Monday, December 17, 2012

When You Should Re-potting Your Bonsai

Re-potting an established bonsai is never as difficult as creating a new bonsai. The reason is fairly simple: the roots of a root-bound tree are the exact shape of the container, while the roots of a plant in a nursery pot bear little resemblance to the shape of the bonsai pot.

sign for re-potting bonsai
Bonsai Sign for Re-potting
image source:hv66bonsai.be

Read the Sign from your Bonsai


Bonsai are re-potted and root-pruned at intervals dictated by the vigor and age of each tree. In the case of deciduous trees, this is done as the tree is leaving its dormant period, generally around springtime. Bonsai are often re-potted while in development, and less often as they become more mature. This prevents them from becoming pot-bound and encourages the growth of new feeder roots, allowing the tree to absorb moisture more efficiently.

Of course, you have to know when to re-pot a plant. The following are indications that your bonsai is ready for re-potting:
1. Roots are growing through the screen that covers the drainage holes on the bottom of the bonsai container.
2.The tree dries out more quickly than it should
3.The tree is growing fast, is full of healthy growth, and requires frequent pinching. These are signs of a fast developing root system.
4.The roots seem to have raised the tree in the container.



If you observe any of those signs, look at the plant’s root system. Do not hesitate to look at the tree’s roots. Too often beginning students fear that looking at the roots will harm the tree but that is not true.

How to Find Out if a Bonsai is Root-bound?

To look at the roots, do not pull the tree out of the pot. The best and easiest way to find out if a tree is root-bound is to turn the container over and gently slip the pot off, a procedure that does not harm the tree. It is much better to check the roots often, in this manner, than to allow the tree to go into decline. Young bonsai should be checked every year. As tree age, the interval between re-potting become longer.

If no roots are visible and you see only soil, return the plant to the pot. But if the roots have spread to the edge of the soil or across the bottom of the soil, and no loose soil falls off, it’s time to re-pot.

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