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SPRING REPOTTING

BY: CHRIS WILLETTE

REPOTTING YOUR BONSAI TREE IS ESSENTIAL IN KEEPING YOUR TREE IN GOOD HEALTH THROUGHOUT ITS LIFETIME. ITS A PROCESS THAT IS USUALLY DONE EVERY FEW YEARS DEPENDING ON CERTAIN FACTORS, SOME OF WHICH INCLUDE: OVERALL HEALTH; AGE OF TREE; SIZE OF POT; SOIL PERCOLATION(THE ABILITY OF WATER AND OXYGEN TO ENTER THE SOIL); SPECIES OF TREE, AESTHETIC PURPOSES(CHANGING PLANTING ANGLE/CHANGE OF POT), ROOT INFESTATIONS(EX: ROOT APHIDS) ECT. THE REPOTTING TASK INCLUDES REMOVING THE TREE FROM THE POT, RAKING AWAY SOME OLD SOIL/SUBSTRATE—THIS IS USUALLY DONE IN A RADIAL PATTERN IN ORDER TO AVOID CROSSING ROOTS AND ALSO CREATE A NICE NEBARI(THE SURFACE ROOTS THAT ORIGINATE FROM THE BASE OF THE TRUNK), PRUNING OLD ROOTS, WIRING THE TREE IN THE POT TO AVOID MOVING AND TEARING OF ROOTS, AND ADDING NEW FRESH SOIL/SUBSTRATE FOR NEW FINE FEEDER ROOTS TO GROW. THIS IS A TASK THAT IS OFTEN SCARY TO THOSE BEGINNING TO PRACTICE BONSAI, BUT NOT DOING THI TASK CAN SOMETIMES BE DETRIMENTAL AND CAUSE YOUR TREE TO DIE. HERE IS A BRIEF STEP BY STEP WALK THROUGH ON HOW TO REPOT YOUR BONSAI TREE:

PHOTO COURTESY: BONSAITREES-CNT.BLOGSPOT.COM   WHEN REPOTTING YOUR BONSAI, IT IS NECESSARY TO PRUNE THE ROOTS. WHILE TO MOST NEW BONSAI PRACTITIONERS THIS TASK SEEMS EXTREME, THIS ALLOWS FOR NEW FINE FEEDER ROOTS TO GROW WHICH IN TURN ABSORB ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS AND STIMULATE NEW FOLIAGE GROWTH ABOVE THE SURFACE OF THE SOIL.

PHOTO COURTESY: BONSAITREES-CNT.BLOGSPOT.COM

WHEN REPOTTING YOUR BONSAI, IT IS NECESSARY TO PRUNE THE ROOTS. WHILE TO MOST NEW BONSAI PRACTITIONERS THIS TASK SEEMS EXTREME, THIS ALLOWS FOR NEW FINE FEEDER ROOTS TO GROW WHICH IN TURN ABSORB ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS AND STIMULATE NEW FOLIAGE GROWTH ABOVE THE SURFACE OF THE SOIL.

PHOTO COURTESY: BONSAI4ME.COM   ONCE SOME OF THE OLD SOIL IS REMOVED USING A ROOT HOOK OR ROOT RAKE (THIS PREVENTS SOIL COMPACTION), THE POT IS PREPPED BY COVERING THE DRAINAGE HOLES WITH MESH TO AVOID UNWANTED CRITTERS FROM COMING UP INTO THE SOIL AND TO PREVENT SOIL FROM WASHING AWAY AND ESCAPING. WIRE IS THEN THREADED THROUGH THE DRAINAGE HOLES, OR SMALLER HOLES WHICH ARE TYPICALLY FOR THIS PURPOSE SPECIFICALLY. A FRESH NEW BASE LAYER OF SUBSTRATE, USUALLY OF A BIGGER PARTICLE SIZE, IS PLACED IN TO THE POT AND A MOUND OF SOIL IS PLACED IN THE CENTER OF THE POT. THE MOUND OF SUBSTRATE IS THEN '“SQUASHED” DOWN BY PLACING THE TREE ON TOP AND ROTATING IT BACK AND FORTH ASSURING THERE ARE NO AIR POCKETS UNDER THE ROOT BALL. THE TREE IS THEN WIRED DOWN IN TO THE POT, MAKING SURE THE TREE DOESN’T MOVE WHEN A GUST OF WIND HITS IT OR IT IS BEING TRANSPORTED.

PHOTO COURTESY: BONSAI4ME.COM

ONCE SOME OF THE OLD SOIL IS REMOVED USING A ROOT HOOK OR ROOT RAKE (THIS PREVENTS SOIL COMPACTION), THE POT IS PREPPED BY COVERING THE DRAINAGE HOLES WITH MESH TO AVOID UNWANTED CRITTERS FROM COMING UP INTO THE SOIL AND TO PREVENT SOIL FROM WASHING AWAY AND ESCAPING. WIRE IS THEN THREADED THROUGH THE DRAINAGE HOLES, OR SMALLER HOLES WHICH ARE TYPICALLY FOR THIS PURPOSE SPECIFICALLY. A FRESH NEW BASE LAYER OF SUBSTRATE, USUALLY OF A BIGGER PARTICLE SIZE, IS PLACED IN TO THE POT AND A MOUND OF SOIL IS PLACED IN THE CENTER OF THE POT. THE MOUND OF SUBSTRATE IS THEN '“SQUASHED” DOWN BY PLACING THE TREE ON TOP AND ROTATING IT BACK AND FORTH ASSURING THERE ARE NO AIR POCKETS UNDER THE ROOT BALL. THE TREE IS THEN WIRED DOWN IN TO THE POT, MAKING SURE THE TREE DOESN’T MOVE WHEN A GUST OF WIND HITS IT OR IT IS BEING TRANSPORTED.

PHOTO COURTESY: MINDYOURDIRT.COM   ONCE YOUR TREE IS WIRED DOWN SECURELY INTO YOUR POT OF CHOICE, YOU CAN BEGIN TO ADD THE NEW SUBSTRATE. WHAT TYPE OF SUBSTRATE TO USE IS A VERY CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC AND VARIES FROM BONSAI PRACTITIONER TO BONSAI PRACTITIONER BASED ON PREFERENCE AS WELL AS THE CLIMATE IN WHICH YOU LIVE IN. WE’LL LEAVE THIS UP TO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ARTICLE IN THE FUTURE. AS YOU ADD YOUR NEW SUBSTRATE, IT IS CRUCIAL TO MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO AIR POCKETS THROUGHOUT THE POT. THIS CAN BE PREVENTED BY USING A CHOPSTICK OR OTHER POINTY OBJECT—I’VE USED A DULLED DOWN SCREW DRIVER—PUSHING IT DOWN IN TO THE SOIL AND MAKING CIRCULAR TYPE MOTIONS. AS YOU DO THIS YOU WILL SEE THE SOIL SETTLE DOWN IN TO THE POT. CONTINUE ON UNTIL THE REMAINDER OF THE POT IS FILLED WITH THE NEW SUBSTRATE.

PHOTO COURTESY: MINDYOURDIRT.COM

ONCE YOUR TREE IS WIRED DOWN SECURELY INTO YOUR POT OF CHOICE, YOU CAN BEGIN TO ADD THE NEW SUBSTRATE. WHAT TYPE OF SUBSTRATE TO USE IS A VERY CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC AND VARIES FROM BONSAI PRACTITIONER TO BONSAI PRACTITIONER BASED ON PREFERENCE AS WELL AS THE CLIMATE IN WHICH YOU LIVE IN. WE’LL LEAVE THIS UP TO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ARTICLE IN THE FUTURE. AS YOU ADD YOUR NEW SUBSTRATE, IT IS CRUCIAL TO MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO AIR POCKETS THROUGHOUT THE POT. THIS CAN BE PREVENTED BY USING A CHOPSTICK OR OTHER POINTY OBJECT—I’VE USED A DULLED DOWN SCREW DRIVER—PUSHING IT DOWN IN TO THE SOIL AND MAKING CIRCULAR TYPE MOTIONS. AS YOU DO THIS YOU WILL SEE THE SOIL SETTLE DOWN IN TO THE POT. CONTINUE ON UNTIL THE REMAINDER OF THE POT IS FILLED WITH THE NEW SUBSTRATE.

PHOTO COURTESY: WWW.MARINHOMESTEAD.COM   ONCE YOUR TREE IS REPOTTED ITS TIME TO WATER THE TREE THOROUGHLY—TYPICALLY UNTIL THE WATER RUNS CLEAR OUT OF THE DRAINAGE HOLES. ITS THEN TIME TO PLACE YOUR NEWLY REPOTTED TREE IN TO A SHADED SPOT AND OUT OF HARSH WEATHER CONDITIONS UNTIL NEW GROWTH IS SEEN. THIS IS A TASK THAT TAKES PRACTICE AND SHOULD BE DONE AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE TO ENSURE ADEQUATE HEALTH OF YOUR BONSAI FOR YEARS TO COME!

PHOTO COURTESY: WWW.MARINHOMESTEAD.COM

ONCE YOUR TREE IS REPOTTED ITS TIME TO WATER THE TREE THOROUGHLY—TYPICALLY UNTIL THE WATER RUNS CLEAR OUT OF THE DRAINAGE HOLES. ITS THEN TIME TO PLACE YOUR NEWLY REPOTTED TREE IN TO A SHADED SPOT AND OUT OF HARSH WEATHER CONDITIONS UNTIL NEW GROWTH IS SEEN. THIS IS A TASK THAT TAKES PRACTICE AND SHOULD BE DONE AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE TO ENSURE ADEQUATE HEALTH OF YOUR BONSAI FOR YEARS TO COME!