a Ferrari and using cooking oil as a lubricant. Surely it can’t be down to cost as the tree ( in my opinion) is worth hundreds of pounds, it’s really lovely and a credit to any collection. Is it a case of penny wise, pound foolish? OR, am I missing something here. Like you said, I’m also always open to advice and only a fool feels that they cannot learn any more.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Blair, Evidently much of the Akadama available in the UK today is not of the quality it once was. It comes with a lot of dust, breaks down very quickly and yes it is expensive. If cat litter was an unacceptable substitute then your comment is valid. Truth is that it is an excellent substitute. It is relatively dust free and more importantly does not break down in the pot even after many years. This therefore extends the period between re-potting. Most trees like it, in my very limited experience there are none that don’t and it is very acceptable for trees in development. For showing trees etc the top layer of cat litter can be scraped away and replaced with a fine layer of Akadama etc. In any event most people cover the surface of a show tree with moss so that’s not really an issue. Finally it is significantly less expensive and very much suits my pocket. If you haven’t tried it already I suggest you do and make your own assesment of its worth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Blair Lewis says:

        Ok, I’ll bend the knee to you. In spring I have some 20 odd trees to repot ( bought a load of new trees this year) many of them have a large proportion of soil in then and I’ve been patiently waiting to repot. I generally use pure akadama on deciduous and 50/50 akadama and kiyru on pines, junipers etc. There are some that im growing on so I’ll start trying the litter mix with them.
        You recommended a particular brand on your blo, could you remind me please. I tend to avoid using grit as it is so laborious preparing it. Washing, drying,shifting, at least with akadama you only have to sift and grade which is relatively simple to do a bag over 2 or 3 days. I also find grit too cold in a mix and when it freezes takes ages to melt therefore not doing e roots and favours.

        I also tend to use pelleted chicken feed as a booster especially on developing trees, with green dream and bio gold on ones that need more refinement. This year I tried rape seed cakes from Kaisen bonsai, not that impressed. Many years ago, there was an article by Michael Persianno in bonsai focus about super feeding which was very interesting with pretty spectacular results. Worth reading if you can download it.
        Thanks for the advice, I’m glad you understand that I wasn’t being derogatory just baffled and confused as it goes against everything I’ve been taught over the lady 45 years!
        Be well and happy autumn


        Liked by 1 person

      • Blake Lewis says:

        Cotoneaster photos

        Sent from my iPad with care

        B Lewis

        Liked by 1 person

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