If you haven’t seen a chojubai Quince in person, their tiny scale may come as a surprise. Leaves are the size of Chinese elm, even Seiju elm. They grow strongly in the summer, and always seem to have a few flowers opening. In the fall, the flower production really picks up and adds some nice color to the bench:
This summer, I noticed this one was becoming a bit anemic, with pale foliage and weak growth. They always seem to slow down vegetative growth in mid summer, but this one started to concern me:
As I thought back, I couldn’t remember repotting it since at least 2014. Michael Hagedorn recommends fall repotting for Chojubai, and while I do not like fall repotting, he really knows his stuff, so I thought I’d give it a try. In late September, I combed out the soil, pruned the roots back by a third and replaced the soil, using akadama, lava, and pumice in equal proportions.
And less than a month later, the color and vigor is already noticeably improved:
Pot quiz: who made it?
Answer: Bigei. Did you get it right? His rich, chocolate, burnished clays are unmistakable.
Here is a Ben that belongs to a friend. I don’t think he has any other bonsai trees, but has had this one for a very long time. I repotted it for him a few years ago, and he mentioned last week it was looking weak and maybe it needed to be repotted. Last time, it barely came out of the pot, but it did, and I managed to trim it back enough to get it back into the original pot. Here is how it arrived today. Unfortunately, the pot broke this time as I was working to extract the tree.
So I played around with a few pot choices as a replacement…
Deep-sided Koyo (he must be a really good friend, right?), it is a bit constrictive, too deep, and the glaze is not a fit
Production-grade Japanese unglazed rectangle, around 14″ wide and 2.5″ deep:
DaSu “fossil” special process pot. This is actually one of my first pots. I bought it around 1996. It’s a tad small, but the color is nice with the foliage. If I was determined, this could work:
A pot with “Lotus” written on the bottom. I bought it in Highlands, NC for $20. It’s a maybe, but I don’t like the foot out front for this one:
I won’t make you wait a week on this ficus-pot matchup. I went with the Japanese unglazed rectangle. After combing out the matted roots and lightly trimming the downward-facing roots, the remaining root ball looked pretty promising:
Secured to the pot:
And soil worked in carefully to all the crevices:
And leveled off:
Here’s the money shot:
And as it turns out, I couldn’t just toss out the pot. Using some epoxy and painter’s tape, I put it back together again. I just had to remind my friend that his ficus has officially outgrown it!
Thanks for playing along. Here was the count as of yesterday:
Bag-shaped unglazed: 0
Round Sara Rayner: 4
Oribe Koyo: 5
Yellow Chinese: 6
Interestingly, for a while, the Sara Rayner was the early favorite. Mine too, but ultimately, I went with the vintage Chinese rectangle. It was the best fit, though not perfect; and I liked the pot color with the new foliage color. Later, I think I’d go with a wider, shallow oval, but for now, here is the pick:
I let it grow out for a month or so after repotting:
Then gave it a bit of a haircut:
At some point I will reduce the left stub and it will look more like a single-trunk tree with a good-sized left branch.
Happy Independence Day to the US readers!