A little more repotting

Round 2. I shifted the Itoigawa from the Sara Rayner to this Sanpo pot, a very traditional rectangle, which is inoffensive, properly-sized, and good enough until I find the “right” one. At least the planting position is corrected, and later this spring I may prune and wire it. It’s been allowed to sit for a couple years.

Freeing up the Sara Rayner pot to test fit with the ginkgo.

Too cheap

Too deep.
Yamafusa, my first Tokoname pot, and the one that went to the 3rd USNBE under my Japanese maple. Here, it’s just too wide for now.

None of those worked as well as the SR, so that was the winner. A bit of a downgrade from the Ino Shukuho, but suitable, deeper, and a decent change of scenery.

Next up, shifting the Shimpaku to a slightly deeper pot, and standing it just a bit more upright. Somehow, it has managed to lean forward just a bit too much, and I’d found myself also leaning in to see the tree from what seemed like the right angle.

3rd generation Yamaaki, one of my favorite pots. Nothing special, just nice.

A few shohin trees as well:

Crabapple, Malus sargentii in a Roy Minarai pot.
Japanese maple, Koyo pot
Fat trident maple absolutely shoe-horned into this Ikkou pot.

More next week…getting through the bulk of the work.

A little delay

On March 5 it was 82f in Birmingham, and on March 12, it was 23f, a 59-degree swing down. Of course the deep freeze wasn’t in the forecast on 2/27 when I started repotting the first of about 10 trees in a few days.

So with freshly-repotted trees on the bench and suddenly a hard freeze coming, what to do? Friday night, as temps dropped from the low 60s to the low 40s, these trees came inside:

  • Anything that was just repotted
  • Anything that has budded out
  • Anything that is marginally hardy in this zone
  • Anything recently grafted

This round, that included the black pines, Itoigawa, Stewartia, trident maples, princess persimmons, Chinese quince, ficus, Ume, hawthorn and olive. 15 trees in all.

And they sat there in the basement from Friday night until Sunday at noon, when temperatures climbed back into the 40s. And it got cold too, a few degrees colder than forecast, and we got snow…a rare event in Birmingham, particularly in March, which stayed on the ground all day Saturday, and through Sunday in the shadows.

Those trees which were still clearly dormant, and had not been repotted were left right in the benches.

Not sure I’ve ever seen the repotting bench sitting mid-season in the snow.

Now that temperatures are stabilizing more, I will attempt to repot the remaining slew in the dwindling window of time left.

While things were inside, I took the opportunity to take a few display photos as well. Enjoy, more repotting adventures to follow.

Trident, Ikkou pot
Princess persimmon, Shuho pot, Chojubai accent.
Chinese Quince, Heian Kouso pot. Accent was used at last year’s USNBE
ROR trident, Ino Shukuho pot.

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: