Advice on nursery stock mugo pine

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A friend gifted me with a beautiful little nursery stock mugo pine about 10 inches tall and 14 inch canopy. It has a nice trunk but of course way too many branches etc. When I lifted it from the 1/2 gallon pot it was in I found it was severely rootbound. It is mid September here in zone 6 so I think it is past time to repot. According to the Vance wood guidance repotting should probably wait until next August. In the meantime what should I do with it until spring? My inclination is to slip pot it as it is so rootbound it takes very little water. What do you all think?
 

Paradox

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Pictures would really help.

I know you said you are in zone 6 but that says nothing about what kind of summer you have, only your colder weather.
Please put your location on your profile so we dont have to keep asking you where you are and we can give you the best advice
 
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Thanks for willingness to share, Paradox! I am relatively new to bonsainut so didn’t even know I had a profile (which I have now updated!). I have not taken any pics but will post ASAP. It is a typical dwarf mugo, globular bush shape. I am pretty confident stylistically what will need to be done. My main concern is the severely rootbound condition. I can’t even poke a chopstick in the “soil” and water just streams out when I water it. I tried sitting it in a bucket to absorb water which helped but it’s really just solid roots. I am afraid to let it stay in the pot as is over the winter but it’s now too late to actually repot. Summers here are hot and humid and this year fairly dry lately. I imagine it has been sitting in the nursery for a few months (I just got it).
 

Carol 83

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Welcome to the forum. I know nothing about Mugos lol.
 

Paradox

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Thanks for willingness to share, Paradox! I am relatively new to bonsainut so didn’t even know I had a profile (which I have now updated!). I have not taken any pics but will post ASAP. It is a typical dwarf mugo, globular bush shape. I am pretty confident stylistically what will need to be done. My main concern is the severely rootbound condition. I can’t even poke a chopstick in the “soil” and water just streams out when I water it. I tried sitting it in a bucket to absorb water which helped but it’s really just solid roots. I am afraid to let it stay in the pot as is over the winter but it’s now too late to actually repot. Summers here are hot and humid and this year fairly dry lately. I imagine it has been sitting in the nursery for a few months (I just got it).

Take a screwdriver (Philips preferably) and use that to poke holes into the soil. Use a hammer to tap it if you need to.

Do not repot it now. It's way too late in the season.
 

BonjourBonsai

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I've got about 6 Mugos that were in a very similar condition when I purchased them. I half balled them over the summer. When I cut half the roots off, the roots were mainly circled around the edge of the nursery can and there was a lot of pine bark in the middle. Lift the tree out of the can and look at the bottom. I bet the roots are less dense there and you can see some bark. That should give you some comfort that it retains some moisture when you water it.
 
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sorce

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I wouldn't worry a lick, of ice cream off the bottom of a bushy moustache, about it surviving just fine without messing with it.

Pics!

Sorce
 

Cosmos

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Does the tree need repotting? Does water pool at the surface, is needle colour off?

If the tree needs repotting, I’d do it now if your first true frost is likely to be in 8 weeks+ (and if heat waves look over for the year). I know nothing about Kentucky climate.
 
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Thanks everyone! I did poke some holes with a Phillips screwdriver as well as looking at the bottom where, yes the roots are less dense in the center but still a mess/mass. 😂. So I have tried to compromise on the yes repot/no repot conflicting advice and have slip potted which was my first inclination. I really do appreciate everyone’s input! I have attached a couple of pics as requested. It’s a little hard to see but there is an interesting curvy trunk line under all those branches.
 

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Paradox

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Thanks everyone! I did poke some holes with a Phillips screwdriver as well as looking at the bottom where, yes the roots are less dense in the center but still a mess/mass. 😂. So I have tried to compromise on the yes repot/no repot conflicting advice and have slip potted which was my first inclination. I really do appreciate everyone’s input! I have attached a couple of pics as requested. It’s a little hard to see but there is an interesting curvy trunk line under all those branches.

The tree looks healthy. I wouldn't worry about it and do the repotting at the appropriate time.
 

AcerAddict

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Here's some good info on Mugo Pines: http://bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATMugo Pines Indepth.htm

The section on repotting is halfway down the page. According to the author, they actually do better being repotted in summer, as opposed to late winter/spring like pretty much any other bonsai. However, being that we're a third of the way through September, it may be too late for you to repot now anyway.
 
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AcerAddict, I really appreciate your advice and information, as I do all the other responders. Guess it’s a waiting game until next summer. 😂. Thanks again!
 

Vance Wood

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I usually repot Mugos any time after Fathers day (June 16) thru Labor day, August 31thru Sept 1. This seems to work well. However; as with all things nothing works every time unless you plan to fail. Mugo cultivated from balled in burlap material have a real problem with soils. It is imperative that you cut pie slices into the core of the soil ball every time you repot the tree until the entire field soil mass is replaced. I have over the years lost three large Mugos because this was not done. I succumbed to my own hubris.
 
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Thanks for your response, Mr. Wood! I have read the complication of your advice on mugos on this forum a kazillion times and always process a bit more each time. My plan is to do some branch pruning and general shaping in early spring. Then in August reduce the root mass by about a third. (It is not burlapped but is instead a dwarf [Iseli Introduction] severely rootbound in a 1/2 gallon container.) Would I do several wedges from the roots at that time and then more in August 23? Thanks in advance for your response!
 

Vance Wood

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Thanks for your response, Mr. Wood! I have read the complication of your advice on mugos on this forum a kazillion times and always process a bit more each time. My plan is to do some branch pruning and general shaping in early spring. Then in August reduce the root mass by about a third. (It is not burlapped but is instead a dwarf [Iseli Introduction] severely rootbound in a 1/2 gallon container.) Would I do several wedges from the roots at that time and then more in August 23? Thanks in advance for your response!
How about a picture of the tree? It is probably not important to wedge cut the soil ball. However reducing the soil ball by 50% is crucial. First step: Remove as much loose soil from the top of the soil ball, you know that curd the nurseries are fond of scooping in the top of the container. Hopefully you will discover your nebare, but don't worry about that. Step Two: take a hand saw or sawsall and cut 50% of the remaining soil mass from the bottom of the soil mass. Step three: Take a cop stick and pry loose the roots from around the out side of the soil ball that has grown round and round against the side of the old nursey pot. That's it for now. Place the tree into a colander or pond basket for about three years to develop a find root system. The nature of the soil shold be airable and not prone to compacting. Place the tree in a sheltered location for at leat two weeks and water only when it dries out, probably twice a day in the summer.
 

Vance Wood

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View attachment 397199Here is the tree. Thanks so much for your detailed response! 🤞🏻
You are welcome. I assume the tree is in one of those plastic nursery pots? If so you could remove it from that pot and with your hands scrape the loose dirt, old needles and crud of McDonalds wrappers and old beer cans the nursery used for fillerson trees Just joking but just. Remove all that junk, do not invade the soil ball but go back to where the trunk begins and lets take a look at the base of the tree; the negari. Post a picture of that and let's see wnat we have. Very nice tree by the way.
 

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