How to Repot A Bonsai

Hello there paper Priya from herons Bonsai here it's potting season again On Heron so it's about the end of February beginning of March so we Thought we'd put together a quick video For some people that are attending a Workshop here And uh this is sort of more a memory jog For them because there's quite a lot That you could cram into a quick Workshop on repotting So the video is really as a an aid Memoir for those people but we thought It might be interesting for other people To see as well So repotting is quite vast subject it Varies from species to species so There's quite a lot that could go into This but I'm just going to try and cover Some of the basics and the fundamentals As I see it from from what I've learned As I've been on the nursery over the Last seven years or so so Um So with repotting the areas that we're Going to go through are going to be soil Soil types Uh Soul mixes Um the reasons why we use different soil Mixes So that's a probably the primary part of Our Workshop we'll also be going through Uh the tools that may be useful for you To use so we'll be covering tools we'll

Also be talking about pots Which pots to use and how to use them Whether to use Ceramics whether to use Mica whether to use plastic pots and so On we'll also be talking about the most Important thing probably is when to Repot and why to repot and then we'll be Talking about the Aesthetics of Repotting so those are the areas that I'm hoping to cover In the workshop and hopefully this video As I say will a act as an aid Memoir for Them so one of the questions we quite Often get asked at herons is when's the Best time to repot when should I repot So let's start there Um With regard to repotting there's Primarily two reasons why you would want To repot your trees one will be uh for a Minute from an Aesthetics point of view So from your styling point So if you're trying to maybe put a Bigger tree into a smaller pot or if You're changing its orientation you'll Be looking at repotting uh within that Context and the other is um is about the Health of the tree so quite simply Um what we're looking at when we're Looking to repot trees is to just to Check to make sure that they are Basically getting the uh most uh amount Of care that they can get so seeing as We're going to be dealing with

Aesthetics a little bit later when we're Actually doing the repotting of a couple Of trees I thought I'd start with a Health of trees so basically what we're Looking at is the root structure and Whether the root system has still got Enough room within the pot to grow Healthily So personally what I tend to do with Trees that I'm working on at home is I Take the tree out of the pot each year And just check the tree I smell it I Look at the condition of the roots and I'm looking for things like the smell of Of rotting Roots obviously it's not a Good thing so that would suggest that we Need to repot and probably put it into a Better soil mix if the pot if the tree Is actually starting to lift itself out The pot where there is so much root mess That the whole thing is starting to lift Out of the pot that's obviously another Good reason to repot obviously the whole Point of bonsai is to keep the trees as Small as possible so repotting from that Perspective is obviously quite important As well so essentially what I look for Is if the roots are so tightly packed They are no longer able to pick up Oxygen water and new nutrients from the Soil mix that they're in So those are the reasons as I see it why You would want to repot I'm sure there's Probably others as well but those are

The ones that we're probably going to Cover in the workshop so soil mixes That's the next area that we'll be Looking at different soils mixes are Used for different trees but essentially The way I look at it is that there is a Balance between water retention and Nutrient retention and drainage so we're Playing with those sorts of elements and Different mixes are used for different Things there are also a few things like Huger for example which actually is used At the base of big trees where the roots Are likely to be compressed so there are Some structural Aggregates as well but The primary ones that you'll come across Will be akadama a traditional Clay fired clay that is imported for us From Japan So in Japan they quite often plant their Trees neat in this but quite often They'll also mix it with two other Things which would be pumice and also Volcanic grit volcanic rock So those are the sort of three Constitute constituents of the soil that You're getting Most Japanese Potted trees but because we're in the UK Our needs are different so we also use a A compost which is essentially a very Fine bark mix and it will be different Ratios of of these things And the final saw that you might come Across is what's called kanuma and

Kanuma is pretty much as you can see From the picture on here a soil type That we use almost exclusively with Azaleas So those will be the soils that we'll be Covering in the course So next we'll be looking at tools your Best friend when you re-pit potting is Probably a sieve to severe Aggregates So sibs are very very useful Root hooks Sickles very very useful for getting Trees out of the pot particularly when They're pop bound Root pruning scissors Chopsticks Rakes And little uh pots for back filling with Soil So those have to be the main items that Will cover and we'll be using those when We do the actual demonstration just to Show you their their usage So next uh is pops we'll be looking at Various different types of pots and what They can offer you from the point of View of enhancing your bonsai So there's a variety of different pots a Variety of different makes comes from Different countries so this one is a Very nice Japanese pot very good glaze Quite thin walls quite a lot lighter Than uh the equivalence that would come From China for example

This one is a pot that's come from China So thicker wood quite a lot heavier And then we've also got Mica pots as Well which are a type of plastic but Pretty much indestructible And then finally we've got a range of Training pots which are just Straightforward plastic poles So each aspect of a pot can enhance Different aspects of your tree so color Is very important if you've got a tree That has a very nice foliage you might Want to enhance that so using a glazed Pot that's colored would be very very Helpful if you've got a tree and you Don't want to detract Too Much from the Actual tree itself because it's very Very good quality you'll probably use an Unglazed pot So there are also pots with designs on Them so again you can use this to Enhance your tree And then you've also got the training Pots that you're just growing trees on In until such time that you can get them Into a nicer pot Even things like the lips on the on the Pot can have a an effect on the way a Person a person perceives a tree so if You imagine a dado rail in a Victorian House or a picture rail in a house they Are horizontal lines and they're used to Shrink the height of the room so in the Victorian house in the UK you might have

An 18-foot ceiling if you walked into it It would look very very tall and not Very cozy so what they do is they put Dado rounds down picture routes down and They shrink the height of the room and That has a similar effect when you're Using a horizontal line on a pot so this Has got one on the lip this one's Actually got one on the lip and also one Halfway down the pot so this will have The effect of tricking the eye into Shrinking the subject that you've got Also the angle of the pots is important If you've got angles if you've got a Flared pot that goes out at an angle Sort of like this maybe more than this Even maybe then what that will do is it Will attempt to emphasize the width of The tree so you can you can trick the Eye into making the tree look a lot Wider than it is by using a pot that has Got slanting sides on it so each pot Will have its merits Each pot will bring out different Aspects of your bonsai tree You could talk forever about the Different designs but really the best Way to find out which tree looks best in Which pot is actually just to try them Out so we encourage people at herons to Bring a tree that they want to repot and Just try it out in a few pots and if it Looks right to you then it probably is Right yeah so everybody in art will have

Their own view on what is the best Aspect of the tree and it's down to the Individual to choose which way they or Which aspect of the tree they decide to Emphasize So uh I these are my tools so not as Clean or as probably as nice as the ones You just saw That are available from our shop but Exactly the same tools here so I'm going To be using those just to demonstrate Repotting this dysojo Maple so this one Came in from Japan I think last year it Has come in in the akadama that it Originally came in so this is just pure Neat akadama at the moment so we Normally try to get them out of the Academa as quick as possible but there's So many trees on the nursery it's not Always easy to do that But this is the one I think we're going To repot one of the reasons why I put This up is it's one of the good Indications that your tree needs Repotting is that you can see the roots Are starting to grow out of the base of Your pot so that's usually an indication That you may have a tree that needs to Be repotted so what we'll do now is We'll just take this out of its pot so I'm just going to cut the wire that's Holding the Tree in And lift it out of its pot There you can see

This almost certainly is a tree that we Would be looking to repot Okay lots and lots of fibrous Roots it's Very healthy It doesn't smell rotten or anything like That at all so all in good condition I'm Not not particularly concerned about Anything there other than the fact that It probably just is time to repot this Tree so if this tree had been Particularly tight in there which does Happen or if you've got a pot that Curves in And bought bellies out then your little Root Hook is a really good way of Cutting through some of those finer Roots on the on the outside of your pot So that is what you're using your sickle For so the sicker will be just to loosen Those grooves so that you can get it out Without having to damage your pot in any Way Okay but on this occasion we didn't need That so that's all good so I'm probably Going to put this straight back into This pot but we'll pop it to one side For the moment So the first thing you want to do when You're repotting a tree is that you want To start from the middle of the Underside and you want to start teasing Out your roots Towards The Edge so your starting from the

Middle working your way out The reason for this is that at least in Japan anyway they the the ideal nabari Is considered to be equally distanced Radial Roots all going out in that sort Of pattern so you you'll want to be Raking your roots into that pattern so As they fatten up over the years they're All going to be in the right position so That's not only true on the top it's Also true on the bottom because some of These roots over time might end up being The roots that actually end up becoming To come into the surface so what you Want to do is you want to take your rube Hook I'm just going to swap sides Because I am right handed so take your Root Hook from the middle and just start Teasing out gently So you want to try and Get a fair amount of this soil out Some people will take all the soil out Some people will put leave quite a lot On there I probably go for something in Between the two but basically you want To start raking those rows out towards The side okay so I'm going to do that And I'll come back to you when uh we've Got something else to add so you can see I'm almost there I've sort of gone Around the whole tree teasing out the Roots into that radio orientation I'm Now going to work on the top and I'm Going to do exactly the same thing

Just turning the tree towards me so that I'm always pulling towards me And just gradually Put in all of those roots if I had a Root that was here and I Pulled it from here I'd obviously be Wrapping it round the tree that's called Girdling which is something that a Doesn't look particularly nice and B Isn't particularly healthy for the tree I mean ultimately it could if it was Left to go Silly it could actually even end up Strangling the tree so it's quite Important not to have good girdling Roots So all I'm doing is exactly the same as I did on the bottom Teasing those roots out in a radial Fashion So you can use a root hook you can also Use a chopstick Chopsticks are very Handy for getting in and just loosening Up the soil Very soft and gentle way of separating The Roots out from the soil so I'm a big Fan of the Chopstick not everybody is But I am I quite like them so I can do That but you can also use these This also comes with a little spatula on The end of it which again It gets jammed into the pot good and Proper you can use this to lever Your tree out of the pot

So quite a handy tool I must be honest I Don't use it very often but it is quite Amazing Okay just bringing and as I'm going I'm Also looking for any major routes that I Might want to move so this one here you Can see is coming straight towards me But would actually be much better If it if its orientation was out in this Direction so I'm going to free that Route up Enough losing Root Which is the feeding and then I can take This route and then I can position it Where I think it needs to go So I'll probably put it in something Like that I'm also uncovering some of the bigger Roots as I'm going It's working between the different tools Whichever makes the job most simple So hopefully you can see on the camera That I've now Teased out these roots In that radial fashion I was talking About And now we're going to look at trimming Some of these roots so similar to uh Pruning The crown of the tree If you prune The Roots then they will Tend to put out more new roots and what We're looking for is all these nice fine

Roots because those are the feeder Roots Those are the ones that we want to be Really healthy because that's what's Supporting the tree whilst it's in in a Small pot So if you've got any uh similar with uh Pruning the upper the crown of the tree If you've got any roots that are poking Straight up now's an opportunity to just Snip those out now this tree doesn't Have many of those but there's a few Here that may be Maybe need to come out So just a couple So this one's pretty good Similarly with the roots on the Underside anything going straight down You want to be removing those as well we Haven't got any on this one because These have been repotted Quite regularly by looks of things but If you had Obviously with a Tap Root you would have Removed that already but if you have any Other roots that are growing down you Can get rid of those or you can Put them into the orientation that you Want but basically any big roots that I Don't really need I'll probably just Snip out of here Just leaving those smaller finer roots So now with different species of tree You can safely remove a varying amount Of root without causing too much stress

To the tree but it is species dependent So I'm not going to say that you should Do it all at 30 percent of the root mess Or 40 or 50 you're going to need to look Up the individual trees and see what Amount of root you can take off safely Without stressing the tree out too much I haven't ever seen anybody say that you Can Um take out less than 30 so generally if I'm a bit unsure I think in the terms of Well 30 it's okay I might be able to Take 50 out but I'm going to stick to 30 Anyway because I I sort of really want To just keep my trees healthy or keep The trees healthy and also if you don't Really need to prune them then you don't Really need to bother but on this Occasion I'm gonna prune some of these Trees so I'm I'm just going round and I'm just removing Some of the longer Shoots So what I'm looking for is a nice flat Base so that when I put it back in the Pot it's going to sit nice and flat So that all of the areas all the roots Are going to be in contact with the soil So I'm using root pruning scissors here Which Um I have to say these are probably About the cheapest ones you can probably Buy But for root pruning they they do the

Job and I wouldn't want to put an Expensive pair of Japanese Scissors into soil because you're going To blunt them quite quickly but it Always is better to use the best tool That you can get The job So it's about a half fit [Music] These have already done almost uh Probably a few hundred trees already This year so they're getting a little Bit blunt so I might have to sharpen These but Give you an idea so there we are we've Now We've now got now Pruned and And raped In the Bowery are ready for it to go Back into its pot So it's always a good opportunity to Clean your pots Um So I'll just give you a quick sweep Around if I had a treat that was Diseased I'd probably use a very weak Solution of Jay's fluid which is a Antibacterial product that we can get in The UK and that would just clean out any Bugs that are in there but this tree is Very healthy I can't see any uh I can't See any indications of pests or anything Like that or or any rot so I don't think

You need to do it on this occasion so Now we're just going to prep this pot so This pot has two drainage holes in the Bottom so what we need to do to stop our Medium from falling out the bottom is to Actually place Um Some mesh over those holes like that so I'm just going to do that quickly Again different people do different ways Um I think that even if you can't see it It's still nice to do things nice so I Quite like making Twirly Staples like this And then I just use that staple Pot like that And then fold over Like that and then that holds that mesh In there nice and tight it's not going Anywhere Same again for this one Just hold that in there with my finger Wants to turn it over And then just lay those two flat Okay So now I'm so when we put a tree in what We want to do is make sure the tree is Secure so that when it gets blown around In the wind It doesn't move too much and start Ripping off all of the new roots that We'll be developing so what we do is we Just use a piece of wire to tie the tree Into the pot

So now we have a fully prepped pot so Now we can have a look at mediums so This is our standard deciduous enzyme Mix that I'm using here and you might be Able to pick out here some of the Aggregates that you were shown earlier On so you've got Academia in here which Is this a little granule there you then Also got uh Volcanic rock there and then the darker Smaller piece you can see is the Composted bark so that's the three main Principal ingredients that we use in our Deciduous mix if this was a pine I would Probably be using something that has Even more drainage so maybe adding some More Kadama to it but for a deciduous tree Our antecidious Bonsai mix is perfect so This is what I'm going to be using So firstly we take our pot And using our scoop we've got metal ones On the nursery but you could also use One of these little plastic ones it Doesn't matter so what we're going to do Is going to put a fine layer of soil At the bottom of the pot nice and level Now because we started in the middle we Started teasing out here there might be And there quite likely will be it's a Slight indentation in the base here so What we're going to do is we're just Going to slightly Mound the soil in the Middle just so that we make sure that we

Get a really good contact with our tree Now this tree came to us like that with Its orientation as that as the front but I personally think if we just turn it Slightly we get a slightly different View so these little adjustments that You'll make yourself as your repotting Can make all the difference To the end end result of your tree so Just because something came in a pot Like that doesn't mean to say it's got a Stain a pot like that you might suddenly Think that maybe the back of the tree is Is your front you know so you can pick And choose it's your choice but on this Occasion I'm just going to put this back In the pot like this I'm gonna make sure I get a good contact By grinding it down And I've just changed the orientation Slightly So instead of it being here I've moved it around to here so I've Probably moved it through something like 20 degrees just because I think that Makes a nicer front you may disagree So what we're looking here is if we get Down a little bit you can see now Different people you have to choose what Height you want to sit your tree in the Pot now different people like their Trees at different heights some people Like them sitting quite low some people Like them sitting quite high up I tend

To probably favor the latter so what I'm Going to probably do is just put a Little bit more soil in here Just to raise this tree up a little bit More So again this is another one of those Aesthetics One of those choices that you will make In for your individually for your tree So that looks better to me Um just probably only maybe a centimeter Higher but I think it just gives a Slightly better view of the nabari now This tree was also potted in the center Of its pot but Asymmetry is quite important in Bonsai Designs so you could move it to one side And then you have to decide whether you Think that actually improves the tree or Not You know or whether you think it Actually in the center is actually the Best way or whether it needs to be this Way Similarly you can tilt it more towards You or further away from you so Orientation of the tree is one of the Great ways simple ways in which you can Really enhance your tree So I quite often use the rule of thirds And something that you see in art and Photography or what's sometimes called The Golden Ratio which is where you do To him to sit things off center so just

To show you not necessarily because I Think this actually looks better because It might actually be better actually as It was but just to show you that it can Be done I'm just going to set that one Off slightly to one side And take our holding wire Pull it as tight as you can and put a Twist in it A few more twists in it And then you can cut off your excess And then just make sure that we've got All of the slack out of this wire You can pull it See there's all this extra slack that we Wouldn't have got and then we can Tighten that down And that's going to hold your tree in Very very firmly Not going anywhere Okay this wire can probably stay on for About six months once the once the trees Established in the pot you actually want To take it off because if you hold the Tree down too much for too long The Roots then start to tend to grow up and Out sole rather than down so it's just Really to help establish the tree Okay So there we have it I think that looks quite nice but [Music] It's it's all down to you it's your tree You you set it up however you like so

Now all I'm doing is back filling with Our chosen medium [Music] So I just put a reasonable sprinkle of Soil around and then again using our Chopstick we're just going to start Working that soil in between the roots Why do we do this some root systems will Happily travel through air spaces air Pockets in the soil but some won't I Don't know which one's a which so I Always err on the side of caution and Make sure that I've got a good contact Between my soil medium and my roots That way you're always going to be right Then It's working that in And you can normally feel When this when the aggregate is firming Up so that's feeling quite firm there But here you can see there is actually Quite a big hole here you can see where All the soil's still falling down so You're just going to keep working that Soil in there Until you get that sense of tension on The end of your chopstick Just working your way around the pot So one thing you do want to ensure when You've repotted your trees is that your Finished soil level is Really quite some way below the lip of The pot you know good centimeter below This is so that when you water your

Plants The water doesn't just then shoot Straight off the top if the soil level Is exactly the same height as the pot Like that you'd water that and the water Would run straight off So make sure you do maintain A gutter I'm not sure what the technical Word is for that but make sure you Maintain That drop Pot And there we have it So Final job is just to Clean up your pot I'll probably pick the dirtiest rag in The place so it's probably not going to Come up very nice but do just tidy up Your Pole You can sometimes get moss Um And lime scale on pots and one of the Ways that you can get rid of those Okay So I'm using these little blocks Um and you just basically lightly rub it Across The area that you're looking to clean up So You can probably see here so just so This is a bit grounding dirt So you can just Rub it off and then wipe it off and then

It takes the pot back to its original Glaze without scratching the glaze All right So here we have the finished repotted Tree So Just spin it around so that you can see And there you have it Repotted de SoJO maple personally I Would tend to steer away from styling a Tree the same year that I've repotted a Tree particularly if I've done a lot of Work on its roots but again that's a Choice individuals make Some people they don't mind proving and Repotting the same same year on the Nursery we quite regularly do it because We don't really have a lot of choice but If you're talking about keeping your Tree as healthy as possible the the real Trick is to try and not stress it out More than you absolutely necessarily Need to so I think trimming the roots or Trimming the crown of the tree in one Season is probably enough So hopefully there might be something in There that jogs the memory of the people That attended the course or something That might be helpful for other people That are looking to repot their trees so Yeah thanks for watching and enjoy your Repotting season [Music] Foreign

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