Late summer repotting

Smoke

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Student of life, admirer of Ryan Neal, reader of Adair’s posts, confused by Sorce, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Juniper, Member of a bonsai club, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the Thornless Tree, Additional Member of the Order of Wire, Lover of Extra Crispy KFC, Royal Chief of the Order Chupacabra, Extraordinary Commander of the BNut Fan Club (northeast division).
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Saddler

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There is a huge difference between repotting and pruning. You will never kill a tree by pruning and watching. But you can surly kill a tree in summer repotting. Lets just say that Walter does what he does where he lives, and I do what I do where I live. Both of us get excellent results. We do because we WORK on trees. Unlike many here that dabble and really never make anything after ten years. That, is the sad truth.....

Do you do summer repotting or prune the shit out of your maples? or...do you just do your own thing?
I can’t say whether or not you can kill a tree with pruning it yet, but I do know it can cause you to lose at least a third of a season of growth if you prune new growth right up to the end of June. Now I know, 15th of June is my cut off. I’m just hoping it doesn’t turn into a half season. I guess there are caveats to the method, who knew?

I have done all those, summer repotting, prune the shit out of my maples and in some cases, do my own thing buts that’s only because at the time I don’t know any better. Ideally I’ll be doing more of the first two and less of the third.
 

leatherback

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How can I join please?
I can’t say whether or not you can kill a tree with pruning it yet, but I do know it can cause you to lose at least a third of a season of growth if you prune new growth right up to the end of June. Now I know, 15th of June is my cut off. I’m just hoping it doesn’t turn into a half season. I guess there are caveats to the method, who knew?

I have done all those, summer repotting, prune the shit out of my maples and in some cases, do my own thing buts that’s only because at the time I don’t know any better. Ideally I’ll be doing more of the first two and less of the third.
We do because we WORK on trees. Unlike many here that dabble and really never make anything after ten years.
Somehow I feel this is slightly unfair. Do you really feel that many here do not work their trees? That they do not try to the best of their abilities?
 

Cable

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Somehow I feel this is slightly unfair. Do you really feel that many here do not work their trees? That they do not try to the best of their abilities?
I think what he's trying to say, at least as it applies to people like me, is that while some of us do try to the best of our abilities our ability isn't all that great and we're not dedicated to putting in the work to elevate our skills to a high level. For me, this is a hobby. I hope to get decent at it one day but I'll never be a "master" (whatever that is).

We've had this conversation before; I think the world of bonsai is big enough for all of us. But, I've been told before that if you're not willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of stock and hone your skills to perfection you don't belong in the art. It's ok to hold that opinion. It's not unique to bonsai, either. There are polar extremes at my gun club, too, where some think it should only be for competitive shooters and complain about other members who only show up once or twice a year to get in some basic practice.
 

Cable

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Maples, eh? Even japanese? I have three red japanese maples (probably bloodgood) that are in 3 gallon pots that were given to me a few weeks ago. They are HEAVY and I assume were dug up and the pots are full of clay.

So, I re-potted the three jap maples last night. I was pretty ho-hum about them because they looked plain and straight in the pots (though the littlest one had some curves). It turns out I was correct in that the pots were full of clay and heavy soil (pretty good garden soil at least). I was wrong about the other two trees, though. They were both planted far too deep and below ground I found some nice movement and nice thick roots. Now the after care begins.
 

Joe Dupre'

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I think what he's trying to say, at least as it applies to people like me, is that while some of us do try to the best of our abilities our ability isn't all that great and we're not dedicated to putting in the work to elevate our skills to a high level. For me, this is a hobby. I hope to get decent at it one day but I'll never be a "master" (whatever that is).

We've had this conversation before; I think the world of bonsai is big enough for all of us. But, I've been told before that if you're not willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of stock and hone your skills to perfection you don't belong in the art. It's ok to hold that opinion. It's not unique to bonsai, either. There are polar extremes at my gun club, too, where some think it should only be for competitive shooters and complain about other members who only show up once or twice a year to get in some basic practice.
I agree. I had one guy ( and only 1 guy) admit that he liked the "idea" of bonsai, but not so much all the sacrifices you must make to have and grow them. People like that may, one day ,think it IS worth the sacrifice. But, I really can side with the really dedicated bonsai aritists for whom bonsai is a MAJOR part of their lives. But some people would like to "dabble" in the hobby and not feel like they are a failure at some level.
Which brings me to the declarations like "That is not a bonsai." as if, a tree that is not at the pinnacle of it's potential it is not even worth being called a bonsai, but some other derogatory term, such as "stick in a pot", or "topiary". And a person absolutely has a right to his opinion on what constitutes a bonsai TO HIM. I am just put off by those kinds of remarks because they are a declaration of FACT, not of opinion. One definition of "bonsai" uses terms like "training, pruning, cultivating,growing". The "...ing" on the ends of those words translates to a process.......not a finished product. In my opinion, trees that are in that process ARE bonsai. My opinion......nothing more. Your opinion may vary, and there's nothing wrong with that.
 

Forsoothe!

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Whoever said "You can't argue with success." obviously has never been on Bonsai Nut. Walter seemed to make it very plain that this procedure has worked for him for years. He also warned of the things that have to be in place for it to work. He ALSO said that he wasn't recommending anyone try this procedure.....only that it worked for him. How on earth can anyone actually reading his post have any arguement with it? Now, after the sordid remarks he received, I really don't blame him for getting a bit defensive.
A significant percentage of the old guard here should be on "Ignore" if you don't want to see overbearing, condescending, belittling comments intended to insult and burnish their own image by comparison, by diminishing other's.

Walter speaks directly, argues against some methods and for others, but doesn't do it at the personal expense of anyone.
 

Jorow99

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Yes, I've (so slowly) come to understand that. I will offer to you that in our tended pot culture it is not much, if any, effect. I've overdone root work in repotting that took an entire season for the trees to recover from. However, my instinct is that the roots recover in a couple of weeks of a properly done repot. I measured stem thicknesses of at least 8 trees of several species through the season. Week by week stem thicken more and more as spring progresses. Then shortly after the summer solstice this rate declines, week by week until cold dormancy sets in. Half of each species of tree was repotted in Aug/Sep and there was no significant disruption of the growth curve from the other trees that were repotted in spring. My repotting routine was to wash all the substrate out of the roots (done to weigh the young trees), invert the plastic nursery pots they were in, pruning the roots to the perimeter of the pot base, and then repotting the tree. The amount of root pruning is roughly equivalent to what I think to be normal practice with bonsai.

So, I don't think that what we do generally leads to the effects you were speculating, at least not to a significant degree.

I think everyone's concern about late summer or fall root pruning is that it may interfere with generating cold hardiness. This story from Brent Walston of evergreengardenworks.com is the icon for this.
Really cool that you measures the trunk thickness to try to figure that out, is love to see the data if you have it in another thread. The fall tissue growth would be much harder to measure since the vessels and tracheids are smaller, so I think to see any difference in the amount of fall tissue added we would need a lot of trees to measure. Or maybe the tree prioritizes the fall xylem over new roots regardless.

So why does it matter when roots are pruned in late summer?
I think everyone's concern about late summer or fall root pruning is that it may interfere with generating cold hardiness.
 

Jorow99

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With all due respect, because I really appreciate what is being broken down here, and the efforts to further these concepts with even more clarity, but I take issue with the use of the word wood.
I get it, but for the sake of further clarity I believe you are referring only to living (new or otherwise) vascular tissue (xylem/phloem). True wood is only secondary xylem which is no longer living or capable of transporting water, hormones, nutrients etc.
I am not a biologist, so thank you for correcting me. Now I can be more precise.
 

0soyoung

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Really cool that you measures the trunk thickness to try to figure that out, is love to see the data if you have it in another thread. The fall tissue growth would be much harder to measure since the vessels and tracheids are smaller, so I think to see any difference in the amount of fall tissue added we would need a lot of trees to measure. Or maybe the tree prioritizes the fall xylem over new roots regardless.
The measurement methodology and graphic compilation is in the Douglas fir Repotting Experiment, Lodgepole Pine Repot Experiment, Cork Oak Repot Experiment, Zelkova Repotting Experiment, and Redbud Potting Experiment threads. I have also found the same with acer palmatum and a few other species that I have in my collection - enough to convince myself that all species do this.

I think that greater precision is required to detect the effects you have in mind. Maybe an in-situ electronic caliper apparatus would be needed. But then again, maybe it is in there and would be found with a more careful analysis. I do recall noting shrinkage of the lodgepole trunks late in fall, corresponding to them sugaring-up and drying out for winter hardiness. So, one ought to be able to likewise measure the expansion of stems from a high water tension state that foliage had wilted/drooped and then watered. Personally, I have had enough of laboring like a new biology graduate student 🤓.
 

Maloghurst

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I am not a biologist, so thank you for correcting me. Now I can be more precise.
Just throwing that out there.
From everything I’ve read about root growth. There are 2 periods of root growth. One starting in spring with maximum growth in early summer. Then a short dormant period. Then a shorter root growth period in the fall before dormancy.
Makes perfect sense that you can repot a a refined bonsai in fall if you need too and you don’t do too much to the roots and have proper aftercare.
But I personally will not be doing “extensive”root work on my trees in the fall. Like removing a rootbound nursery or field grown maple from a can or field and heavily working roots.
Seems that when extensive root work is done it will give it the best chance to have both root growth periods in a year before going into winter dormancy.
 

Cable

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From everything I’ve read about root growth. There are 2 periods of root growth. One starting in spring with maximum growth in early summer. Then a short dormant period. Then a shorter root growth period in the fall before dormancy.
That's not true, roots will continue to grow in the winter as long as the soil isn't frozen.
 

Forsoothe!

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Seems that when extensive root work is done it will give it the best chance to have both root growth periods in a year before going into winter dormancy.
Yes, it can be done by anyone, anytime, BUT to give them the best chance of success, roots need as much growth as they can get before going into winter. My opinion.
 

Maloghurst

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Yes, it can be done by anyone, anytime, BUT to give them the best chance of success, roots need as much growth as they can get before going into winter. My opinion.
I did not say anyone anytime can repot any tree. My point (and you quoted it) was exactly what you stated. “Seems that when extensive root work is done it will give it the best chance to have both root growth periods in a year before going into winter dormancy.” Were you just confirming my statement? Sorry I’m just confused are we saying the same thing?
 

TN_Jim

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I am not a biologist, so thank you for correcting 3me. Now I can be more precise.
You dropped some much needed sense and appreciated knowledge that made me wake up amidst some summer potting hoopla. Thank you.

Also you were are right very right about water transportation through what is realitively wood, in that there is a gradient of still conducive tissue from and near the vascular cambium that is vessels/trachids, non-living tissue that can conduct water and nutrients, i was incorrect and holding a broad brush

I honestly appreciate some coherent light in this thread. Thanks

257092
 

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