Exposed Root Satsuki

Alex DeRuiter

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Can anyone speculate on how this look was achieved? Is it from slowly exposing the roots over a long period of time? Do you think they may have used some kind of stilt to keep the tree above the soil while the roots were hardening?


 
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they probibly grew it in a tall slender pot like a 2 liter bottle top and bottom cut off with a nursery pot under it to get the length of root like that and then transplanted it in the ground or large grow box to thicken the roots after a few years. Then pruned it and let them harden off. Thats my guess or how I would go about doing it.
 

monza

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Axxonn
How did you post such big pictures? Linked to a host site?
Thanks
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Tatorger, thank you so much for posting that link! Since I tend to kill satsukis, I may just try this with another species.

Seth, this seems plausible, especially for the size of the tree. In fact, now that I think about it.....maybe the gap between the sets of roots in this particular tree indicate that the root masses were separated in two separate containers...but maybe not.

Monza, that's exactly what I did. You can do that with sites like photobucket too, if you want to post larger pictures of your own trees. Just find the link to the .jpg or other image file, and click the button that looks like a picture (looks like small mountains to me) in the reply window when you're posting.
 

Joedes3

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Can you do this with all trees? This looks fantastic.
 
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Tatorger, thank you so much for posting that link! Since I tend to kill satsukis, I may just try this with another species.

Seth, this seems plausible, especially for the size of the tree. In fact, now that I think about it.....maybe the gap between the sets of roots in this particular tree indicate that the root masses were separated in two separate containers...but maybe not.

Monza, that's exactly what I did. You can do that with sites like photobucket too, if you want to post larger pictures of your own trees. Just find the link to the .jpg or other image file, and click the button that looks like a picture (looks like small mountains to me) in the reply window when you're posting.

Given your climate, killing a satsuki would be easy if you don't monitor your overnight temps... they don't do well at or below freezing. If it's getting anywhere near the lower thirtys, I put mine in the garage at night and I live in zone 8b. Other than that, it would be difficult to kill when treated like any other azalea.

Just a thought to help you be more successful... :)

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Many thanks, Victrinia :D

Yeah, I figured it was the temperatures and my ignorance combined (sounds like some bizzaro Captain Planet scenario, huh?). If and when I choose to pick up another, I plan on preparing the winter quarters. I've been mulling through a few ideas for winter protection and I think I'll be far more prepared this year than last.
 

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With azalea cultivar, since they are hybrids, the winter hardiness depends entirely on the individual. But 5b is pretty harsh on most azalea. For most places the climate is better if it is warmer when it comes to evergreen azalea.

Even in southern Japan satsuki take frost. But what exactly kills an azalea is not a certain temperature. Wind, early or late frost, frost while not protected by snow cover, frost even during the day over a long time, very low temperatures during one night, etc. Then what also matters is how well the summers allow the plants to harden off.

Then them being bonsai in a small pot is another added factor.

I would say that zone 9a is good for satsuki. Now not all zones 5 are equal, but we get into the area that only the most winter hardy evergreen azalea can handle. And satsuki are on the tender side. But they aren't plants that can't take frost at all. Quite the contrary. If the winters have no frost at all that is probably even detrimental. No or barely any frost would mean zone 10a. You won't find that in Japan except from a few exceptional spots/southern Islands like Okinawa. Kanuma itself is zone 8a.

If you want satsuki cultivar and winter hardiness is important, get the more R.indicum based satsuki. If you are in zone 5, you can get evergreen azalea that survive in zone 4.

I sometimes am a bit confused about why bonsai people are so set on satsuki. Their added value is their flowers but when I talk to bonsai people often they rather have smaller leaves and flowers that all have the same colour so no shibori. Satsuki were originally developed to have large flowers and thus also large leaves.
Newer cultivar are different and more suitable for shohin bonsai but they are so exactly by crossing with azalea other than satsuki.
 
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...they aren't plants that can't take frost at all. Quite the contrary. If the winters have no frost at all that is probably even detrimental.

Actually being exposed to frost isn't a requirement for their dormancy by any stretch... nor for most any tree species for that matter. A tolerance for something doesn't make it a requirement. Dormancy can be achieved in the mid-40s... its just a matter of the amount of time sustained at those levels. Most bonsai nurseries wouldn't expose their satsukis to frost, and not a hard freeze, with a choice. I wouldn't, but I have specimen trees, so it wouldn't be worth the risk. Especially where I live... as sudden overnight plunges into very cold temps is not odd. We get a nice little change of breeze direction and you can go from a near pineapple express to an arctic blast from Canada in a matter of hours. Much better to do the bonsai hokie-pokie in the evening. :rolleyes:

I'm not sure what the weather does where you live... When I think of the Netherlands, I think cold... but that is just ignorance on my part. I have no idea what your equivilant zone would be by US standards. :cool:

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Hey Victrinia, would you be willing to post some pictures of your overwintering quarters? I'm just curious how someone with specimen trees prepares for winter...
 
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jk_lewis

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Growing an exposed root bonsai -- and it is done with many species, from pine to azalea -- is exactly like growing a root-over rock. In fact, a stone is often used around which the roots can be artistically arranged. It then is planted deep -- stone and all -- in a pot and allowed to grow for SEVERAL years. How long depends on the species, the climate in which it is grown, the fertilizing regime and a host of other factors, but more than 4 years is a safe estimate.

After 4 years have passed, you repot, exposing the top part of the roots. This is repeated for the next few years until all of the root is eventually exposed. Then, you can remove the rock for a free-standing exposed root, or keep it for a root-over-rock bonsai.

It Takes Patience.

Rarely, you can find a yamadori with long, thick, roots that can be dug and almost be naturally trainedas exposed root. This is NOT common, though.
 

Harunobu

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I live in the coldest part of the Netherlands which is just as cold as Kanuma. The difference is the summers and the really late or really early cold and the extreme winters with lack of snow and intense dry winter wind.

NW Europe may be very northward, it's a lot more temperate than the climate further in the south in NA. The difference is the summers, not the winters. This is because we have a warm ocean steam coming from the mexican gulf while NA has an ocean stream from the north pole.
Satsuki love warm long summers.

The main point is, satsuki are not tropical plants at all. They are generally more hardy than florist azalea/southern indica/R.simsii. Some are fully hardy, most are quite tender for evergreen azalea. Some as plants are hardy to below 0 F. Still, hardiness is one of the biggest issues with satsuki for most.

Of course you don't want to take risks with expensive bonsai. But moving it inside every time night temperature drops below 35 F is overdoing it. When the azalea is in dormancy, it can take frost. When it's not, it is a different issue. If it is in dormancy and the frost isn't extreme, drying out through harsh winter wind is more of an issue.
Then again the R.tamurae based hybrids and the R.indicum based hybrids are very different so there is a wide range. Some satsuki are so cold loving they can't take the heat of some places. I heard that 'Kinsai' doesn't do well at all in southern Japan.

R.indicum is a species that lives only in mountains above 1000 feet or so. I think this is 7b hardiness zone. The catch is that they are covered with snow early in winter, which significantly helps protect them.

I think that because all of Japan is so close to the sea, even the high mountains, irregular weather occurs less often and sudden early frost is rarer than for most other places.
 
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Alex DeRuiter

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Ah, I hadn't considered removing a rock to leave the roots in the same position. This seems like it would work perfectly for this style, especially if one had a tall, slim, and textured rock. Maybe I'll give this a shot next year...after finding a tree use, of course.

Harunobu, one of the azaleas I killed was a Hino DeGiri (sp?). Luckily it was a cheap nursery tree, but I sadly never got to see it flower. I got it after seeing one of Dan Robinson's tree, but it was obviously a foolish mistake as I hadn't taken the time to research the species too much. Ah well, live and learn. Anyway, in regards to flower size, Hino DeGiri has tiny flowers in comparison to other azaleas. I'm not sure if it's a satsuki (again, lack of research), but in the book it's labeled as "Rhododendron kurume."

 

Harunobu

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Yes it's a hybrid that is based largely on R.kiusianum and a bit of R.kaempferi but it's from a strain that has been cultivated for a long time. Like satsuki but from different species.

I think this one was also part of the Wilson 50. These azalea mostly were not very hardy here in Europe eventhough they were based on species that generally are hardy. The city of Kurume is pretty far south in Japan. Maybe it was 'Hinodegiri' that was one of the few that did do well in Belgium/Germany/theNetherlands, don't remember for sure.

I have 'Hinodegiri' listed at -10 F though.

In Europe a lot of this type of azalea were developed that are hardier than the original Japanese cultivar.
In the US they focused on hybridizing different kinds of azalea that generally have bigger booms.

Your zone 5b will be harsh on many evergreen azalea.

You can look around at your local nursery to see what evergreen azalea they sell. Those do probably do well in your area. It's going to take a long time though to grow a bonsai from a cutting, of course. And nursery material is generally very multi trunked.
What you can do is get a cultivar you like, and prune it at the right time for taking cuttings. You try to prune the nursery plant itself to a single trunk and the new growth you can root.

I don't know how much the smallness of an azalea and the azalea being in a pot and a small one for that decreases the hardiness. But surely it will. Maybe the exposed root style ill also make the azalea more vulnerable. You will defenitely have to protect your azalea bonsai against the harshest winter can throw at them.

I kind of wouldn't recommend you to get a satsuki unless you have a heated greenhouse.
 
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Ax... I've worked on that Hino more times than I can count. :) I realized it isn't one of my images though as you are showing it from a off-center view rather than it's front.

Hinodigiri is very tough... we don't take them in where we live even in pots because they can take it here without problem... but again, we're 8b. If it's going to be bad, we put it on the ground, which tends to be enough.

I'm not certain my garage is a very sexy photo, so I won't bother showing you that... but I snagged a photo of one of my darlings, and the second photo is the one I had in the last US National Bonsai Exhibition. I have large display tables which get put in the garage, and the trees which need to be protected are in there. I have only one tree I put in a greenhouse in winter (a bougie), and I take it to work as we have a professional greenhouse at the facility. Around here even a cold frame is sufficient for satsuki, because our ground doesn't tend to freeze hard when not exposed to open air... though if one is concerned, the addition of compost to the coldframe generates sufficient heat to keep everything happy in the worst of our cold weather.

I actually have an exposed root style as well... It's roots are lovely, but the top is under construction, as it was let to grow without much guidence. I'll try and get a photo of it for you today if I can.






Harunobu...

My apologies if I led you to believe I think satsuki are somehow tropical... I don't recall saying that. You are of course entirely right in that respect... satsuki are not tropical. But as you can see, a serious investment has been made in these trees... and I don't mind much if it seems like overkill to move them in if it looks like it's going to freeze. I leave them out at 35... I take them in at 32. But they wouldn't be the only things coming in. I have trees from more temperate climates just as California Redwoods which seriously object to getting that cold for very long. So they all come in. And out they go the next morning.:)

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
 
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My exposed root Satsuki...



I'm very fond of this tree.... I'm working on chasing the crown back in... it was more than twice it's current width when I got it. V
 
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Ah, I hadn't considered removing a rock to leave the roots in the same position. This seems like it would work perfectly for this style, especially if one had a tall, slim, and textured rock. Maybe I'll give this a shot next year...after finding a tree use, of course.

Just read the bit about the rock idea... theoretically one could... but remember the act of forming roots around a stone has a tendancy to flatten them against the rock... especially if you bind them correctly. So the look, when and if you can get the rock out, would be different than what is represented in the azaleas shown.

The method is most commonly achieved by designing a tall columner grow box which has sections that can be removed over the course of years. As the sections get successively removed and soils wash away, the roots will burrow down further and strengthen thenselves to sustain the weight of the exposed roots above... but as has been said, it is a process of years. If you do it... pay little regard to what is happening in the crown... azaleas of all types backbud against any wood readily, so building the top comes after the rootbase has been established. Let it grow freely so as to promote maximum root growth. As azaleas have exceptionally fine hair roots, I would hazard a guess that completion is more in the 15 year range. Not a quick process... but when done well, is very unusual and lovely.

Hope that answers your original question more.

V
 

Harunobu

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Those look really nice. I wouldn't want to take any risks either.
 

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