Repotting Large Difficult Bonsai Trees

Repotting Large Difficult Bonsai Trees

In this video I repot some larger bonsai trees and show you how I repot them.

Look at the sun shining bright and it’s five o’clock in the evening and it really feels like spring but i’m right in the middle of our bonsai repotting season many of these bonsai maples as you can see are just coming into leaf and this is still the right time to pot some of the maples we usually begin with the deciduous trees first in fact with the maples and then we move on to the evergreen tree.

Video Transcript

It’s another deshojo which is just coming to leaves not all of them need repotting but i’m going to show you some repotting projects which customers bring to us just during the past week gone within the space of six days we’ve had about maybe nine customers and they all brought these big trees to us for repotting and they bring them to us because they are afraid to do it themselves so i’m just going to show you this one in case we miss the opportunity it’s too good an opportunity to miss so if jack can kindly remove the bag and you can see how pot-bound it is this is a typical pot-bound tried maple and trident maples have this very fleshy type of root if you can just tilt it back a little bit you can see it has gone round and round and round so this is a typical pot bound tree it was grown in its japanese trading pot and i don’t think he’s done anything to it so i’ll ask jack to start teasing some of it the secret of repotting some of these quite nice or what i call major semi-major trees is to know how much root to cut that is this trick if you cut too much you can stress the tree if you remove too little then you may have wasted a lot of effort when you could have done a little more so this was obviously in a very small pot the japanese are very fond of growing their trees in small pots so this must have come as an import it’s not my tree he bought it from another nursery but he brings it to me because he trusts me to do it i asked him why didn’t he take it back to the other nurse he said it was either too far away i don’t know why he gave that excuse but you can see how badly in need of repotting this tree is it’s almost like long hair i bet if you stretched it it would be like three foot long or more but of course trident maples have this habit they are extremely vigorous trees so they produce root like this and of course you can keep it pot bound the leaves will get smaller but if you keep it pot on for too long the tree will begin to go downhill and the tree will get progressively weaker and you will get branches dying so from time to time we need to repot so look at that length of route look at all that root look at all that root and there’s some more okay if i asked jack to hold the camera for me i’m going to give it a little tease myself i love doing this and so the outer roots you will find are these soft fleshy roots let me explain to you now these roots if you exposed it to frost they will rot and they will die if you look a bit deeper into the soil you see these brown roots these are more mature roots that i’ve grown in previous years now these roots don’t tend to rot so much and of course you can tell it slide because if you scratch it it’s pure white underneath so those brown boots are the ones that have grown in the previous year and we will continue doing this if you can kindly hold that in so it won’t fall off so it’s knowing how far to go so now let’s cut this this is the fun part cutting this all that can go now i guess this tree was imported from japan not my tree and the japanese like to grow it in pure academia different grades may be fine grade and akadama as i said can be used neat if you are in japan in this country it’s difficult to get away with it on a long term basis so i also take the opportunity to find good nebari so we will also scratch the surface okay let’s twist it right so i can get to this side so there’s a mixture of the brown root and the white root and for some reason the roots always go to the perimeter of the pot that means the edges of the pot they don’t always remain in the center i don’t know why that is but because i think it’s trying to stretch out as far as it can because in nature the trees spread out their roots so it makes the tree stable so that is in the nature of the tree okay rotate it a little more for me so even a tree like this requires certainly two persons to do it so big trees if you’re on your own and you’re not very strong or not very agile it can be a bit of a problem okay a little more foreign look at all that okay let’s get it off that pot because i can’t reach the surface put it on this i just want to scratch the surface now this is where we are trying to find some surface roots to get good nebari good nebari means good surface roots those of you who watch my videos will know that i don’t like using japanese terms because japanese tongues are words that japanese use but bonsai is not just japanese it’s universal it’s more chinese than japanese but okay if you understand what nebari is then well and good but ibari simply means the surface root can i more upright i haven’t come across any surface roots yet usually when these shrines are grown in the ground they have some very thick fat roots and then they chop it hard back and then force it to produce fine roots i still haven’t come across thick roots yet so you see i’ve already found an additional or extra one inch of trunk and that would be the basis of a good root spread spreading outwards see most people when they get trees like that they don’t realize how important it is to get at the base to find the neighborhood now you can see the surface roots this is where the surface roots begin like that okay this way see if this guy were to do his own repotting it would never occur to him to go as low as this i will just show you by taking it law how much more beautiful trunk we have found and more importantly root spread flaring into the side see already we’ve got that much otherwise it was just like that okay more this way so the repotting time is the best time to improve roots i think in some of those earlier videos i try to demonstrate that and a little bit this way this is a heavy-duty hook those multi-pronged thin stainless steel ones are okay for smaller trees but when you’re dealing with big trees you need a more serious root hook now you can see how the roots are spreading into the soil okay more this way so you can see how we’ve got that flare going out that way you see so i’ve improved the nebari no end as i said if this gentleman were to have done it himself it would never occur to him to find a nebari like that it’s beautiful see how the roots are going in like that and like that spreading outwards these small things you can get rid of we got enough root underneath okay that is enough now let’s find the pot the pot he’s decided to get this beautiful yi xing pot yushing is an area in china near shanghai yishing produces the best ceramics in china they produce this beautiful red clay teapots which are very very famous and all these good pots nowadays have these tying holes so this pot apart from the drainage hole have these small tying holes which are for wire so i usually prefer to tie the wire like that crisscross and i’m using here two and a half mil wide because this is a big tree serious tree okay now putting the mesh and i will put a little bit of a sugar in it i can stabilize this sugar is a drainage layer right here now hyuga is not akadama and it’s not kanuma it’s a very dense almost like a type of pumice and the japanese use that really as a drainage here and in particular fines benefit from that so this is sugar so put it out at the base i just put a tiny layer not as sufficient yeah that’s plenty okay and then i will i want to cut this wire off in case i need more and this is our magic mix which is i would say 50 akadama and there is japanese volcanic grit pumice pine bark and a bit of that may be levington type peat or cocoa fiber soil but the bulk of it 50 is akadama so that’s the mixture i use for most of our trees and tridents love this and when i put the soil i always put a little mound little mountain so that i can squash the tree so you bring that tree now so the front is over here it’s like a little twin trunk you see there’s a twin trunk this side and because the tree is slightly that side let me just see position in the pot is quite important so you look at that beautiful flare there okay so if you can use the wire underneath okay and twist it tight and then i can connect it up on this side you can tighten it and then the rest is just putting the soil in and that’s it so that little round training pot was not quite the right part it was only a training pot so this i think to my mind is better proportion for the tree so remember my rule of thumb on most people’s rule of thumb is that the length of the pot is about in this case sixty percent of the height of the tree i think up to seventy percent is even okay and i always say that we tend to use bigger pots than what japanese growers would use japanese growers especially in exhibitions they like using very small pots again everything is relative everything is relative but for the health of the tree i always recommend that a larger pot is more comfortable for the tree even chinese growers those of you who are more observant if you look at the pictures of chinese bonsai or penjing or punking they use bigger pots than the japanese would these are just observations of mine for big trees i don’t bother with the chopstick i saw on someone else’s channel i don’t often watch other people’s channel he was using a chopstick and after that he was using a metal hammer to top tap the pot i’m surprised the pot didn’t even break but i don’t think it’s necessary to do that but again i don’t always say that this is right or this is wrong but it is dangerous to tap the pot with a metal hammer if you can kindly strongly put it on there can you lift it right this this little device of mine i always like because it is absolutely horizontal so i can get a good view of the tree i’m leaving these because i’m going to tie it on so you can see the nebari better how see i’ve teased that much of soil the tree was growing at that level but i’ve scraped it away can you see how the roots are spreading in there so that is how i have produced nebari now there is some excess wire here the reason why i leave it is because i like to bring it around and then tie that up if can dove it can kind of do that for me you can remove this wire or make sure it doesn’t bite the trunk after about six months or nine months but this stabilizes the tree the reason why we tied so that when it is getting established in the pot it doesn’t get knocked out accidentally and then all we do is fine there’s no need to do that tight so you can see the lovely nebari and this tree’s got a beautiful movement there and if he simply keeps it clipped you’ll get a lot of ramifications i could see the branch growing a little longer there but this is a lovely tree with a lot of these gnarled features some people may think it’s a fault but i like it because it looks absolutely natural there you go so we’ve done that one so i hope you’ve enjoyed these repotting exercises this is what we call fairly serious repotting so there you go so here we are in the third week of march and customers keep bringing more and more trees in for repotting this is an old privet which this customer has brought in and it’s grown quite well it’s styled quite nicely and you can see that massive trunk and it was in a cascade pot which was not really suitable and you can see the roots that have come out they’ve used some grains of big akadama so this is good soil the tree is growing well so that was the original pot from which it came out and this is the proposed new pot that we’re going to put it in because the customer wanted a glare spot i will now show you the other tree which he has also brought in it’s a mighty great big i think either an english almost siberian iron the trunk is massive and we’re going to pot it in i think a rectangular pot so we will see how we get on and i’m going to improve it the customers kept it quite well all he’s done is trim the ends so there’s a lot of canopy a lot of ramification so let’s see how we get on with these two trees i’m just going to show you a little trick where you get a very congested root ball like this it doesn’t hurt to cut it with a saw not like slicing a cake but because the roots are going round and round if we just make a cut like this then we don’t have to disentangle the root that much there are all sorts of ways you can improvise for repotting as long as it works we’re just getting rid of roots so whichever way you do it as long as the roots are cut that is okay i’m using one of my old sauce i always emphasize that i never use new sauce because it blunts it but these are blunted saws anyway so they’re very handy i dare say that the roots are really thick in there sometimes you might even need to use an axe or use a big lopper it’s really all about penetrating the roof see that root ball is hard to get if you keep doing that but if you just make a cut there it makes it so much easier to get into that root ball many of these roots have just gone round and round and round see that makes it easier to penetrate really is a very nice tree i don’t like that root i might even consider burying it or taking it off it doesn’t add to the design of the tree so these thickish roots are ideal for propagating at this point you can even use a lopper let’s see if the loppers help at all so it’s really about letting air into the system when it gets congested like this air can never penetrate so all those lumps of root we can try and get out and let me just try the axe so it might seem brutal but sometimes that is the only way you can do it it’s not often that we get a situation like this no need to be nami panty about it so tight give us the big loppers as well so you get the general idea these roots have just been going around year after year so have you seen my big loppers oh just elm roots are almost like fabric the fibers are very hard to get a clean cut so always troublesome dealing with that you see they don’t cut clean once you worked with it you will see look at all that so i want as i said bore you but you get the general drift all those routes we don’t need if you leave it too long this tree will rise out of the pot as well so this is the sort of thing we’re trying to get out so we just have to work away and get all this out stop it so this is the arm in its new pot and it looks quite different beautiful ramification i don’t know whether to take that root off but i think it would have been a bit drastic i think that root needs to be there and this is a tree funnily enough is nice from either side even this side looks nice very natural looking tree obviously just developed from a stump but it just shows what you can make from a stump so that’s another job done [Music] you

You May Also Like