Unlike last week’s azalea, this fella is on an annual Repotting cycle. It’s been in straight akadama for the last few years, and the root system is doing very well in it.
I take my time on this tree, combing out the roots carefully, and then hosing out the soil between; repeating the steps several times until the old soil is washed out. It allows me to find and eliminate any of the roots that are growing on the bottom and are trying to get strong. “Planing” the underside of the trunk keeps it spreading out over time.
Wired back in, and planted deep enough to keep those roots growing. One day, it’s going to have a very nice, natural nebari.
This tree has been in a bonsai pot for 13 years now, and while it’s tough to see progress year to year, looking back 10 years shows a different story.
This azalea has been very infrequently repotted; 2008, 2012, and now in 2017. Azalea roots are fibrous, shallow, and small. They dry out quickly in the air, so it is important to keep a hose nearby. It’s been in this production-grade Chinese pot for 9 years, and while it was a good fit, it is ready for a better pot.
Except for an occasional aeration and top-dressing, it’s been repotted into straight kanuma each of the last two repots. Here are the roots, combed out; and as expected, even after 5 years since the last repot:
This time, I added a bit of pumice and lava. The automatic watering system seems to keep things just a little on the wet side, and this should dry just a bit faster:
Before the reveal…and just for fun, here is a look back 10 years…2007:
The new pot is a larger Aiba Koyo; 18.5″ wide, green glaze over a dark clay. The effect is very similar, as this pot is only a couple inches wider. It works pretty well. Can’t wait for blooming season!
Picking up where we left off last week, in the summer of 2016:
Fall color was nice:
And in January 2017, it was pruned back, to replace too-heavy branches with thinner ones, prune long shoots back to a couple buds, and reduce whorles to pairs.
So let’s review. Nearly 3 years ago, here was the tree:
And here was the advice received from a couple pros:
•Not much taper in upper primary branches. Normal for deciduous trees, but it does catch your eye.
•Trunk goes right, top goes left; straighten trunk in pot, fix branches.
•Grow center branch out to thicken it.
•Shorten left branch; too long and straight.
•Middle branches pointing down, lower branches pointing up; make low branches point down, middle branches point out, high branches point up.
•Open area exposes 3 branches at same height.
•Balance foliage; upper left and lower right are strong, upper right and lower left are thin.
Now, fast-forward to February 2017 and it’s time to prune. Before: