Jbp Half-bare root suggestions...

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I picked up this weird critter at a local club auction back in November. It looks unhealthy to me. It appears that the apex is dying off as there aren't many needles growing there. It has weird flattened nodes that the seller said was a characteristic of this cultivar. I kind of took that with a grain of salt as I have no idea if this person's horticulture is on point. Based off the condition of the tree at time of purchase I am assuming horticulture needs improvement.
Aside from the lack of apical needles and weird branch growth, I noticed the pot feels super heavy, like it was filled with cement. He told me had the tree 15 years, I didn't remember to ask him when last repot was. I kept the tree in a covered area out of the rain for weeks but much to my surprise it still felt like a tub of cement when I went to pick it up.
My plan for this tree is to pot it in boon mix in a 10" pond basket and try to get it to bush out.
Yesterday I pulled it out of the pot to see what was going on under there. Bad news is it didn't look great, good news is I'm pretty sure the soil is to blame for the condition of the tree. There are huge hollowed out portions under the roots where the drainage holes in the nursery pot are located filled with slugs and potato bugs. It looks like the bottom of the container was filled with river rock as a drainage layer. The rest of the soil appears to be red lava, sand and garden soil.
I scraped back the surface and it is very muddy and sandy.
What I think I know about JBP based off advice from club leadership/local bonsai professionals; it's ok to bare-root young jbp seedlings, older trees should only be half bare-rooted.
I figured I would post some photos here and see what some of my favorite b-nutters have to say. After all most bonsai advice I here is more of a guideline and very situational depending on the individual tree.
Here are some pics from back in November when I first got the tree.
 

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and from yesterday's dig...
 

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Scorpius

Mame
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That root ball is one hot mess. Definitely wasn't getting the proper air exchange. I'd just do a repot like you said and hopefully get it's health and vigor back.

If that is indeed Pinus Thunbergii "Ogi" it is the slowest growing JBP with fan like growth patterns. I want one.
 

River's Edge

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I picked up this weird critter at a local club auction back in November. It looks unhealthy to me. It appears that the apex is dying off as there aren't many needles growing there. It has weird flattened nodes that the seller said was a characteristic of this cultivar. I kind of took that with a grain of salt as I have no idea if this person's horticulture is on point. Based off the condition of the tree at time of purchase I am assuming horticulture needs improvement.
Aside from the lack of apical needles and weird branch growth, I noticed the pot feels super heavy, like it was filled with cement. He told me had the tree 15 years, I didn't remember to ask him when last repot was. I kept the tree in a covered area out of the rain for weeks but much to my surprise it still felt like a tub of cement when I went to pick it up.
My plan for this tree is to pot it in boon mix in a 10" pond basket and try to get it to bush out.
Yesterday I pulled it out of the pot to see what was going on under there. Bad news is it didn't look great, good news is I'm pretty sure the soil is to blame for the condition of the tree. There are huge hollowed out portions under the roots where the drainage holes in the nursery pot are located filled with slugs and potato bugs. It looks like the bottom of the container was filled with river rock as a drainage layer. The rest of the soil appears to be red lava, sand and garden soil.
I scraped back the surface and it is very muddy and sandy.
What I think I know about JBP based off advice from club leadership/local bonsai professionals; it's ok to bare-root young jbp seedlings, older trees should only be half bare-rooted.
I figured I would post some photos here and see what some of my favorite b-nutters have to say. After all most bonsai advice I here is more of a guideline and very situational depending on the individual tree.
Here are some pics from back in November when I first got the tree.
Difficult decisions to prune appropriately for aesthetics when it takes forever to build branching or foliage. However it will be necessary to make something out of this beginning.
 

rollwithak

Chumono
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How much soil you going to take off? You going to document the procedure for this thread? Wonder how those base roots are looking?
 

bwaynef

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I had a jbp 'Bansho[s?]ho' (i've seen it w/ the s and w/o) that was in mucky messy goo for soil. What started as a halfbareroot became a 95percentbareroot. I sat it on the ground on a black ground cover and did nothing but water it last year. I clipped one piece off the end of a branch this spring and have decided to just let it grow again this season. Honestly, it didn't miss a beat, but I know what the roots looked like so I'm trying to get it strong.

I don't recommend any more than a half bareroot repot, but I managed to get away with what I did. The risks of leaving that awful soil (like the stuff you sink an inch or two deep into when you're standing barefoot in a lake) seemed higher than barerooting the tree and replacing it w/ inorganics.

Good luck with yours.
 

Scorpius

Mame
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I'd leave the core intact and remove that outer 75%. Risky, but that soil is awful and WILL kill the tree if nothing is done.
 
Messages
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Portland, Oregon, United States of America
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That root ball is one hot mess. Definitely wasn't getting the proper air exchange. I'd just do a repot like you said and hopefully get it's health and vigor back.

If that is indeed Pinus Thunbergii "Ogi" it is the slowest growing JBP with fan like growth patterns. I want one.
Yeah it's difficult for me to photograph since i'm a poor photographer even with the latest iphone. It looks like spikey beaver tails.
 

Potawatomi13

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even with the latest iphone
Get real camera! Tree looks diseased/galled🧐. If is natural growth would never want such a diseased looking thing! Being in portland should have pumice available. Shake off what will fall off roots. Trim off lower roots so plenty good upper root ball roots left. Repot in shallower growing container not including Bonsai pot.
 
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I cheated and emailed Bonsai Tonight Jonas. It amazes me he replied so quickly and even hyperlinked a blog post: https://bonsaitonight.com/2021/03/12/repotting-nursery-stock-sekka-hinoki/ (You should check out the trees for sale over there btw)
Nocked all the bottom junk off, dug out the river rock, scraped about 1/4” off the surface.
Then marked halfway point on both sides with some wire and went to work with my bamboo chopstick removing the old soil from one half the root ball.
I put a small layer of large pumice on the bottom of my pond basket. Then piled some Boon mix, (1-1-1 pumice, akadama, black lava) then plopped her in there, back filled with Boon mix.
Then I topped it with akadama fines, chopped sphagnum & sprinkled live moss clippings.
I won’t do anymore work on this tree this year. I’ll be fertilizing with sumo cakes or biogold and weekly dose of Alaska fish Sauce.
my first time repotting a black pine not counting my young trees, hopefully I set this critter up for success.
Thanks for all the suggestions 😚
 

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JEads

Yamadori
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I think getting that done is going to greatly improve the tree. I would hesitate putting the akadama fines and moss on a pine in the Pacific Northwest, though. I think those are both going to hold too much moisture for a pine in our wet climate and wet soil is the problem you are trying to recover from. A basket is a great choice and getting that other half dug out in a couple of years will really help. good luck!
 
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I think getting that done is going to greatly improve the tree. I would hesitate putting the akadama fines and moss on a pine in the Pacific Northwest, though. I think those are both going to hold too much moisture for a pine in our wet climate and wet soil is the problem you are trying to recover from. A basket is a great choice and getting that other half dug out in a couple of years will really help. good luck!
Thanks John, I trust you know your stuff, will be removing that. Also, thanks again for those Korean hornbeams. I can’t wait to watch them grow. I wish I had ordered more!
* I forget to mention I also poked some holes in the old soil with my stainless chop stick.*
 

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Yamadori
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Thanks John, I trust you know your stuff, will be removing that. Also, thanks again for those Korean hornbeams. I can’t wait to watch them grow. I wish I had ordered more!
* I forget to mention I also poked some holes in the old soil with my stainless chop stick.*
I think that the holes in the old soil is a good idea.
I think removing the moss is great, however, I would cover a little more of the root system with good soil. At this stage of development you dont really want to see that fine rooting at the surface. the fine roots at the surface tend to die off and leave you with larger gaps in the nebari. So as painful as it is, you want to bury those roots for now and encourage more fine rooting to come out of the base.
hopefully that helps.
You could put a tiny ring of moss right at the base of the trunk (1" wide ring around the trunk) to help encourage rooting to come out of the trunk, but I would only do that on the side that has new soil for now.
Good Luck!
 
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I think that the holes in the old soil is a good idea.
I think removing the moss is great, however, I would cover a little more of the root system with good soil. At this stage of development you dont really want to see that fine rooting at the surface. the fine roots at the surface tend to die off and leave you with larger gaps in the nebari. So as painful as it is, you want to bury those roots for now and encourage more fine rooting to come out of the base.
hopefully that helps.
You could put a tiny ring of moss right at the base of the trunk (1" wide ring around the trunk) to help encourage rooting to come out of the trunk, but I would only do that on the side that has new soil for now.
Good Luck!
That's what I was thinking with having the top layer of akadama fines. I figured the combo of that with the moss would keep that top 1/4" of substrate from drying out slower than the lower portion, I'm not sure if the science of that is sound, lol.
It sounds like you are saying just to replace the fine akadama with more of the larger size pumice, akadama, lava mix?
Aside from retaining moisture on the surface isn't the purpose of the fines to encourage more fine surface roots?
Thanks!
 

JEads

Yamadori
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That's what I was thinking with having the top layer of akadama fines. I figured the combo of that with the moss would keep that top 1/4" of substrate from drying out slower than the lower portion, I'm not sure if the science of that is sound, lol.
It sounds like you are saying just to replace the fine akadama with more of the larger size pumice, akadama, lava mix?
Aside from retaining moisture on the surface isn't the purpose of the fines to encourage more fine surface roots?
Thanks!
Your thinking on keeping the very top moist to encourage rooting is correct. The issue with fines is that they will eventually sift down into the substrate below and clog drainage. Moss will not move in the same way. So, yea, replace the fines with the mix that you used on the rest of the pot up and possibly put a thin ring of moss around the base of the trunk to retain some moisture.
 
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