Half ball - is that a thing?

BonjourBonsai

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I know half bare root is a thing. And I know a root ball is a thing. I also know that Mugos and other conifers can have their root balls sawn in half. So I'm thinking that "half ball" should be a thing. Example:

"I took the advice of bonsai veterans and half balled a mugo after father's day but before late August and it survived!"
 

Shogun610

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Hmm did those people say if they use a green house? That could certainly extend some time for recovery , as if I’m not mistaken 6 weeks below 35 F is avg time for dormancy.
 

sorce

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Like....the bottom half?

It's kinda confusing cuz that ridiculous half bare root practice is half the pie.

Sorce
 

BonjourBonsai

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Yup. Cutting off a slice. From this to this.
 

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Potawatomi13

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As long as one knows where top of roots are and plenty roots around side of upper mass likely can successfully remove bottom half. However personally only repot in very early growing season unless pot is dumped/emergency. NEXT repotting need to dig in to center mass and remove down growing heavy roots working toward reasonably shallow root mass unless developing Cascade.
 

Bonsai Nut

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"I took the advice of bonsai veterans and half balled a mugo after father's day but before late August and it survived!"
I don't know too many bonsai veterans who would recommend cutting a tree rootball in half in July... for no apparent reason. Was there another part to this story? Was the person trying to accomplish something specifically? Otherwise... wait a couple of months and do the job right.
 

BonjourBonsai

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I don't know too many bonsai veterans who would recommend cutting a tree rootball in half in July... for no apparent reason. Was there another part to this story? Was the person trying to accomplish something specifically? Otherwise... wait a couple of months and do the job right.
From this compiled resource of Vance Wood posts:

https://www.bonsainut.com/resources/compiled-vance-wood-on-mugo-pines.23/


TREATMENT OF NEW NURSERY MUGOS:
Repot anytime after Father's Day through August. Early July is ideal.
Remove the tree from the container. Remove the duff and detritus from the top of the soil mass. Don't go digging around for the nebari.
Using a saw, remove one half off of the bottom of the soil mass. (Vance no longer teaches the pie cutting method of removing soil).
 

BonjourBonsai

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I've tried spring repots on Mugos before and lost one completely and severely damaged the other. I figured I would give the half ball method a try.
 

Ryceman3

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I don't know too many bonsai veterans who would recommend cutting a tree rootball in half in July... for no apparent reason. Was there another part to this story? Was the person trying to accomplish something specifically? Otherwise... wait a couple of months and do the job right.
I know plenty of bonsai people who recommend cutting a tree rootball in half in July, I’m one of them… it’s all a matter of geography! 😉👍🏼
 

BobbyLane

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almost a couple weeks ago and last pic is from today
 

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James W.

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I regularly cut the bottom half of the roots off a nursery mugo in July with no problems. Per V. Wood method. Never heard it called "half ball".
I have lost several by trying to do more root work than that.
 

just.wing.it

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Maybe a better term would be "Half Ass".
HBR is the best method, because it's the least stressful to the tree....not that sawing off the bottom is more stressful, its not, but its also not a big step in the development of the tree.

Sawing the bottom off is a step towards a shallower root system in the future, but does nothing to address the nebari or unwanted roots near the nebari.

I tried another Mugo this year.....I decided to cut back after Father's Day, and raked away the top of the root mass, to try and expose the nebari.....unsuccessful, its a deep one.... but if I could go back, I would have HBR'd it like my juniper and JBP.
 

BobbyLane

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i think if you start with a tree that has very good nebari from the outset, addressing the surface roots isnt a major priority at least not as important as many make it out to be.
its not very stressful to chop the bottom half off a nursery tree, nor is it very stressful to remove superflous roots and remove top soil until you get to the nebari at the same time.
i do this constantly.
i see them doing it in Croatia too, but they always start with good nebari.
 

BobbyLane

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so if you start with nebari like this all you need to really do is keep slicing pieces off, the idea that you need to bare root, tease out, arrange and address surface roots often really should only apply to material with young immature roots, poor roots etc

with that said i usually remove bits from the bottom and do a bit of raking with a root hook on the surface at the same time, at anytime but usually from leaf drop through to may as thats when i buy most trees.
 

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Adair M

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so if you start with nebari like this all you need to really do is keep slicing pieces off, the idea that you need to bare root, tease out, arrange and address surface roots often really should only apply to material with young immature roots, poor roots etc

with that said i usually remove bits from the bottom and do a bit of raking with a root hook on the surface at the same time, at anytime but usually from leaf drop through to may as thats when i buy most trees.
Bobby, what can be done to a deciduous tree vs a conifer like the pines being discussed in this thread are like night and day.0
 

BobbyLane

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Bobby, what can be done to a deciduous tree vs a conifer like the pines being discussed in this thread are like night and day.0
yes i did notice that Adair, however i think the same applies too if you start with a great nebari. nursery conifers can be dealt with in the same way in terms of slicing away large chunks of root rather than teasing everything out and bare rooting straight away. if you start with a great nebari, 'addressing' the roots first isnt then so essential. you can focus on other areas and the tree establishes quicker.
 

BonjourBonsai

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If you half ball a mugo in July of 2021, when could you safely root prune it again? I'm guessing the answer would be dependent on the health of the tree but also probably not earlier than July 2023?
 

BonjourBonsai

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Do other conifers respond well to half balling? I'm tempted to try it on bird's nest spruce, dwarf Alberta spruce and some junipers. Thoughts?
 
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