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Root Pruning

ROOT PRUNING AND REPOTING

TOOLS  CONTAINERS   SOIL MIX  ROOT INSPECTION  ROOT PRUNING  REPOTING   AFTER CARE

 

All house and pot plants like Ferns, African violets, Orchids and Delicious monsters that are in containers, irrespective of the size of the container, should be repotted in new soil and root pruned at least every two to four years, depending on the type of plant, to prevent them of becoming pot bound and die. All potted plants should be repotted regularly to revitalise the soil and provide more soil space for the roots.

Why is it necessary ??? If a potted plant is not repotted and / or root pruned regularly, the roots develop to a stage where there is no more space available in the container, and the root ball compacts the soil between the roots. When water is given to the plant it runs between the roots and the inside of the container straight through to the drainage holes. 

But, pot plants are cheap and if they die we just buy a new one. In the meantime we could have prolonged it’s life by at least ten to twenty years. Bonsai is also a potted plant and for the same reason it should also be root pruned and repotted regularly. Not to keep it small like some people think, but to revitalise the soil to extend it’s life to hundreds of years. Removing the taproot alone will not stunt the tree’s growth.

In the art of bonsai we do not stunt a plant’s growth, but promote growth and prune it back to redirect the sap flow in the direction we want it to develop. 

 

ROOT PRUNING IS A ART, THE SAME AS TOP GROWTH PRUNING.

 

 

TOOLS

 

 

TOOLS  IN  KIT  FORM

 

There are various bonsai tools available for different applications. The most common shear is the leaf pruner which has a long thin nose for reaching the inside of the top growth easily thus preventing breaking or damaging of the fine and delicate leaves and branch lets.

 

 

 

Another shear that will be used is the branch cutter . This cutter is made more robust, but with the same precise sharp edges as the leaf cutter , the cutting edges are in a “ v ” shape . Removing a branch with a branch cutter, it cuts into the wood at a angle enabling the bark to cover the wound.
 

 

 

 

The knob cutter is used to clean out a wound after a branch has been removed to allow the bark to cover the cut.
The knob cutter has a round mouth to eat into the heartwood of the tree.

 

 

 

The last shear is the root cutter that has a flat mouth

for cutting clean and straight.

 

 

After the tree shears comes the wire cutters
and tongs for use with wire shaping.
 

 

 

 

BONSAI  CONTAINERS

 

Bonsai containers come in all sizes, shapes and colours. Some people believe they should not be glazed, others believe they should. Some people say they should not be glazed on the inside but on the outside only, others don’t care.

Most local bonsai pots available are made in earth ware. They look beautiful but most do not last. The reason for this is, these pots are baked at less than one thousand degrees, and the glaze starts to “ crease “. After a few winter seasons, the pot start to crack. The reason for this is the cold wet conditions in winter. As the soil cools down to freezing point the glaze cracks and the water begins to penetrate and soften the clay, eventually the pot cracks.

Bonsai friend manufactures it’s own stoneware containers that are baked at a thousand two hundred degrees and is glazed inside and out. Personally, i prefer a bonsai container to be glazed inside and out as this makes root inspection much easier. If the container is not glazed on the inside and you want to remove the root ball from the container, the fine feeder roots grow attached to the unglazed inside of the container and break off as you remove the tree from the bonsai container for root inspection.
 

 

 

Oval Bonsai Pot 1          Oval Bonsai Pot  2          Oval Bonsai Pot  3          Oval Bonsai Pot 5

           OV  1                                            OV  2                                              OV  3                                           OV  5              

 

Square Bonsai Pot 1          Square Bonsai Pot 2          Square Bonsai Pot 3          Square Bonsai Pot 4

SQ  1                                           SQ  2                                            SQ  3                                              SQ  4

 

Square Bonsai Pot 5          Square Bonsai Pot 10          Octagon Bonsai Pot          Square Bonsai Pot

SQ  5                                     OV  10                                        OCT                                         SQ  8     

 

SOIL  MIX

THE SOIL TO BE USED FOR BONSAI IS VERY IMPORTANT. THE SOIL MIX DETERMINES THE BONSAI TREE’S CONDITION, THE GROWING RATE AND THE INTAKE OF FOOD.

THE SOIL MUST BE LIGHT, RICH AND WELL DRAINED WITH A LOT OF SHARP EDGED OBSTRUCTIONS, LIKE WASHED RIVER SAND.

IT SHOULD NOT KEEP TOO MUCH MOISTURE FOR TOO LONG.

 

The main reason for this is, wetting the soil thoroughly, slows down temporarily, the growth of the fine feeder roots . When the soil slightly dries out but remains moist , fresh air containing oxygen is pulled into the soil as the water level drops and the soil particles shrink, thus creating a micro moist atmosphere in the soil . Allowing space for the fine feeder roots to search the soil for dissolved food so providing, a vital process for a healthy, vigorous root growth and development . When the soil is saturated again the whole process is repeated and the old air is pushed out of the soil . Soil that stays too wet too long results in root rot, as no oxygen can enter the soil and the roots are drowned .

 

BONSAI FRIEND USES THE FOLLOWING BONSAI SOIL MIX .

One and a half buckets red topsoil . 25 lt .

( red topsoil is a light red clay soil that keeps the mix together )

One and a half buckets ordinary garden soil .

( to prevent the bonsai mix of becoming to clayish )

One bucket seedling soil . 25 lt .

( to lighten the mix and as it dries out make space for the feeder roots to develop. Available at nurseries )

Two buckets 25 lt of sharp washed river sand .

( Washed river sand is sand builders use to mix into concrete ) 

( Which is used for concrete slabs and house floors, it is a sharp light brown sand )

One bucket of vermiculite medium size .

( for loosening the soil mix and to maintain moisture in the soil mix . Available at nurseries)

( As the vermiculite disintegrates it creates space for the new fine feeder roots to develop )

 

To this mix we add :

A small handful of bone meal .

A small handful of blood meal .

A small handful of agriculture lime .

A small handful of super phosphate

 
 

Washed River Sand          Organic Compost          Sifted seedling soil

                               

Medium Vermiculite          Bonsai Soil Mix

 

River sand must be washed before it is mixed into the soil for removal of excess dust and clay . To wash the sand, fill a 25 lt bucket halfway with river sand, put a hose pipe in the bucket and open the tap . Not too much, just enough to obtain a steady overflow of water . Use your hand to lift the sand and to swish around in the bucket. You will notice a lot of reddish dust will wash out. Keep on mixing the sand until all redness is eliminated and the water is clear.

 This soil mix will last for at least four to five years in the bonsai container, provided the tree is regularly fed with

NITROSOL* NATURAL ORGANIC PLANT FOOD .

 

Bucket filled with river sand               Open hosepipe                Rotate soil with hand

 

Wash till water is clean            Discard of fine red dust            All the red clay is washed out

 

 

ROOT  INSPECTION

 

Root inspection is done yearly to determine when the roots should be pruned .

STEP : 1
Allow the bonsai soil to dry out for a full day ( 24 hours ).

STEP : 2
Take the bonsai pot in both hands and push both your index fingers slowly through the two drainage holes, the entire  root ball complete with soil should lift out of the pot .

( if this does not happen and only the outside of the soil lifts, the bonsai tree does not need repotting )
 

 

Root inspection Step 1          Root inspection Step 2

 

STEP : 3

Holding the bonsai pot in your left hand, place your right hand on top of the topsoil with the bonsai stem between your index and your next finger .
 

Root inspection Step 3

 

STEP : 4

Tilt the pot upside down and remove the pot from the root ball .

 

 

Root inspection Step 4          Root inspection Step 4          Root inspection Step 4

 

BONSAI TREE READY FOR ROOT PRUNING AND REPOTTING

 

STEP :5
If the roots have grown around the inside of the container it is time for root pruning . If only thin feeder roots are visible the tree can be left for another year without root pruning .
 

Root inspection Step 5

BONSAI TREE NOT READY FOR REPOTTING
 

 

ROOT PRUNING  AND  REPOTTING

BEFORE STARTING TO DO ROOT PRUNING MAKE SURE

ALL THE NECESSARY EQUIPMENT IS READY .

CHECK LIST

The new bonsai container
The bonsai soil and the bonsai gravel
Sieves for the drainage holes ( We use 40% shade net )
A hacksaw or a hacksaw blade or a sharp knife
A container with water for submerging the tree into after repotting

Root pruning is normally done in late winter just before a bonsai tree starts to bud .

A good indicator are the trees in the veld , as they begin to bud it is time to repot your bonsai.

As soon as the buds start to swell we know that spring is on the way .

Root pruning should always be performed early in the morning or late afternoon,

when the sap flow in the tree is at the lowest,otherwise the tree will loose too much moisture .

 

Allow the tree to dry out for twenty four hours before root pruning is performed .

Place the sieves over the drainage holes .

 

Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting

 

FILL THE BOTTOM OF THE BONSAI CONTAINER WITH AT LEAST
ONE TO TWO CENTIMETRES OF BONSAI SOIL .

 

Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting

 

UPLIFT THE BONSAI TREE OUT OF THE POT
AS EXPLAINED PREVIOUSLY IN ROOT INSPECTION .

 

Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting

 

PLACE THE ROOT BALL FLAT ON A TABLE, TAKE A HACKSAW OR A SHARP KNIFE,
REMOVE ONE CENTIMETRE OF SOIL AND ROOTS ON ALL SIDES OF THE ROOT BALL .

 

Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting

 

SMALL BONSAI CUT ONE CENTIMETRE OFF ALL ROUND AND AT THE BOTTOM
MEDIUM BONSAI CUT BETWEEN TWO AND THREE CENTIMETRE OFF ALL ROUND AND AT THE BOTTOM
BIG BONSAI CUT UP TO FIVE CENTIMETRE OFF ALL ROUND AND AT THE BOTTOM

Tilt the remaining root ball on its side and remove at least one centimetre of soil and roots at the bottom of the root ball . On bigger trees cut off one centimetre of soil and loosen the remaining bottom soil and roots with a fork and check how much soil and roots can still be removed . Never remove more than a third of the roots at one time, as the roots can be repruned next year .

Position the root ball in the new container and fill the gaps with bonsai soil .

Slightly compress the new soil, but not too much then level the soil off .

 

Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting          Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting

 

SLOWLY SUBMERGE THE POT IN THE WATER TO THE BRIM
AND SOAK UNTIL ALL AIR BUBBLES HAVE CEASED .

Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting

 

REMOVE THE TREE FROM THE WATER AND GENTLY PLACE IT DOWN
IN A SHADY AREA TO DRAIN OFF SURPLUS WATER .

Bonsai Root Pruning and Repotting

 

 

AFTER  CARE

Once the excess water has drained off, place the tree in a position where it will receive no direct sun,

                            but very bright light and a constant temperature for the next two to four weeks .                            

Out of wind and draught as this can only dry out the leaves and induce die - back .

Feeding can start three months after repotting .

Do not water the tree the next day as the soil will still be moist enough .

Start watering the bonsai tree from the second day after repotting,

in the mornings only for the next week and from the second week thereafter, water the tree as normal .

As and when the tree starts to produce new growth, apply leaf nipping for the rest of the growing season .