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.

Unpotted:

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:

After:

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:

Back:

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:

Pruning and wiring Shimpaku, along with a repot

I’ve had this one for almost 10 years now. The last couple years have resulted in a committed design direction.

After first major work in December 2018:

It was repotted in 2019, with significant root work, and allowed to grow freely for a year.

And after detail wiring during the COVID lockdown in April 2020:

And of course, it was all dressed up with nowhere to go…so I let it go again for the rest of the year.

Unwired and lightly pruned, deadwood scrubbed, and a fresh coat of diluted lime sulfur applied:

In February 2021, it was time to continue the work. Removing heavy areas of foliage, to establish some balance is first; by removing weak growth, crotch growth, strong runners, and downward facing growth.

Leaving an alternating shoot pattern, like this:

Then wire is applied. I try to start with heavier wire to establish a path, passing wires just behind a branch, like this:

Allowing the second wire to go along the blue line:

Like this:

And repeating, working outward until all branches are wired.

Then they’re fanned out into pads:

Shots along the way:

Looking at the results so far, a few areas need to be addressed:

Specifically these areas:

I also tightened up several branches with some guy wires, and ended up here:

Next up, a new pot. Here are two that would work.

On the left is a soft-corners Yamaaki, a pot I really like and have struggled to use. On the right is an 8-sided antique Chinese replica by Keizan or Yozan…can’t remember. Anyway, it’s one I bought for this tree years ago, so let’s see if it fits, after 10 years of reducing the roots down through 3 different pots.

Yep. A few chopsticks were necessary to stabilize it in the pot.

New soil worked in, a coarse blend of lava, pumice, and akadama.

Watered in, and ready for the year. The pot is a bit wide…or substantial-looking for the sparse top. By mid summer, it should be nicely balanced, as the tree fills out and widens:

Nice night shot a few days later:

Repotting Chinese Quince

While I love the oval Koyo and think it’s a great fit for showtime, it is a bit too small for daily use.

This year, it was reported into a wider, shallower vintage Heian Kouso pot.

Minor root work; simply combed out the very fuzzy roots (which grew up and into the fertilizer cakes used this year), and removed some large downward-facing roots from the bottom.

Fresh soil (akadama and lava 2:1) was worked in, and top-dressed with some small grain akadama.

Since it has started growing already (work done on Feb 10), it will need to be protected from the inevitable sub-freezing nights we will have over the next 3-5 weeks. It is also time to apply lime-sulfur to fight against aphid and cedar-Apple fungus which plagues this tree.