This is about the 13th annual repotting for this one. It can’t make it two years between, but last year, I went easy on it due to a new graft that I didn’t want to ruin after 2 years of growing out the scion. That meant this years work would take some time. In fact, it took some time to just get it out of the pot!
Best to prepare the pot first, with a single course of medium akadama:
Then, through several rounds of combing out, spraying out, and cutting back, the roots started to become orderly:
Notice how it’s been planted deeper than would show off the widening base? The reason is to continue the widening, which happens underground. So, once a year I get to admire the progress…for now. Eventually it will be above grade.
Flip it over, and remove anything growing downward out of the base and, heavy roots, and swelling. This helps widen the base and also allows planting into a shallower pot.
With a new haircut, and roots arranged radially, it was wired back into the pot for another year:
And ready for the year…
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!