ROOTS AND RE-POTTING
by Peter Snart
The most important exercise in bonsai cultivation
You only carry this out every few years so make the most of the chance by taking time and doing all that needs to be done
The time of year is critical, just before new growth is the optimum time
Plan the operation , have everything to hand, growing mix prepared, know what is going to be done
Carefully remove tree from pot and examine the visible roots before doing anything, look for problems
Remove some or all of old growing medium , maybe wash rootball, this depends on many factors
Prune roots you cannot improve the root system without pruning to encourage new growth
On many species , eg. all deciduous species, the nebari is critically important , you should always do what you can to make improvements
Correctly prepare pot , if possible this should be done before you start but this is cannot always be done
Place some growing medium in the pot , the overriding characteristic of your mix should be it’s granular structure , to give you a really free draining soil
Take time to position the tree with the best front , the appropriate inclination , height in pot , etc.
Wire the tree very securely into pot , this is most important
If appropriate take time to place surface roots in best position, use wire if needed
Fill pot to correct level with growing mix , take time to work soil in and around roots , leave no unfilled cavities
When completely happy take to an area where adequate watering-in can be carried out, you should water continuously until the water running from drainage holes is clear , this means you have washed out any residual dust.
Bear in mind that some particular after care may be appropriate , protect from frost , place away from the effects of wind, in the recovery period excessive rainfall will be undesirable
These are only guidelines , each tree is a special case , species, age , stage of development, health, the way you personally pursue the hobby, the particular conditions of your own garden, your own level of experience , are all factors to be taken into account
Remember, the purpose of the school is to give you the information and techniques to provide optimum conditions for your bonsai , you may need to adapt this information to meet your own needs , particularly if it is NOT your intention to become totally obsessed with the art !!!