Japanese Maple Bonsai Repotting

This tree was desperate for a repot. The soil had broken down and watering was extremely difficult last season. My Japanese Maple ‘beni-chidori’ bonsai, imported from Japan must be repotted before health issues get bad.

I have to remove the muddy akadama searching for intact soil particles. Then replant the bonsai into fresh substrate. Spring is the perfect timing for bonsai repotting, this Japanese Maple is just coming out of dormancy.

Acer palmatum ‘beni-chidori’ has pink spring foliage, fading to light green through summer, and pink again in autumn/fall before the leaves drop. It is a vigorous grower and makes a beautiful bonsai tree.

Also an update from the wedge cut experiment on the Fuji Cherry.

I’m going to be reporting this imported Japanese maple bonsai I’ve also got an update on the Fuji cherry wedge cut experiment that I did last year when I took ownership of this tree in the spring of 2019 the akadama that it’s currently in had already broken down and it was badly due for a report unfortunately though it was in full leaf and repotting wasn’t possible at that time I happen to go to the greenhouse and noticed that we were in this state so we’ve caught it at just about the right time so the tree isn’t tied into the pot but let’s just see how firmly oh it’s not firmly wedged in at all we can take it out very easily and we do have some root growth okay so this tree has already got a shallow root system but even so I’m gonna start by pulling off this top layer just to see what we’ve got near the surface in terms of thicker roots there’s very little in the way of friable soil so far it’s all pretty much mush broken down we had a a complete loss of drainage through the soil otherwise known as percolation Nogueira Fonda as a structural root yeah there we go don’t have to come down any further from the top now we’ve identified the locations of those structural roots and we’ve started to get into some finer feeder roots down underneath again I’m gonna work some of this soil out trying to maintain a flat base there’s already flat sand at the angle we wanted it so I’m just trying to take off the same layer the same thickness throughout go back some of these roots in the action with the chopstick is quite gentle I’m not tearing through any roots here just trying to tease them out so I can see what we’re working with I’ve got a spar underneath to know that a there’s no friable soil down here and B there’s not that lot of root either I started hitting some finer roots so I’m going to stop at the bottom I know I’m gonna come around the sides and release some of these circling roots then I’ll make a decision about whether I’m actually going to completely bare root this one get rid of all that mush and start again from fresh that’s a distinct possibility so just very carefully tease out these the roots around the sides going in between these structural roots to start with as we didn’t have some fine feeder roots come from the ends of them we want to maintain them wherever possible don’t want to be ripping through with the chopstick any cuts that we made I’d rather were conscious educated cuts rather than just coming in with the chopstick and yanking whatever’s in my way there’s one or two thicker circling roots here just near the surface attached to this piece I don’t wanna rip that piece off Twenties the root out a little bit so that we can see where it’s where it’s heading off to again we’re hitting some circling routes in this area I got the tree out from the greenhouse and then put it by the back door of the workshop took the dog out and it started raining so I’ve been left with this absolute mud bang I just I simply can’t wait any longer to report this tree if I only repot one tree this year it has to be this one so we’re doing it now I’m gonna need to clean the camera and everything by the time I finished this I’ve taken it back a little bit further than I anticipated underneath the soil is completely broken down there’s not a fat lot of root underneath here there’s no actual benefit to maintaining any kind of core of untouched roots down there so I am gonna make the commitment to completely bare rooting and we’ll get this set up for success all right let’s take it outside now and I’ll give it a good wash there’s still a bit of daylight so as long as I’m quick I’ll still be able to see what I’m doing it was at this point that he realized that getting a white work surface for practising bonsai would be a bad idea with the roots nice and clean we can get a really good look of what’s going on I’ve got a nice foot a nice nebari on on them in the making we’ve got a bit of circling but nothing major no really big thick nolle pieces going round and round okay let’s come underneath if you’ve got a couple of stubs under here let’s clean those up okay take that lump out nope cutters would be the better tool for this but but these branch cutters are what I use for routes so these will do the job so we’re directly under the trunk at the moment so anything that’s here isn’t really necessary bringing back any of this stuff is just going to help to direct the trees energy into the nebari that wasn’t very clean-cut there guess but much better always striving for clean cuts okay that’s looking good underneath I could remove more if I wanted to but I don’t want to simply because I don’t need to you and also if we leave some of those finer pieces that are under there it’s going to help the health of the tree which wasn’t amazing last year and maybe we’ll be able to do a bit of work in the nebari just to continue to improve that and drive that forward so I’m really not thrilled with these structural roots here and here that have been butted up to the edge of the pot for now I’m going to leave those because I’ve spotted a couple of issues over here so we’ve got one two three nice surface roots underneath we’ve got a couple of pieces down here so we’ve removed that piece there that’s going to improve that area we’ve also got a fork yeah I don’t know how well you can see but there’s a root one root on top of the other so I’m going to come underneath again okay perfect okay so in this area we’ve just got the surface roots now instead of three eighths on top of each other I have my prune these back I need to leave something there I think I’m not confident in cutting back to nothing so hopefully by pruning these roots we may stimulate some roots to come from the side I don’t know if we will again just going to prune back these weird awkward roots just a little this one does have something to cut back to but at this stage I’ll just be happy to transition any strength back to that before I make the cut and then in this area we’ve got some roots underneath coming off at weird angles and then where we’re circling a bit underneath and back to side root they stick a root it’s a bit low really got some of these roots off that are sideways prune backs not these strong bits and again hope to hope to transition this big long piece can come out it’s not that all sorts of weird angles those roots are coming from underneath and going sideways and I’m gonna come back cut back the the sideways bits for this for this root pruning so that we’re pointing that way we’re still coming from underneath which isn’t ideal but at least we’re no longer splaying out too far to the sides so we’re going downwards then let’s let’s take that off completely so this this root here it’s coming off its it’s coming off to the side there but I’d like I don’t really want to prune any material off this one I’d like it to try and pick up some of the strength from some of the thicker areas catch up with them okay so that’s the extent of the root pruning don’t get me wrong still I’m very aware that there’s quite a few floors in the base of this tree but at this stage with the health not being amazing with this tree that’s as far as I’m gonna take it I want to make some incremental improvements rather than coming all in and come in all guns blazing and then hope for the best I think making incremental improvements gives me the confidence that it’s going to be okay while progressively moving the tree forward I think that’s more my style is to perhaps play it a little conservatively I don’t know you might disagree whether I’ve played it conservatively in terms of pot choice I’m going to put it back into this training container I’m going to position it in such a way that some of these thicker roots have a bit more room to grow and a bit more room to maneuver so we don’t continue to perpetuate this the latter will spread from the cut ends and then the next time i repot will hopefully be able to address the these spreading roots a bit better let’s get some tie down sorted [Music] [Music] can reuse the old mesh this time I’m going to use two pieces and it’ll be a lot simpler first I’ll just get my corners get my corner set up one in and then the second one in my face bring it down nicely you check we’re not crossed over sing us get the aeration layering and a single layer of my tomb a sized or show him of the small grade or show him or to me or whatever you want to call it with braids akadama and then I want to make a nice mound in the center I don’t come too deep this time do you need to make sure that we’ve got enough there to to fill in any spaces underneath the trunk they get this wire into position first it’s gonna be a bit tricky but I’m gonna thread it through there teams are underneath any surface roots yeah under this area and the one that are gonna be joining tus here let’s really look where are we so this guy is gonna come underneath here underneath these roots let’s me don’t want to damage anything bit fiddley this not gonna lie I’m fine where you turn away and then that can stay there and then on the other side similar this is where strategy and I come under the as best as I can weave it in and out of these roots that’s the route that I’m going to tie to it’s beneath the level of the of the nebari again this one T’s this one into position on the other side of it that one needs to come up here don’t understand it there for a sec that’s good now that we’ve got our tie-downs in the right position it’s going to carefully tuck any wayward roots took them down keep them keep them in the pot it’s gonna make life difficult if we have to tuck them in afterwards all right how the roots looking right okay good right now I want to try and make sure that there’s a bit of space for these thickest surface roots give them a bit of room to breathe and hopefully we can the pruning we’ve done will hopefully stimulate some adventitious roots further back maybe maybe not we’ll see so I position the trunk carefully to avoid butting up too much and once we’re in that looks good we’ve got a gap of space gap of space gap of space okay so now let’s just bed that down it’s a little bit wobbly but we generally okay let’s run these wires a touch there right this route now I can go back to where it wants to be we can just tighten down did this right over here I just below the blow the soil line and then this side a little bit more awkward I’m going for that route I mean maybe that wire just a little bit attached to the wire very careful here it’s not the ideal location to be tying to underneath this bundle of roots is a thicker one that we’ve come across these roots are hampering the tie down so gonna have to be really careful there just like that okay so I’m noting the position of the roots as as good as my memory will allow and then I’m gonna feel just working the soil down underneath that trunk just roughly at first I want to say roughly I don’t mean ramming it in there like I’m trying to kill it roughly as in approximately trying to get the soil underneath those thick structural roots coming in from the sides here’s a mythic a chopstick at the moment just to as much soil in place as quickly as possible it’s not going to be perfect this moment geez some soil among those roots there and then it’s my really fine one my really fine chopstick now we’re just really working soil into the hollows underneath that trunk set there we go there’s a hollow this empty section so I could unpacked until they’re trying to remember where that so get right into the trunk here just feel it gradually filling up pour wax on this soil to get them to bury out and some of these stragglers just cut them back as they’re pointing directly upwards you don’t need them anyway okay so one of these bits of route here they’re going to be they’ll be protected by the the surface dressing and now now we come with the moss top dressing that’s going to keep everything nice and healthy near the surface keep this keep any of those exposed surface roots moist just a light dusting as I can still see the soil through the moss I’m not you know I’m not I don’t layer it on I use Ryan Neal’s approach to top dressing check it out on Mirai or on the rise YouTube channel former I live highly recommended I’m not sponsored by the way I’ve been a member a fully paying member for RIM okay this year’s on the power side water it in a few people have been asking for updates on the coach I know my Fuji cherry that I did a wedge cut experiment on ahead of doing a trunk chop so I thought I’d just do a quick update as you can see we’re in flower which is I don’t know two three maybe four weeks earlier than last year which was April although last year was late actually did the wedge cut on the wrong side of the trunk I did it facing away from the branch that I was cutting back to I should have actually taken the wedge out of the same side of the trunk that the branch I’m cutting back to his coming from and the reason for that I now know is because this branch will be photosynthesizing and resources will be coming past the lower section of the wedge and driving the healing in that section instead because I’ve got the wedge on the wrong side of the trunk what’s happened is we’ve had healing at the top and the sides of the wedge cut but no healing at the bottom and it’s the bottom of the wedge cut this the in part because that’s the bit that’s going to remain once we complete the chop the cut was roughly here and the callus formation has been really good when I initially did it I used oil to dress the wound and with a sample size of one I can’t say for sure if the foil has enhanced the amount of cows that was produced but I was under the impression that cogent oh my is a slow healing species so I was just happy to get that much callus formation in a single growing season the wound is now dressed with cut paste and that’s because as the growing season drew on the amount of callus that formed pushed the foil off of the wound didn’t form a good seal anymore I tried to reapply some new foil but because of the shape of the wound it was impossible to get it in there securely with this species being vulnerable to fungal issues I decided to use cut paste that would make a better seal I think moving forward I’ll definitely be using this technique again but I’ll do it on the right side obviously there’s a lot of work to be done in the branch structure but we will will let the tree bounce back from this operation first and then we’ll come back later this one’s going to go back into the greenhouse now hopefully it’s going to continue to thrive and develop nicely so until next time take care and thanks for watching

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