Another satsuki question

Catagonia

Sapling
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Location
Sacramento
USDA Zone
9b
Newbie here , Sacramento region, zone 9b.

I just bought my first satsuki azalea, from Brussel’s (through Amazon).
21082AAC-69A0-439F-A4F1-DEF8E4CE6764.jpeg
It looks so happy!


It seems to have similar issues with dense root mass as the OP in https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/satsuki-not-doing-well.53350/
A4C49221-2473-4096-A6D0-21C95C9E2371.jpeg

It has some loose inorganic soil and, I think, pine bark around the edges, but what looks like dense organic soil around the trunk and one side. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the bare portions are raised above the lip of the pot

When poked with tweezers, it is obviously a mat of roots with soil embedded, and it’s so thick I am concerned it will prevent water from filtering through.

It also had some green algae on the soil and rim of pot, which I wiped away. That implies standing water, right?

When I removed fallen leaves with tweezers, I found years’ worth of fallen leaves in various stages of decomposition, mingled with the inorganic soil. So, it seems like it’s been in this pot for quite some time.

The tree seems healthy enough, though.

It sounds like I should wait until Spring and then repot.

Also, I think the tree is getting ready to bloom (?!) Are those buds at the end of the branches? and if so, I assume I should remove them?

79A89326-6F50-4059-82DE-7BC800063DD6.jpeg
I’ve been rotating it between garage and outdoors, since it is hitting just about freezing here overnight, and raining quite a lot (for our region, at least). Maybe it’s too warm?
 
Last edited:

Carol 83

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,303
Reaction score
20,018
Location
IL
I got my first Satsuki from them as well. It is no longer with us. I know Brussel's is a huge commercial nursery and any plants I have received from them were very healthy. However, I hate the soil they use. The soil on my azalea literally turned so hard it would not take up any water. Even poking holes in the soil and soaking it in a bucket didn't help much.
Are those buds at the end of the branches? and if so, I assume I should remove them?
Yes, they are the buds that should bloom this spring. I know many here remove the flower buds to further development of the tree, ect. Personally, the only reason I have them is to enjoy the flowers. Hopefully it will make it to spring and you can enjoy the blooms and then repot into better soil.
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,357
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Greetings from the snowy Pacific Northwest

The tree looks mighty fine. The media is a bit wet, at least in the front of the first image. The peat based media is what will govern your Water sparingly to assure the soil is moist not wet.

If you have a bit more of the same media around, I’d sprinkle a bit more on top to cover the finer roots showing. It looks familiar like someone knocked it out of the nursery container, cut off the bottom roots (normal operation) and stuffed it in a pot and tossed a bit of inorganic media around the sides and top edges. No worries right now yet check the peat based media not the inorganic media when thinking about watering.

Repot in late winter by you. You can leave the flower buds or remove these. It doesn’t look too warm, but it did come from Brussel’s! Your call. No worries. This lol guy is gonna need a cut down this year any ways.

…..also when you do a repot, please do a complete root wash.
…. finally

cheers
DSD sends
 
Last edited:

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,357
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
I got my first Satsuki from them as well. It is no longer with us. I know Brussel's is a huge commercial nursery and any plants I have received from them were very healthy. However, I hate the soil they use. The soil on my azalea literally turned so hard it would not take up any water. Even poking holes in the soil and soaking it in a bucket didn't help much.
Absolutely not saying this should be done here as Idont have the tree in front of me…. yet in the spirit of imparting knowledge.

I’ve been known to unpot recalcitrant draining bonsai that I want to wait on repotting or even when repotting and not wanting to take all the media away at one in azaleas, conifers etc. Then use 1/4” drill bit in my drill and carefully bore holes in the root mass to improve the drainage.

Finally backfill the holes gently with similar, yet well draining media. In this case with a peat based media I just mix in lots of perlite. Never lost one of the trees treated like this yet.

btw: for those Peter Chan bashers on site, I got this idea from Peter. Yet also saw Peter Warren do this to an old azalea with a chop sticks. Result turned out the same imho.

cheers
DSD sends
 

Catagonia

Sapling
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Location
Sacramento
USDA Zone
9b
Thanks! I do plan to enjoy the flowers. I was wondering if it might be better to remove them since I just got the plant (Dec 8) and the stress of of travel and sudden temperature difference could push it to flower too early.

I’ll do the complete wash —

I wasn’t expecting much from a sight-unseen online purchase, but the condition and styling of the tree sort of surprised me. I wasn’t expecting the “sportsfan whose team is winning” style. Or is it the “toddler who wants up” style? Either way, I think it’s going to change.

Re: drill bit, I had the same idea! I’ve been known to do some unwise tinkering from time to time. But I didn’t think of inserting media. I’ll keep it in mind.
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,357
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
That’s an issue with nursery trees. Straight up trunk…. and with azaleas a wheelspoke of branches on top of that!

I ends up repotting on an angle, chopping most everything except one thin branch angling down that I can wire further down if needed and one long thin one that comes out on the other side at an angle to be wired as the apex…. With cuts sealed, smooth and just flush above the trunk.

Heart wrenching for me, but it has to be done.

btw: You might try Riverbend gardens if you want azalea grown for styling. These are younger, yet much more fun if you want to learn how to develop azalea bonsai from the gitgo.

Best
DSD sends
 

Catagonia

Sapling
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Location
Sacramento
USDA Zone
9b
Update, I repotted this and a couple of other plants (including another Brussels satsuki) and despite being careful, removing the soil removed probably 85% of the roots. The medium was almost unworkable even after soaking. That was last week, though, and the first plant and his equally pot bound satsuki brother still look ok.

It was interesting how different the media in the two Brussels satsuki were. One was chock full of thumbnail-sized thin wood chips while the other one had quite a bit of gravel embedded. Both seemed mostly peat though.
 

Bricker918

Yamadori
Messages
90
Reaction score
170
Location
Sacramento, CA
Have you been to maruyama bonsai nursery yet? They have a ton of azaleas and other trees as well. They also sell akadama, kanuma(used for azaleas), and a 2:1:1 soil mix
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,357
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Good to hear you are experimenting. The first root wash is always the hardest. I have to say that 85% is a lot of root loss even on a satsuki, but I’ve done that much and most, not all, of that group of satsuki survived. You have a much longer growing season too.

For me, once I put a tree in a Kanuma based media and get rid of the peat and bark chips, it’s much easier to repot. What media did you end up repotting with btw?

From what I’ve heard here, Maruyama has a good reputation for having interesting plants, and sometimes interesting an media mix. Some folks were mentioning styrofoam peanuts in the bottom? Not so strange though. My wife uses styrofoam peanuts as part of her Orchid media.

Lets see what these trees look like in a couple months.

cheers
DSD sends
 

Catagonia

Sapling
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Location
Sacramento
USDA Zone
9b
Have you been to maruyama bonsai nursery yet? They have a ton of azaleas and other trees as well. They also sell akadama, kanuma(used for azaleas), and a 2:1:1 soil mix
I haven’t. I have been wanting to, but the hours conflict with prior commitments (I.e. work on M-F and sleeping in on Saturday). I’ll have to put it on my calendar one of these Saturdays.

I put one in 3x pumice/2x OilDry (sifted*)/1x peat moss for acidity. And the other in 2/1/1 perlite, reptile bark, and chopped up spagnum moss. I have a non bonsai azalea doing well in perlite + peat moss so I started from there. I’m all about experimenting. Too much so, probably. I also put a Brussels pomegranate that I’ve had a while in Stone Lantern’s nonorganic premix.

*disappointingly small yield of 5mm size
 
Last edited:

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,357
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Thanks for that information. Yes you are definitely experimenting.

I guess I’m getting old. When I first started out I, too, was all about experimenting.

Now it’s all about cutting down the variables in my process. I just get the recommended media and stick with it if it works well.

There are so many other variables that I’d rather focus on.

One thing about having a tree live in one’s experimental media, that is all one knows. So you think the media is the best for that tree.

It’s only when you have a couple similar trees side by side in different medias that one has a comparison.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

Bricker918

Yamadori
Messages
90
Reaction score
170
Location
Sacramento, CA
I haven’t. I have been wanting to, but the hours conflict with prior commitments (I.e. work on M-F and sleeping in on Saturday). I’ll have to put it on my calendar one of these Saturdays.

I put one in 3x pumice/2x OilDry (sifted*)/1x peat moss for acidity. And the other in 2/1/1 perlite, reptile bark, and chopped up spagnum moss. I have a non bonsai azalea doing well in perlite + peat moss so I started from there. I’m all about experimenting. Too much so, probably. I also put a Brussels pomegranate that I’ve had a while in Stone Lantern’s nonorganic premix.

*disappointingly small yield of 5mm size
I’m in the same boat most weekends 😂 but the trip is well worth it!
 

JuniperSol

Shohin
Messages
285
Reaction score
206
Location
Georgia
USDA Zone
7b
I remember there being a really good Mirai Live video with Peter Warren about azaleas. If you have the sub already, highly recommend it
 

Catagonia

Sapling
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Location
Sacramento
USDA Zone
9b
I had yesterday off and decided it was time to go to Maruyama Nursery. It was a little hard to find the entrance but I knew I was there when I saw:
9323AA4D-0262-44B8-B2A7-BA666169869B.jpeg
It was really neat. Tons of trees in all stages of development. Not everything was labeled, at least that I could find, so I was a bit lost. Definitely worth the trip.BEE1A80F-0379-4453-BE4C-4105ACA7AAF1.jpeg
There were quite a few of these blasted looking trunks with new growth. I don’t know what style it is considered, but I really liked them.
 

Catagonia

Sapling
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Location
Sacramento
USDA Zone
9b
Here we go, the update nobody asked for!

The repotting seems to be a success despite the root butchery. My little azalea and his slightly larger brother look mostly green and happy again.

A77F11D0-FDC2-44B2-BB31-D643BE96EF07.jpeg

BA68DDA2-6362-4CF5-8EC7-AD785AC60607.jpeg


I took off a good bit of foliage and all but one flower bud from the problem child and a bit of foliage from the larger one. Other than that I plan to leave them alone for a while other than a bit of fertilizer.
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,357
Reaction score
4,521
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Interesting and you couldn’t go wrong using this basic outline to get you going in the right direction! Doesn’t address the facets of long term pruning, timing on wiring, styling techniques, misses preflowering fertilizing etc.… probably on purpose…. it would take a lot more then one sheet of paper. Maybe that’s on another not posted…

In short, totally how things are done nowadays, but it’s written by one awesome bonsai Superhero! Richard Ota, who was one of the authors of Satsuki Techniques

I’d save a copy of this for sure!

cheers
DSD sends
 

Catagonia

Sapling
Messages
36
Reaction score
44
Location
Sacramento
USDA Zone
9b
I saw that in another thread and spent some time deciphering it! I think I understand the informal flowchart structure.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom