Changing Clothes, RMJ to Itoigawa 2020 update part 2

Last week, we looked at separating the Itoigawa roots from the graft, which forced the foliage to survive from the RMJ roots. It has been 6 months since separation and repotting, and the tree is doing ok. I have reduced the RMJ foliage on the right side, not touched the Itoigawa foliage, and have noticed a few problems.

The right Itoigawa graft is mostly healthy, except the apex, which began dying back:

And a couple long, stronger branches began to pale and weaken too:

What could be wrong? The tree is otherwise healthy, and as I thought about it, it occurred to me that the RMJ roots were unable to support the growth of the quantity of Itoigawa foliage. Maybe this is because of a natural slower pace of growth in RMJ roots, or the recent repotting diminished their capacity.

So, after cleaning up the dead portion, I started to thin out the Itoigawa foliage.



A close up, showing how to prune runners and growth from the crotches of branches, and to leave alternating secondary branches with relatively balanced tufts of foliage:

Next up, the remaining RMJ foliage. Removing this should also reduce the demand on the roots. This is all that remains of the original foliage:


The left graft isn’t looking stellar, but so far it is still alive.

The original RMJ past the graft has died, and the Itoigawa foliage is pale, so it is possible I’ll lose the graft too. I can still work with the right side only, but I did want to leave options to use the left trunk in the design if I needed it. We’ll see how this plays out. For now, the graft appears to have callused well, but I am waiting until spring to separate it.

And now, the “changing of clothes” is complete.

Changing Clothes, RMJ to Itoigawa 2020 update part 1

This project is 6 years in the making, 8 if you go all the way back to when I collected the tree in 2013. I grafted it with itoigawa in 2014, and finally had the confidence to separate it in March of 2020.

Original post:

First update:

And now we’re current. I repotted the tree after 4 years.

I had previously removed the field soil from the front half of the tree, and the roots were growing well into the bonsai soil, so I didn’t disturb that area too much:

And now it was time to remove the remaining field soil from the back half of the tree:

Notice the difference in condition? Doing half at a time keeps the relatively recently collected tree strong.

Now it’s in all bonsai soil. I changed the planting angle just a little in preparation for styling the tree to move to the right, and accentuate the live vein and movement of the base.

Next up, the graft. It’s had 6 years, and it’s clearly attached in places. It has grown well, and each year, I reduced the live vein connecting the Itoigawa to its original roots:

Time to cut ties…

For now, I’ll keep the other trunk’s graft attached. Although, it seems to have taken.

This will provide more styling options later.

So, here it is for now:

Shohin Shimpaku summer cleanup


Foliage cleaned up, undersides and dense areas only:

Soji, cleaning up the soil and adding a fresh top layer to get it through the rest of summer:

Work completed for now.

The pot is by Shinobu, an award-winning Shohin pot maker whose work is regularly featured at the Gafu-ten exhibition each winter in Japan. I think it’s a fantastic fit.

Incidentally, this composition is 5 years along from an air layer.