Monday, September 25, 2023
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Bonsai Repotting Method – Not Really useful!

Anybody who is aware of me or stops by right here commonly will know I’m a fantastic fan of the oft maligned Chinese language elm. Yesterday I cam throughout a ‘repotting approach’ although I might not advocate it.

To be able to get the perfect from this ubiquitous selection it’s vital to be concerned. A superb Chinese language elm is a really intensive labour of affection. They’re positively not a yearly brush up sort of deal. To get the perfect from an elm requires hitting sure marks each yr, as with most bonsai, timing is vital and all the things we do impacts what occurs subsequent. Getting probably the most from any bonsai is about maximising a number of little seemingly intangible and unrelated responses.

Nonetheless yesterday one thing occurred that made me query….

Simply how a lot of the “bonsai” we do, can we truly must do? How a lot of our exercise and efforts are really useful to the event of our timber and the way a lot is extra for OUR personal gratification. Then taking it a step additional, how a lot of what we’re doing truly PREVENTS our timber growing into bonsai?

The reply to that little conundrum is clearly not straight ahead. A lot relies upon upon our expertise and understanding and much more relies upon upon our definition of bonsai and what that truly is. Simply giving a plant a passing resemblance to a pure tree in miniature with a little bit of wire and pruning isn’t what I name bonsai lately, twenty 5 years in the past that’s about all I had and felt fairly smug about it too. Trying again I used to be a cocky little t**t. A proven fact that was made plain by the arrival of slightly tree in a service bag only a day in the past that posed some tough questions.

One of many nice joys of being concerned in bonsai is the invention of particular little timber that just about no one however their house owners knew existed. These not often become masterpieces of the artwork however they typically present nice age….and usually show what we’d name neglect.

So, yesterday lunchtime a stunning girl turned up on my doorstep clutching a manky service bag. Apparently the timber pot had damaged within the winter freeze and wanted one other, therefore the go to. With out actually trying I commandeered the bag and it’s contents with a promise to type it out. It’s slightly elm, how onerous can or not it’s?

So come night time I had an opportunity to have a look and that is what I discovered…..

Chinese elm bonsai technique

Bonsai Repotting Method – Not Really useful!


Chinese elm bonsai tree with a craggy trunk

Lovely craggy previous trunk. This solely occurs with time and age.


Neglected Chinese elm.

This in not how bonsai repotting ought to be performed.


Chinese elm bonsai restoration.

Bonsai repotting shouldn’t be this tough

Apparently the girl has owned the elm for greater than thirty years. It has by no means been re-potted, simply potted on when the previous pot started to look a bit small and cracked. Now trying a bit unhappy, not rising very properly and likewise lacking a pot for months on finish the proprietor thought it was finest to hunt some assist when “As if by magic the shopkeeper appeared” or on this case a husky grumpy previous git (me).

As quickly as I put the entire soggy, smelly oozing mess on the workbench I used to be merely shocked by this apparently unremarkable but infinitely magical little tree. This has sat in a nook, exterior yr after yr, with nearly no intervention or what we’d name ‘care’ and now many years down the street simply look!

The age and character evident on this decided little elm jogged my memory of what attracted me to bonsai within the first place, absolutely the and unfathomable magic of timber and their battle for not simply survival however prosperity.

This little fella has not been repotted, pruned or largely given any care for many years and on a sure degree it’s completely stunning and that simply has to beg the questions above. Nonetheless it’s now gone a bit far and so I’ve to determine the right way to restore its vigour with out killing it within the course of. That’s at all times a tough name with any plant that’s weak like this one is. Expertise dictates getting it rising and bettering its energy earlier than getting concerned in a correct repot. So some cautious administration of the rootball, considered software of vitamins and a prune into secondary progress alongside a spell in my magic tunnel will see the decline step by step being reversed.

It’s my opinion that people repot bonsai FAR too typically and this proves the purpose. Sooner or later the work wants doing however by working too typically we will rob ourselves of an opportunity to see that particular maturity that solely time can create. Conversely we do must know when to leap in earlier than a big decline occurs as on this case. Most people take a look at their soil to find out when to repot. In my expertise it’s the tree that exhibits us when the time is true and the soil/drainage is of little or no consequence as long as the talent to handle it correctly is instantly handy.

Having been at this bonsai malarkey for therefore lengthy now I determine I’ve seen most issues however this repotting approach actually is on the market. I suppose it goes to indicate, as I at all times wish to say, language is vital. Not everybody is aware of the distinction between what we name repotting, what gardeners name repotting (truly potting on), slip potting and any of the opposite phrases utilized with homosexual abandon.

So, what’s to be performed? This tree has huge roots rising out of the unique pot (that’s now 100% wooden inside) by means of the drainage holes and the cracks. I broke out as a lot as I may and packed the gaps with new soil. I’ve trimmed off the intense backside of the rootball and fluffed up the aspect.  Afterwards I put the remaining, intensive root ball right into a deep bonsai pot (on the house owners request) that was fully buried. Lastly a tough reduce into secondary progress after eradicating all of the lifeless stuff. That adopted by a stint in a particular nook of my greenhouse ought to see new buds pushing out in a few weeks time at which level I’ll start introducing slightly seaweed sometimes. Hopefully inside 2 seasons will probably be again to full energy at which period I can type out the rootball correctly.

Lately I spend most of my time nursing sickly timber again to well being (we purchase plenty of collections). In our shitty UK local weather this may take loads longer than it’d do however hey-ho!

My most well-liked plan of action on this case is properly defined right here…



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