Pot Selection and timing

remist17

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I have some general potting questions.

1- How do you size the pot to the tree?
2- I purchased some nursery stock that needs to be potted and have their roots coming out of the nursery pot. Can I change out the pots now and cut some roots off? I will also cut down the branches.
 

Thomas J.

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No now is not the time to repot or work the roots at all. That is done in early spring. If the roots are coming through the pot, then just put the tree in a bigger pot with more soil, commonly referred to as slip potting. If you live in Penn, your winters will be rough and the new roots which will start growing after root work and repotting will just freeze up and die. Putting the tree in a bigger pot with more soil will prevent this. Be patient and wait until next spring. Any branch work should be okay during the winter months when the sap is not flowing.:)
 

JudyB

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Thomas posted as I was typing this in... Maybe better to hear it from more than one person...

You can slip-pot them, but you should not repot and cut off a bunch of roots, and for sure not branches this late in the year. Slip potting is just going up a size or two with another pot, enough to contain the roots without cutting them off. So you're just transferring the tree to a bigger size without doing any trimming top or bottom. If you do branch pruning this time of year, it may try to put out new growth, that will surely be killed this winter, and may weaken the tree altogether. Some folks who really know what they are doing, actually do repot this time of year. (I don't yet...) Generally until you get the hang of keeping things alive, spring is much safer to repot. Most trees get repotted just before bud burst, but each specie has a best window, you should read up on the particular trees that you have.
 
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Thomas J.

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Most trees get repotted just before bud burst, but each specie has a best window, you should read up on the particular trees that you have.

This is very true. Most of my trees can wait until the usual spring repotting except for my JBPs, they must be done before mid Jan here in Tx. Reason being is because they need to be ready for the heavy fertilization needed for these trees for the summer decandleing.
 

october

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All good advice.. As far as proportions go... You would want the length of the pot to be roughly 2/3 the height of the tree. The depth of the pot should be around the thickness of the base of the trunk of the tree you are potting. Masculine, thick trunk trees tend to look better in more rugged shaped, rectangular like pots. While elegant, thinner trunked trees tend to look better in shallow round or oval pots.

Also, tropicals and flowering species can go in colored and/or glazed pots. While cold hardy such as pines and junipers tend to look better in earth tones and unglazed pots. Of course, these are just guidlines and it depends on the tree.

If you are serious about further studying bonsai. I highly recommend John Naka's Bonsai techniques book 1 and Bonsai Techniques book 2. They are probably the most complete and informative bonsai books ever written.

Rob
 

october

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p.s. Here is a virt that might make it easier.
 

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rockm

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Selectings the "right" pot is not a science. It is an art, really. While specific mathmatic proportions can help, they are not (and should not) be the way to choose a pot. Selecting a pot is about as exact a science as choosing the right tie for a suit. There are more choices than blue or red.

Thinking about bark texture, areas of the trunk you want to highlight, mood of the planting, color of fall leaves, color of summer leaves, winter appearance of the tree can all lead to different pot shapes, sizes and colors....
 

Bill S

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Actually as far as timing goes in general, your trees are probably not ready to be potted, and not to a finished sized pot, any real growth needed will need more than a finished size pot or you will extend the time needed to achieve you goal. This may not seem to be an issue, but a couple of missed opportunities can cost you years in time to achieve the final results.
 

MattB

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1. It's already been said, but make sure you are selecting the pot size based on what you are wanting to accomplish. If you are in the 'finished' bonsai stage and wanting to increase ramification/slow down growth you are going to choose a smaller pot like you see on alot of bonsai on the web. For most plants being trained you will want a larger pot to encourage more vigorous growth, some people use just about anything from wood grow boxes to old plastic buckets or pond baskets. Basically, choose the pot that will accomplish what the plant needs at this point in its development. The bad thing about working on bonsai is that most of them do not look anything like bonsai for quite sometime. So choosing a fancy pot for an undeveloped tree seems silly.

2. http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/fallpot.htm

Not really promoting this or saying I have tried it because I have not, but my local bonsai expert will do repots and root pruning in the fall on plants that are healthy and can handle it. Certain species will obviously handle this best and of course, he has a greenhouse to ensure that plants are not stressed by frosts and whatnot. Again, do not take this as my advice to you, because spring is almost always going to be the best route to go.
 

Bill S

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MattB, two things to point out from your statement, "expert bonsai guy", and "some species", fall potting is a know what you are doing thing, and some species are better suited to potting this time of year. Done wrong could show dead tree in the spring. Not that you are wrong mind you, just that some care items will be critical.
 

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