Repotting Taxus Bonsai

Repotting Taxus Bonsai

Graham Potter of Kaizen Bonsai shows how to repot a taxus (yew) bonsai tree in summer. Simple, basic and detailed step by step information on performing this important but often mis-understood task.

In the workshop today we’ve got this taxus bonsai tree and we’re gonna be repotting this not something that’s unusual in itself but something I’ve found through experience that very few people understand and one of the things that’s unusual about this is it’s summertime as the end of July here in the UK which is evident shorts and over the last few years we’ve begun to move more and more repotting of evergreens into the summer repine takes us in the UK in the springtime can be difficult we kind of never know when the springtime is coming and one of the things I’ve found is if it takes us has been repaid and then it sits outside the weather’s cold and it’s wet and you can get root rot and a lot of taxes and good taxes have been lost because of that the advantage of repotting at this time of year is that the tree will quickly recover within usually six or seven days it will be creating new root and it will be growing very strongly so over there like I say over the last few years have been doing this consistently with taxes and lots of other immigrants and it’s proved a hundred percent successful we’ve never lost the taxes repotting at this time of year the question I’m continually asked in bonsai is how often a tree should be repotted or what time of year it should be potted or home out frequently over the years that work should be done and if you learn to read what’s written here there’s not question that needs to be asked once the soil of a tree in a pot begins to lose its drainage most people assume that’s the point at which we need to repot but free draining soil is something that’s really important if we’re developing raw material if we have collected trees or we have nursery stock that’s not one side we want a free drainage sort because that gives us lots of random growth on deciduous trees it gives us big into those big leaves lots of energy and lots of rampant growth that we can work with in order to build the structure of our zoetry in terms of primary secondary branches and with a strong and vigorous tree we can repot every year every two years every three years and that helps us to start to build up the quality nebari for the tree and also to build up that nice fibrous root system that bonsai trees are so dependent upon now with a tree like this because it’s not really raw material it’s got reasonable primary branching and secondary branch and in its dock plenty of small tertiary branching on the ends it’s not so important to have to repot every time the solar drainage gets a little bit less than ideal all that’s required is where the soil that is quite compact is in the summer watering consistently so what we want to do is maintain an even level of moisture within that soil and sometimes that requires coming back to that tree two three four times to get that sort of soak all the way through once it is soaked all the way through we may not be watering for a day two days three days depending on the weather and the uptake of water by the tree so the fact that the drainage appears to have gone in the soil is not the primary reason to repot now what we have to do is learn to read the tree and if it’s a tree that we’re familiar with we can watch the growth rate of the material over a period of years and if we begin to see that start to track downhill ie each year it grows a little less and a little less and a little less then we can consider that we may need to be repotted this particular taxes came into the nursery last year as part of a deal with us upon exchange and I haven’t touched this in so we’ve let it grow over this spring just watched it and see what it’s done and as you can tell it’s a little bit off-color it’s a little bit yellow if you take a look at this by comparison this is the color it taxes should be and you can see this is a little bit yellow the surface of the soil is very compacted and very hard and this tree is a little bit off color and with taxes that tells me straight away that this soil is starting to become a siddik which is something that happens where the tree that’s been in a pot a long time a lot of organic material in the soil from old and dead root and the tree starts to become a little bit more acidic I’ve tested the soil on this and it has gone into the onto the acidic side of the scale and so we really need to get this tree out of this pot and like I say with the the color of the tree also the growth it’s only grown a very small amount this free although the growth is fairly even it’s got some back buds but some of the shoots have grown and then died back and I can see having a look at this that it’s largely in akadama and which is a game of slightly acidic and using my experience like an alkaline soil mix it helps them because the more acidic of soil becomes the less easier is retreated to pick up nutrients so by repotting this now we’re going to be able to correct that before the issue has got too serious there are we’re two slightly weaker branches on this and which is unfortunate it’s perhaps been left a year maybe two years to on but like I said you can learn to read what’s here and watch the tree carefully over a period of time it’ll be in all the Telltale’s you need to know that it is coming up for a repotting but it’s got nothing to do with the drainage of the soil if you have a tree that’s compacted in its and you’re having difficulty watering it or in the winter – Spain – well then what’s called an emergency repot is ridiculous nonsense because all you need to do is learn to manage this so if the tree is always too wet you need to water it more often if over the winter or even in the summer indeed if the sword is too wet you need to water less and if you’re in an area where it rains fairly consistently you need to go the tree on the cover so you manage the moisture level in the soil just take in the tree and repotting it for the sake of it because you can’t manage the moisture level in the soil it’s not necessarily going to help the tickler if it’s the wrong time of year and also if the tree is weak you’ll be adding insult to injury it’s like asking somebody who’s got a heart condition to go out and run a marathon it’s going to end badly and so what I’m gonna do is walk you through the basic process of repot in this trick don’t know what we’ve gotta find in this soil what we’re going to get into it and what’s going to happen is then this tree will progressively improve over over the next probably six to eight weeks before the weather starts to cool down and then by next summer this tree should be green again and we should expect two to three times more growth next summer we’re seeing in the moment before we pull this tree out of the soil just I’d show you how well off color at the top of this is now you can see it’s quite yellow but you can see these sorts of the areas of growth you can see it’s done you know it’s done a couple of three centimetres here and there and you can see here particularly this lower part you can see this branch is quite weak there’s very much there’s very little new growth on there there’s obviously so much more on the top and then there’s a lot more on the ends and then if you look in here you can see areas like this where some of the new shoes have collapsed that’s indicative of a root system that’s not working very well however by looking a little closer in some areas of the tree you will see that there are lots of back buds just beginning to beginning to show there’s a couple here and that shows that basically this tree is not in a serious condition but it’s something that certainly is going to need some help you can see here will the soul of its obviously quite dry because we’re gonna be repoing it but you can see they’re solid there’s no work there’s no spring in that at all and you can just tell by this black stuff that’s on here this is a religion or algae that’s been growing and all indicative of a root system that’s less than ideal so we’re going to now pull this out of the pot and see what we can find so I’ve been removed this tree fits plastic pot you can now see that the root system actually looks fairly good there’s no black areas indicating root rot there’s no areas where it’s been too wet but you can see that there’s an awful lot of roots that are beginning to circle the pot overall I’m quite pleased in this it looks pretty good but I’m imagining that once we get into the core of this we’re going to find something that’s probably not being cleaned out for a long time I may be wrong but overall this shows us a good healthy root system with her taxes you do get a very smaii perfumey smell from healthy roots so if you pick that up with the taxes and you know that basically there’s nothing too wrong then so I guess we’ve caught this tree just about in time to get this work done so in order to clean this out we can take we can take a rake and we can get into this and rake this out now you’ll usually find the taxes and a lot of other evergreens all the roots are on the outside of the train this makes quite an impenetrable in pencil barium because this tree has been repotted in the past by somebody who knew what they were doing I’m fairly confident there’s no wood in here so we’ve got a little bit of a short cut here which is a reciprocating saw [Music] [Music] [Music] a kazoo cutter a nice useful door mouth off the bottom of this we’ve not touched any wood at all so somebody has been in here and dealt with this properly which is nice and as you can see from this the soil in the middle here is fairly loose but the outsides are completely compact and absolutely solid it may seem of interested to cut this off but you could spend easily you could take a rake like this and you could easily spend half an hour 45 minutes raking all this out and then you’re gonna believe then you’re gonna root through and you’re gonna cut this all off so the simple thing is to just solve that off and then we’ll get rid of that and then working from the inside to see this right so much easier and then we can just work gently with a rake and I know a lot of people don’t like to use the right move here’s the right hold it very lightly in the hand so that if it starts to snag on some roots your hand just slides along it because we don’t want to just tear this root system pieces because obviously there’s some of this that we need to keep but by holding this slightly and using it in the silver more of a circular motion than a pulling motion it just fluffs up the roots and it allows all the soil to the fall out without absolutely destroying most of the root system another thing I can see here by the way this is moving is that these corners don’t have any woodwork in at all [Music] no we can just trim that away and then we can get to work with the race but we’re here to clean this back to a point that find the route so we’re actually going to use to put back into the pop because this tree has been repaved before we know that we’ve got lots a nice compact root we haven’t got a lot woodwork in here which is really helpful and so we can be fairly confident and just pulling this whole soil away now given this trim all the way around who do you see something a little smaller and I like these right tweezers because you can use them this way and then you’ve got like a little chopstick in this way you’ve just not small raked and that’s really useful for working between larger roots if you come across them and again you hold that quite lightly so it slides in and out of your hand if it snagged up on anything and that stops you tearing the roots apart before we get on to the top side of this root ball I want to have a clean-out in here because the streets got a fairly large and fairly flat base on it and so it’s important to chase underneath a little bit and as you can see there’s a big root that’s been cut just here but apart from that we’re still even at this stage where we’re down to a couple of inches of root ball and we’re not finding any wood under here which is good so at this point you can see we’ve now hit the bottom of the trunk and thankfully somebody’s cut this off nice and nice and short so we haven’t got any big lumps of wood coming into the pot which is important because the bonsai pots fairly small and the last thing we want to do is fill it full of wood and you can see even under here we’ve got some fairly healthy root there’s still some original sand in here I can see from probably where this was a field brown or a nursery tree so we will get in and clean that out and we just have a little prune can’t wait most of the lengthy roots there you can see there’s hardly anything that’s thick and woody overall I’m really quite pleased with the what we found in here we certainly call this just in time I think kind of stop at this point there’s no point in cleaning more of this out at this point because obviously we’re not going to get any lower than this because this is already the base of the trunk so now I’m going to start looking at the top of this now the top of this RuPaul has started to get quite solid and that tends to happen because there’s a lot of air in the surface of the soil seeing a lot of root mass long root developments at that point also you get a lot of mossy goal of leaching and algae and as that grows and dies and grows and dies over the years it can become quite solid so here I’m just using the sharp ender this pair of tweezers and just pick in between the roots we’re just taking the surface off of this and working between the roots that we’ve got you can see it’s actually coming out fairly fairly easily because what we found here is in fairly good condition we’ve certainly got no root rot we were not not areas where this sort has been waterlogged we’ve got no aerobic conditions anywhere on this it’s not going to be necessary to completely bare root this truth because what here is actually reasonably healthy it’s just that the sword is written that the tree has reached the limit of its soil and is all the verge of becoming pop barren so by pruning this back and cleaning this back we’re going to encourage the formation of new roots and that’s game they’re going to be young literally vibrant vibrant and that’s going to really help to restore the vigor back to this tree and ultimately nice green color as well [Music] I’m often asked about washing roots because a lot of people are just too lazy to pick through a rule like this because it does take some time I tend not to with deciduous trees in the springtime when you’re inviting that can be a beneficial thing to do because you can we have that clean back if you’re working on building in the Bari but with evergreens have not found it’s particularly helpful and I’m sure lots and lots of people will disagree but this is just the way that I choose to work so you can see here we’re starting to get this clean note was starting to uncover some good solid roots under here there’s very fit of wire and other stuff sticking up so I’m now just going to work spend a cheerful half-an-hour and pick through this that reach the position cleaning this out where we’ve got to where it’s been cut like before we know that because we’re starting to bump into lots of wood where you can see roots have been cut previously this side of the tree we got some nice roots nice and solid but the problem we’ve got in other areas is we’ve got roots are crossing going back in on themselves we’ve got these odd sort of roots sticking out at this point and in order to build in a berry what we’re looking for is the base of the tree and then we’re looking at roots coming from this point here now with the deciduous tree like a maple we can be quite severe in the way that we prune that but with evergreens it’s safer to just work on that and start to develop that trunk nebari root structure just little by little so each time you read pot you can remove one or two of these bits as long as they’re not carrying too much root so these little ones here I’m confident that we can take those and usually you can see there there’s just too tiny you can just see here there are two tiny little bits on that this one here is coming out and it’s turning around and coming right round and back on itself so we just take that right back to there pulling through and you can see there was not a huge amount on there anyway look so I’m not going to cut everything back all at once it’s much safer to do that progressively over a period of time there’s another one here which you can sell not really sure where that emanates from but see we’ve got sort of some fairly long roots here fairly woody parts here so if we can cut these back and then they’ll start to generate new fibrous root from their ends that helps it to build a nebari but it also helps a tree because it’s bringing those fibrous feeder roots of a tree or so dependent upon much closer to the trunk and that’s one of the primary considerations that we want to achieve when we are repoint so just slowly little by little it’s working through this and as we uncover more root we can see what we can burn what we can’t this side of the tress got very little in the way of any strong wood or big thick roots the bulk of the strongest stuff seems to be here just a little by little we just keep picking through this loosening this up and if you assume that every time you repot you can correct one or two of these roots after a few years you’ll be well on your way towards building a good nebari but doing it in a safe way we haven’t got to run the risk and have the sleepless nights of worrying whether your tree is actually going to survive basically if it’s something that you’ve not got much experience of so gave this one here you can see it starting to circle the pot so we can just take that and okaying that back from there we’ve got rid of all this length and we’ll start to develop the find route that we need back down here on the back here hopefully you can just see where we’ve got some old field source and sand in here it’s by ever a Fire’s color and you could also see the roots are really quite poor at this point which is I guess why somebody put right back now we need to begin to improve that we can you know we can’t make it perfect but we can certainly improve in to some degree so and again take some of these long roots away some of this in here is really not doing much at all get rid of that just take a little brush but I don’t see what we’ve actually all going on there you’re doing this type of work at this time of year is obviously we can dry the soil quite easily just a couple of days in the Sun so is fairly try that means we can gain here and it’s Pleasant we’re not covered in mud and muck and also another reason why I don’t like to wash because you just they’re nothing but a filth and it’s very different the see what’s going on but when everything’s nice and dry powdery like this we really can get to grips with this quite easily where this sound is in the back here the soccer field so there’s quite a lot of dead route it’s a few stones and obviously this area has been quite wet because the soil is so fine and so by cleaning the how we’re gonna get much more air in here but also you may notice if you look carefully the fibrous root on this areas here where this is in good soil is very very dense here there’s almost no fibrous root at all a little guys Dave you can see there’s very very little fibrous root material in here at all because this saw it has been probably to weigh in the winter which is cause root died back and then in the summer the waters just running over the surface and then it’s too dry so it’s just not developed the root system in there because that area goes from there to there that’s a significant percentage of the pot it’s not really doing anything from the tree so that’s why it’s beneficial to get this all dug out at this point now I’ve had a little cleaner in here you can see this big group but this big root is on the same level as the other the other larger parts of the trunk were going into the soil which are building them bar in this tree and we’ve got this one stuck up here you can see in the past we’ve had a root removed from here here another one from here and there’s good root beginning to form on the base of this piece here even though it is in the sand so I’m quite confident we can get rid of that piece there you can see although it’s a thick root it’s got relatively small amount of feet of root on it so we’re quite happy removing that what that will do is mean that there will be no more roots generating on these ends so that when we come to repot this again this part of the tree should look much like the rest of it and absolutely full of nice fine feeder roots it’s not the best tree we’re gonna have to do something here there’s a little carving gonna go on but you can only work with what you’ve got so now we’ve got the bulk of this cleaned out I’m quite happy with us as far as we’ve got we’ve removed some of the bigger roots as much as I’m so comfortable with at this point because this trees got the most vigorous I’m not gonna go completely mad so before we get this ready to go back into its is new soil we just sweep all that loose soil off and we’ve got lots and lots of fibrous dried-out roots here which we can get rid of there’s also a few little woody pieces we can just nip those back it’s what we want a nice clean cut ends here which are going to regenerate new roots really quickly so just go round sweep the dust and the loose stuff off remove as much dead material as we reasonably can and then we’re good for your repotting box is important to keep your wits about you or be aware of what you’re doing it’s very easy to get carried away and I think more bunzo trees have been lost through overzealous repotting than just about anything it’s nice to be able to fix everything in one go and it’s very tacked in and I’ve certainly fallen foul of the desire to do that in the past but if you can work in a methodical and sensible way and each time you reap art you make a few improvements it’s much safer than trying to do it all in one go and certainly if you live in the UK the climate is not necessarily the best for growing trees distinct lack of sunshine and certainly a lot of years rather more water than we might like and so perhaps if you live in a warmer climate you can get away with a lot more but based on my experience in the last 30 years this work we’re doing today is entirely safe and this people have no issues that we’ll be able to come back in perhaps three four years time and we’ll be able to having a gun now we go make a few more improvements during the Russian to try and for each bonsai trees probably bombs are not the best thing for you it’s just a progressive process that we just put the year of the year after year and as we do each time we do trees get a little better and a little better so just if you see this part of the tree here this is where the old field saw was most of this in here actually as would know so most of that sand has gone if you look at the fine root development of that point versus the fine development of roots at this point where this is in in a more suitable soil for a pond you can see that the difference is just night and day and as I was saying at the outset that a good free draining soil is going to produce a massive root and a massive root it’s going to produce a massive growth if we leave a core of soil in the base of collected trees whether they yamadori or nursery grown trees that leaves a large proportion of the pond that’s not going to work for the tree and it is obviously going to slow the development of that plant as bonsai so now I’m at this stage here we’ve lost about probably 70% of the rootball on this base you can see just there were an awful lot here that’s all intact and there’s no issue with any of this this is all fairly open is breathing fairly well so now I’m quite happy with that so now we can get him back into his pot the first I’d work on this tree we all sleep prepared the soil because we don’t want to be messing around with that while the tree sitting there with the roots drying out in the sunshine so having prepared the pot the first thing I’m gonna do is put a layer of this large pumice in the base as a drainage tile and that always a great fan of doing that but this is a deep pot it’s not a bonsai pot we’ve got more than enough space for this tree to thrive in here and because we are in the UK we do have to make a few concessions to the weather and this will certainly do no harm so I’ll cover the bottom of this pot with that and the sort of this tree is going into is just to meet so of medium pumice and about five 10% of super light and molar mix as well so it’s almost it’s about 90% pumice and we just drop that through a sieve to take the very fine material out but the thing with pumice is saving it is largely for grading the particle size it won’t get all the dust out because pumice is quite soft and it’s abrasive and so if you keep Simula it will just keep wearing itself away but you can see that it’s a fairly nice clean mix and that’s going to be throughout this throughout this pot now the reason for having just a small amount of molar that’s the pink or orange colored stuff is that it will help to bind nutrients into the soil from fertilizer just using pumice alone it doesn’t tend to hold the nutrient very well although it’s fantastic for root development and fungal development that you need within the soil to create a healthy root system and there’s just a little bit of green dream soil source in here which is an amazing product for helping things to establish quickly what little of our pumice makes in here you can see this sits at a reasonable height I’m not interested in exactly how this looks in a pot because it’s not bonsai bonsai pot it’s going to be a long time before it looks anything like one and so all we’re doing here is preparing this to grow so before that goes in there finally and then we’ve got this little stump here so a little tap with it and man it just gets all the loose material out and then she’s good to go in here got bring your depth here and I actually plant in this deep at this time it’s going to help because we’re going to cover this surface with soil so that’s going to help roots generating at the level of our nebari which when we come to repot this in the future is going to be of benefit just put a little hop the soil underneath this and then just give it a little a little wiggle just to settle it down and then we’re good then we just take the wires because we want to secure this in the pot with wires because that will help the roots to establish stop it wagging about the DRI’s so couple of wires why don’t you share through the holes of it in the pot pull and twist and that’ll stop the wire you won’t break your wire if you do that [Music] you have any surface roots try and tuck the wires underneath and then you won’t get wire marked in those diseased wires will stay here until we come to repot just get rid of the standards a while then we can start getting some soil in there so here’s the tree so firmly secured you can see the wires here as you can see the tree is nice and secure in there so now we can just start to feed some of our soil in here in this in layers and because we’ve got a fairly flat root ball we can just get our fingers in there and just push that underneath because obviously we don’t need spaces under there it’s one of those wonderful plastic pots so we can always use one of these if you tap with a rubber mallet and just press that soil just gently you’ll just feel that drop in and your fingers will just drop as that all goes in it’s much quicker much easier to deal with and spending hours with a stick now obviously we’re going to use a stick to chase it into some of the deeper nooks and crannies in this in this root ball because we’ve got fairly nice and clean pruned edges around the edges of the roots obviously we haven’t got too much work to get this all worked in between [Music] [Music] [Music] [Music] [Music] [Music] this is our work complete and at this point in most videos you see some very artistic clever camera work with somebody pouring water over the tree and flooding this pot with water washing in lots of fantastic shots of some nice sparkling through drips of water and so on and so forth one of the things I find about you is growing in the UK over the years is they do really do not like to be too wet so all we’re going to do is give this literally just a little sprinkle with water because the pumice we put in here is already damp now that dampness is enough to stop those root ends drying out and it will stay relatively warm and it will encourage new root growth within probably 3 to 4 days at the most maybe a week well stay scenario if this were young growth you may see little wilting book because this growth is nice and solid it’s nice and hard we’ve caught it just between the hardening of the first brake and the flush of the second breaking growth we’re just going to give this a little damp and then after that is gonna stay in full Sun over the winds and when I see this pumice which will go quite up it’s not bright white but it does go white when I see this pumice go whoa we just give it the lights of sprinkler or because we don’t want this water locked because that will impede the development of new rooms now if you live in a country where it’s 3040 degrees every day that’s an entirely different thing and you’ll have to figure out that for yourself but in my experience this is the best way to work once we see buds swelling we start to see new flush of growth and then we can just walk this in the normal way and it can go back into its regular place on the bench and they can stay there year-round in Italy we have thee I appreciate this may freak some folk out repotting this time of year but like I say it’s proven a hundred percent successful for me over the last 10 or 15 years where spring repotting in the UK really didn’t so I’m sure this works most places as long as you make adjustments for your own localized climate everybody always asks about fertilizer and you’re only ever fertilize trees that are growing and so if this tree starts to put on strong growth and it starts push a little fertilizer is obviously advisable but at this point this tree doesn’t need anything at all other than just a tiny amount of water and a lot of sunshine and then it will grow and it will recover and it’ll have a bright future so hopefully this little demonstrations been helpful and giving you some good advice in relation to taxes in the UK [Music] you [Music] you

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