Repotting a Japanese Maple

I didn’t get around to repotting this one last year, and it was the first time I skipped a year repotting it in probably 15 years, so I wasn’t looking forward to wrestling it free, and working the roots all the way back. However, it was pretty weak last year, and so the roots weren’t too crazy. Here are some shots of the process, which took about 90 minutes.


Pot cleaned and new drainage mesh applied. 3rd generation Yamaaki. I love this pot with this tree, but the clay is developing small chips around the tie down holes, and one foot. The tree may also be ready for the next size up soon. This one is 19″ wide, and a 20″ would work. But the color is fantastic with the fiery red spring foliage.

First round of combing out the roots, and finding the tie down wire:

Once the wire is removed, it becomes a bit easier to comb out the root ball. I used a hose to remove most of the soil:

With most of the soil gone, the first round of trimming is around the circumference.

Comb everything outward from above.

Then repeat it on the bottom. Before:


Notice how the roots are all radiating outward from the center now? Order from chaos!

Then I returned to working on the topside, combing everything outward, removing roots that were too thick, or growing up or growing down

Continuing around the nebari:


Finally, settled back into the pot. I chose to raise the planting height just a bit more this year to expose more of the base. It is widening nicely, but still has a few areas that need to fill in; most notably the one right in front. Those areas will not fill in when exposed to air, so it’s best to raise the tree a little at a time, and not before it’s ready.

Wired in:

Soil worked in:

Watered, and finally top-dressed with some fine sphagnum moss to keep the shallow roots from drying out:

3 thoughts on “Repotting a Japanese Maple

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