Repotting My Cotoneaster and Gardenia Bonsai, Part 1

Repotting my Cotoneaster Bonsai

A very difficult root base to deal with, one of my most difficult yet!
In part 2, I’ll be repotting my Gardenia.

Hi everyone, nigel saunders here today, i’m going to be taking my gardenia and my cotoneaster, taking them out of the nursery pots and getting them into bonsai soil. Here’S a look at the two plants i’ll be repotting today, my cotoneaster, it’s a cranberry cotoneaster and then my gardenia here both of these plants started out as fairly large nursery stock and i prune them back basically to just a trunk line and then i’ll regrow.

All the branches over the summer, let’s begin the work on them, i’m going to start with the cotoneaster, so i’ll start by getting it out of the pot, so i’ll just squeeze the pot to loosen it up a bit, and here i go so this is a Huge pot, i have no idea what the roots are going to look like on this.

I guess we’ll find out now wow that is a extensive root system. This ketone aster has quite an extensive root system throughout the soil. There’S thick roots all over the place and i notice there’s shoots coming up all over the surface of the soil, so it’s sprouting suckers up from the root system itself, probably because i prune this main tree back so hard, so i’ll begin combing out the soil.

I think this is going to be quite a difficult task because, because of all the the roots here, i’m going to see what i can do, i’m going to start at the surface and comb it out and if there’s enough roots in the upper layer, i may Have to just saw off the bottom part of the root base, we’ll see how it goes.

I think for this because it’s so coarse this soil, i’m going to use my root hook. I think it’ll be easier. There’S a lot of tough stuff in here, so i can just kind of use all those weeds don’t want those.

So here you can see, there’s a new plant growing up from the roots, a sucker, that’s developed, interesting! I could create a forest here. If i wanted, i think here’s another one, there’s my marker for the front of the tree.

Now that may change depending on the root system, we’ll see i’m going to take my front marker out. I don’t have a pot picked out for this tree because i have no no idea what the root system’s like in what size pot.

Compact fibrous root system

I can put it in if it’s a compact fibrous root system. I can go in a smaller pot if it’s a great big giant root system. Well, i might have to go in a bigger pot and i’ll have to grow more smaller fine roots and then transition.

It to a smaller pot from what i see so far, there’s lots of fine roots which is good but they’re, all tangled there’s a mix of fine and thick roots. So you can see i’m pulling the root hook in a radial direction.

So i’m keeping all my nice radial roots and the only ones i’m kind of tearing through are some of the finer crossing roots. The other thing i don’t know is how deeply this tree is buried in the pot. Maybe these these suckers coming up, maybe they’re branches off the original tree.

I don’t know it’ll be interesting to see that’s the mystery of buying a nursery stock tree. You never know. What’S under the soil level, it could be anything, and sometimes you get a good surprise, and sometimes it’s not so good.

However, even the worst of root bases can be worked on and improved to something. Quite nice yeah there’s a lot of nice fine roots. Here. That’S really good, so my concept for this tree. I wanted to style it to look like an old ancient apple tree because they get those red berries on it, which look like apples.

So there’s a tangled root here. I’Ve got to get out kind of wraps around the trunk, it’s kind of hard to comb out with all these crossing roots and there’s big chunks of bark in the soil, but i’m getting there.

You can see i’m slowly working away at it, reducing the soil level down exposing more and more roots, and it’s all in the shade at the moment. So it’s not the roots, aren’t drying out from the sun or anything which is also kind of nice roots like these, you don’t know if this is where the root comes from the base of the tree or if it comes out from down here, it’s hard to Tell what direction the roots going? I think this is the the end of the root, but i’m not sure it’s really really tangled in there.

I think i’m going to cut it. I can’t comb with that in there it catches my root, rake and everything. So i’m going to cut that yeah, so i’ll cut it down here this one down here, they’re too far down in the soil anyway, like you, don’t want your pot that deep! That makes it a little easier to comb out the roots here.

So it looks like i’m going to be able to get this root base down to her quite a nice size in proportion to the tree anyway. So there’s definitely trunk going down lower. I don’t know how much of it, but there is a trunk line below the soil.

Cut them off they’re just the roots

These look like roots that were kind of wrapped around the bottom of the pot, so i’m just kind of sorting those out. I think you know at the bottom of the pot. The roots just ran round and round just gonna cut through some of these cut them off they’re just the roots.

I won’t be using so they’re very difficult to comb out because they’re all spiraled around the bottom. That should help i am getting closer. I’M getting a lot of the soil removed now, so i’m thinking this is probably started from a cutting um, because all the roots are kind of coming off of one plane and it seems fairly thick the trunk as it goes down and then it just stops.

So it doesn’t look like there’s any big tap root or anything. So that’s good cuttings make great bonsai you get a nice radial root system roots generally at one plane and it’s a great start. There’S some original soil in here that the cutting was started in i’m just trying to get that out.

First, okay, all right i’ll, clean up this soil and we’ll come back and wash the roots. Here’S a look at my root system, i’m going to wash it now i’ll, bring my root right with me and try and get some more of the soil out between the roots and get a you know, get a nice clear view of.

What’S going on all right into the water, the root system goes swish. It around do some probing around in here quite a trunk under the soil line. Here i i think, a nice one. I think there’s yeah hope for an interesting root base here.

Hopefully, not just interesting, but really really nice. This root is really wrapped around. Here. I’Ve got to find where it where it goes. I think it starts here and then it goes up and around. So this is the end of the root pull that out there.

We go yeah, there’s a lot of twisted up roots in here like a like a fist, and it’s not going to be easy to sort them out, but if i have to do heavy root work, this is the time of the year to do it. Well, i think i’m gonna have to do some root work and then come back and wash them again, maybe several times to to get everything right.

So let’s get it up on the bench and start pruning roots all right. Let’S start here, there’s one sticking straight up into this out of the soil um that would grow. I don’t want a forest or a clump style, so i’m going to remove that.

There’S one coming straight up here that kind of wraps around the trunk. I’M going to get rid of that another one here, that’s out of the root plane, get rid of that this one also prune that back, there’s one here that it starts off from this root and kind of wraps around the trunk.

I’M going to get rid of that one that one’s gone there’s another root here, wrapping around the trunk gone, so my aim is to get a nice flowing root base that goes down into the soil. There’S one here, sticking straight up: i’m going to get rid of that one! It’S gone! There’S a couple here.

You can see how the roots flow from the trunk line down to the soil and then there’s one that sticks up here. Get rid of that there’s another one here, sticking straight up, get rid of that a couple of root hairs up here.

I can get clean up and get rid of they’re out of the soil line. So this is the first major surface root right here. There’S another one here: instead of being radial the root, it should be sticking out here, it’s like 90 degrees, so i’m taking that one off and also this one just not going a good direction.

This one’s sticking up take that one off this one’s doing something strange. We’Ll get rid of that so here again, i have one sticking straight up: get rid of that! There’S something sticking up here. I think it’s either a branch or a root or something that’s coming off one going a bad direction.

There i got ta, do some more combing here see what’s going on here? Okay, so i can prune this one back a little further. One sticking up here i’ll get rid of that. This one takes a very strange direction.

I think it might even wrap around the trunk or something yeah. It does see that it was wrapping around the trunk so that i redirected there there’s one sticking up here. It wraps around the trunk too get rid of that one.

So you can see how much more trunk i have now. This was the soil line. I’Ve got all this that was buried under the soil, i’m just going to re-wash the roots, there’s a lot of soil in here. Okay, that makes it a little easier to see.

Just a little root here going around the trunk, get rid of that now, so i’m still looking for radial roots, not finding a whole lot. So this root you can see instead of being radial, it’s instead of being radial like this, it’s cranked over 90 degrees.

So that’s got to come off. I think it’s sticking up. I think that root was sticking up from one that comes from the bottom and then it curls upwards. That’S not very good! Just sorting out some of these roots to see what’s going on here, wow! That’S a thick root down there.

Well, i’m going to prune off some of these roots from the bottom first, some of the ones that are sticking straight down might help me see what’s going on here, because right now, it’s just a tangled mess.

So that’s kind of down to the base of the tree wow you can see here is a root that curls and then it goes down and gets tangled underneath all these other roots wow, that’s like difficult to sort out a route like that and they’re fairly thick Yeah, that’s not moving anywhere.

I’M gonna have to cut that one off see that one there goes down in the root base. So let me cut that off right here, i’m not sure. What’S attached to it all, but it’s loose it’s just really tangled in there.

I don’t know if i can get it out i’ll just have to cut it off here and we’ll get to it as we work away at the root base. So there’s another one. Oh my goodness. Look at this tangled there’s a root sticking straight up here.

Wrapping around the trunk

I’Ll get rid of that this route starts somewhere and it goes underneath this root and then in between these roots, i’m cutting it out. Another strange route: that’s wrapping around the trunk. That’S come out now, some more vertical roots here that have to come off one here.

This root, i think it wraps underneath this other thick root here it does. Oh, my goodness, we’ll shorten the radial root department on this tree. Now, let’s see how we’re doing here, all the roots sorted out wow.

So i’m going to cut away these roots coming from the bottom here see this base consists of a root curled around here cut that off so here i’ve got a root that crosses there’s, two roots come out and they cross each other.

So i got ta, try and sort that out they cross, and then they take a strange direction going back in towards the tree. Maybe you’ll just have to [ Music ], i’m looking to see where my root plane will be.

It might be down here and this one might have to come off, even though it’s a beautiful flowing root after it gets to about here. It does all kinds of strange things and there might be a better route down lower, because i think this root i’m going to re-wash it and just wash it again.

This root looks like it comes from this root, but then it attaches what does it? Okay, i’m gonna do this i’m going to cut this off here. I think that roots kind of fused in i think this is my root base down here.

So i’m going to remove this upper root here like that and this one. So this is what i would call a fairly difficult root system. Where you know the base of the tree. Isn’T obvious, you don’t have a lot of nice radial roots, but you can still see i’m working at sorting it out and you know there’s only so much you can do each time you repot the tree.

I can sort some things out, but other things have to be grown. So here’s a root here now [ Music ]. It comes from the bottom and grows upwards. That’S got to come off and it’s all intertwined in these roots somewhere in here too.

Oh, my goodness, i’m trying to get that root out still yeah they’re, all intertwined very tangled and knotted. There’S one coming out: oh it’s attached here! Okay, only got it sorted out anyway, there’s one that came out so i’m looking at the root system on this side.

Now a lot of soil in here, okay, i’m gonna wash that again, okay, so got all these roots. Oh there it comes that root came out now, there’s another one going straight up here. You can see it starts down here and snakes its way upwards.

Not so good, and then this one also comes upwards out of the soil and get rid of that one. This one back yeah. There were a lot of roots that grew at the bottom and then just went upwards. I guess because of the probably started in a small pot as a cutting and the roots just grew wherever there’s soil available, which was upwards okay, so you can see i’m getting it down to some kind of a root base.

I’M going to do some cutting here that off didn’t cut wow, they’re, thick thick and woody cut through there. I just have to get this out somehow there’s that one root that dives down i’ve got to prune that off like that.

Okay, this looks like a big thick rudolph to this side that might have to be just pruned off a lot of strange roots coming off of it. One upwards there yeah this this one on the bottom might just have to be taken right off.

I think i’m going to wash it first, okay, so there it is, you can see it on the bottom, so i need to take that right, right off big cut coming up here i go. I can get it at the right angle. There! Okay, i got part of it off trim this one back this one back where it starts to go downhill and from this one back, starting to look more like a real root system.

Now so i’m still, i still have that big lump on the bottom that needs cleaning up and there’s this root. That’S going to come out like that yeah. So i’m going to take it off right here, that’s a logical place to cut my the bottom off here.

I go it’s very tough, but i can do this. I think there goes easy as that, so there you can see the bottom now. I’Ve got a radial root system. It looks quite nice, i’m actually quite pleased with it. However, i’m not done with it.

Yet i’m going to clean up all these roots, re-wash it and we’ll come in and do the final root pruning. So here’s a root. It starts this diameter, it kind of bends a bit stays the same diameter all the way out.

So there’s not much change of direction from this to here, there’s no change of taper and there’s no ramification, so i’ve got to cut it back and i think there’s a little fine root there. I could come right back to here parallel with the ground level like that, so all the new roots will grow from that tip.

Fine root hairs coming off

There’S another one beside it that could be cut back. There’S some fine root hairs coming off of it. So take that back a little same with this one, it’s you know long. It needs subdividing, so i’m going to reduce it back to here.

Taking that tip off this one could be taken back a little further. This one too. Also this one. You can see the radial direction is here and it’s kind of going off funny, so we’ll redirect it keeping it radial so could be pruned back a little, and i think that is pretty good for the first root pruning.

Now that’s really taking it back, but i think it’ll be worth it if the tree lives. I think this will probably be the front of the tree here. It’S quite beautiful. Actually, it’s uh if it lives it’s better than i ever expected.

So i think that’ll be the front of the tree. So now i’ve got to find a pot for it and get it planted. I think i’m going to grow it in my 3d printed pot. It’S it’s a good sized pot for it. It’S like a little long and landscape-y, but what’s you know, get branches growing in a canopy? I think it’ll do for now a good kind of training pot, it’s fairly shallow, so the roots can’t grow too wildly out of control.

So yeah, that’s the pot. I’Ll put it in i’ll get a base layer of soil in the pot, so this is just a pla pot. So it’s not going to last for very long there’s a chip in the paint here i’ll make this the front of the pot here and i’m going to plant the tree.

It’S kind of leaning so about here just off center and it kind of leans to the left, so i’ll pile my soil up a little higher here and then ease the tree down on the soil and now that’s a pretty good height in the pot there.

So i got to get all these roots sorted out, get them in the soil flowing downhill, a bit. Add some soil everything’s. Looking good [, Music ], just lift up a bit, get that soil worked in a bit underneath the root base there.

It’S looking good! It’S nice and stable in the pot now and i’ll continue filling it in so this tree, like i said, if it lives, it’s going to be really really nice. I was very pleased with the what was below the soil there.

There are lots of surprises, but there are some nice surprises too, so i’ve just got to get it to live, which i think it will. I think it has enough energy and it’s growing in a greenhouse here that it’ll survive and thrive this summer.

So i’ve kind of stripped the top of the tree and the bottom of the tree down to the bare essentials, but it will create a nice bonsai. So the next step is to water, the tree. Okay, i think that’s good.

I based the front of the tree mainly on the root base and kind of the movement of the trunk. So there’d be a lot of branch sorting out to do up top here to start to get a nice kind of apple tree style, canopy, one that you’d see in an apple orchard.

I think this tree if it gets through this spring. I think it’ll just do beautifully over the summer and there’ll be lots more styling coming in the future, trying to get that image of an apple tree, an ancient apple tree in an orchard that was some pretty intense root work, difficult root, work on my ketone aster.

I didn’t expect it to be that hard and all that tangled, so i think we’ll have to come back and do the gardenia in part two of this series. So that’s all for part one. I’M nigel saunders thanks for joining me in the bonsai zone.


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