2019 Prunus Mume vs Japanese Maple repot

I was taught to go easy on Ume roots, and once the large roots are reduced to the point where the tree can sit comfortably in the pot, look at repotting as a soil change. This s quite the opposite of Japanese Maple repots, where each root should be carefully arranged to create the spreading nebari. How does it look? Here are shots of this year’s Ume repot.

Combed out:

Placed back in the 14″ Sam Miller pot, new soil added, straight akadama:

Watered in.

Here is the Japanese Maple repot.

Prepare the pot, an 18.5″ wide, 2″ deep Yamaaki.

It took 30 minutes to get the soil combed out and the roots exposed to this point:

Once they’re combed out to this point, start to remove roots from the bottom, which are growing down or emerging from the bottom. This is absolutely essential to developing the spreading nebari becoming visible from above. Then, using the root hook, comb all remaining roots outward from the center:

View from above:

Then, trim all the way around the perimeter:

Finally, the heavy roots extending at the 6:00 position are shortened:

The tree is positioned back into the pot carefully, and the planting depth is decreased just a little, around 1/8″ to begin exposing a little more of the widening base. This will be evident by the dark ring showing just above the soil surface when repotting is complete. Over time, I will allow this to show more and more. However, doing this too soon will stall out the desirable widening.

Wired in tightly:

All akadama soil used, working into the roots carefully and thoroughly with a chopstick.

Watered in:

Chopped sphagnum moss added to the soil surface to retain a little moisture:

And a few days later…


The Cycle Continues: Japanese Maple 2018

A one-year update on this thread.

This maple is getting close to “show-ready” again. It went to the 2012 US National Bonsai Exhibition, and since that time, I have been working to improve the base, correct some structural flaws, and heal a couple pruning scars left by correcting said structural flaws. Here is a shot in late November just before leaf-fall.

And here it is leafless a few days later:

Several branches are thickening and need to be replaced with finer shoots. Where would you prune the branch below:

Below is the after shot. The goal is to prune back to a bifurcated pair of about the same size.

One area of very slow progress has been this thread graft which has languished for both of the last two growing seasons it has been knitting. This may be due to the fact that the scion split at the entrance hole and was attached by no more than a toothpick’s width. Fortunately it managed to live, but unfortunately it has been very slow.

In the photo below, notice how the scion was positioned with a bud very close to the exit hole? That was quite deliberate and may provide something to prune back to in the future.

It’s about 18″ long now, and firmly enough attached that I decided to wire some movement into it. Maybe by next year, it will be ready to separate. Part of the wiring was to angle the tip up toward the light and encourage it to gain strength.

After the first round of pruning, some wire was added to move a few wayward branches into position.

I stopped here and brushed it with Lime Sulfur to lighten and even out the tones:

Often when I get to this point, I find it helpful to take a photo of the tree and work on the areas that jump out as needing attention. What do you see in the shot below:

Here are the areas that jumped out to me:

And here is the shot after those areas were addressed:

A few steps closer to a showable tree.

Here is a 10-year old throwback shot to 2008:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all. Thanks for reading along this year. More to come in 2019!

Japanese Maple repotting

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…