Repot, rootwork, style in one go?

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#1
Hi all,
It's finally warming up here and I finally get to move some of my bonsais that made it through winter in nasty soil they came in.
As am only here for a week and need to travel for 6 weeks after so need to do as much as possible in one go.
Have some olives that all need to.move out of the regular soil they're in. Expecting root rot in some is it OK to prune the roots at same time or will that be too much change in the Tree. Some also need medium to heavy branch pruning. Is it too much if I did at the same time as well as some wiring? A couple will need major branches to be cut.
One olive needs to be chopped way low and would like to try to save the upper part. Dies it stand much chance if it's a straight cut or do OK have to airlayer. If I cut straight so I keep the upper part in water, regular soil, bonsai soil or peat/coco peat to allow the riots to grow faster. Should I scratch the bark and or apply rooting hormone to help roots grow faster? Should I seal the upper trunk from below when I cut or will that prevent rooting?
Do I fertilize at same time or give it a few weeks before starting to fertilize?
I also have an elm that needs to be repoted in better soil and I'll also need to either air layer to cut later on. What order should I go about these and what is the best time to air layer and when to open and cut?
Sorry for the million question and thanks for ur help.
 

Eric Group

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#3
Hi all,
It's finally warming up here and I finally get to move some of my bonsais that made it through winter in nasty soil they came in.
As am only here for a week and need to travel for 6 weeks after so need to do as much as possible in one go.
Have some olives that all need to.move out of the regular soil they're in. Expecting root rot in some is it OK to prune the roots at same time or will that be too much change in the Tree. Some also need medium to heavy branch pruning. Is it too much if I did at the same time as well as some wiring? A couple will need major branches to be cut.
One olive needs to be chopped way low and would like to try to save the upper part. Dies it stand much chance if it's a straight cut or do OK have to airlayer. If I cut straight so I keep the upper part in water, regular soil, bonsai soil or peat/coco peat to allow the riots to grow faster. Should I scratch the bark and or apply rooting hormone to help roots grow faster? Should I seal the upper trunk from below when I cut or will that prevent rooting?
Do I fertilize at same time or give it a few weeks before starting to fertilize?
I also have an elm that needs to be repoted in better soil and I'll also need to either air layer to cut later on. What order should I go about these and what is the best time to air layer and when to open and cut?
Sorry for the million question and thanks for ur help.
I don't think there is any way to answer your questions from the info provided.

IF you have unhealthy trees, then yeah it is way too much to bare root, root prune, repot and style all at the same time. Regardless of species or variety that is likely going to kill them.

Beyond that- what kind of soil are hey in and what is your goal in repotting them now? Are these well established trees, grown out to the sizes you want, ready for the last stages of bonsai development? No. Probably not right? So why so dead set on the soil change? I assume you are moving them to a really expensive/ fancy inorganic mix of some sort? There is no reason why regular potting soil should lead to unhealthy trees. If well cared for, they should be fine for years/ decades in a good potting mix. The repotting you do while developing trees is generally done with a plan in mind around spreading the roots out, developing a good nebari... but most of the rest of the focus is on trunk development and further down the line branch development. A good, table potting mix- or THE GROUND- is fine for this stage. Potting soil in general does not mean root rot... over watering coupled with poor draining pots/ soil are what lead to root rot.
 
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#4
Who will be watching them while you are gone?

Sorce
I've relocated to Dubai last September and my wife has been taking care if the garden, bonsai and my reef tank. Must admit that she's done well in all. I'm also setting up an automatic watering system to ease things up a bit.i usually fly home every 2-3 weeks for 3-4 days but this time family will join me for Easter, hence the 6 weeks absence.
 
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#5
I don't think there is any way to answer your questions from the info provided.

IF you have unhealthy trees, then yeah it is way too much to bare root, root prune, repot and style all at the same time. Regardless of species or variety that is likely going to kill them.

Beyond that- what kind of soil are hey in and what is your goal in repotting them now? Are these well established trees, grown out to the sizes you want, ready for the last stages of bonsai development? No. Probably not right? So why so dead set on the soil change? I assume you are moving them to a really expensive/ fancy inorganic mix of some sort? There is no reason why regular potting soil should lead to unhealthy trees. If well cared for, they should be fine for years/ decades in a good potting mix. The repotting you do while developing trees is generally done with a plan in mind around spreading the roots out, developing a good nebari... but most of the rest of the focus is on trunk development and further down the line branch development. A good, table potting mix- or THE GROUND- is fine for this stage. Potting soil in general does not mean root rot... over watering coupled with poor draining pots/ soil are what lead to root rot.

Yes some are unhealthy but some are doing amazing. I was repeatedly told here that I needed to get them out of the soil they're in. I already list a few due to root rot and some i saved with an emergency repot as they were dying. For some the soil is really bad (water doesn't even drain)
Am not keen on restyling if it causes added risk I can always wait till next year. Only reason I ask is cause I don't know if I should wire, prune and do heavy branch work... In spring preferably or if in hit summer days is still acceptable. If it's too much I can always delay to summer or next year.
Don't have access to "fancy" soil I usually go with what works and I can unfortunately only find pumice and some clay balls.
Trees Are a mix some are ready for styling and some still need to be cut back and regrown. Again no rush doing all the above but as am reporting ABD roots are u covered I thought I'd at least cover root work and maybe some pruning and cut backs if it's not risky for the Tree. A quick search on my older threads will show how on each of my posts I was told soil was bad and trees needed to be out
 

sorce

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#6
I would do minimal work.

Case by case basis.

Gone for a while means planning ahead.

Slower growing stuff, and things you can just whack back later can go in the ground.

Faster growing things and trees that need more attention, as so they don't get away from you, should be in pots, and cut back to "keep potential problems at bay", before you go....
Reducing over vigorous branches, and not leaving 3 branches coming from any one place, etc.

Try to "set them on a path", but with as little work as possible for the less than healthy ones.

Good Skill!

And I hope you have a good Time at Easter!

Sorce
 
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#7
Repoted a few yesterday. Roots were not as nice as I see on some olives here but believe not bad as I feared. Is the black part root rot?
I reduced the roots to fit the pots and also removed some dead parts so wonder if I need to prune the leaves proportionally?

Tree 1
IMAG2295.jpg IMAG2297.jpg
IMAG2298.jpg
IMAG2300.jpg

Struggled a bit with wiring trees in pots as the root base was one block so Tree doesn't feel very solid in the pot. It improved a bit after adding the soil and poking it... Anything I need to check to make sure that Tree is well seated?
 
Last edited:
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#8
Tree 2

IMAG2294.jpg

IMAG2301.jpg

And a third one I had to saw some trunk below the roots for it to sit in the shallower pot.

IMAG2303.jpg

IMAG2306.jpg



So no fertilizer for how long?
Any input on how the roots looked as these were in bad soil.
 

Adair M

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#9
The time to repot olives is when they are actively growing. For me, that's summer. If yours are actively growing, you're ok.

Olives are very strong. They should do fine. I do rooteork and styling at the same time on mine.
 
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#10
Roots look great:p. Personally use 1/2 strength root stimulant upon repotting(not on foliage). If growth starts begin fertilizer. Have also started using HB101 plant vitalizer on foliage upon repotting;). As long as transpirtion happening fertilizer can be used.
 
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#11
Here's how the trees look this morning. Believe the pots are a bit oversized?

IMAG2311.jpg

Got these to be repotted today hopefully. A bit hesitant to repot the cedar as its done well despite the bad soil.

IMAG2320.jpg
IMAG2317.jpg


These two will get a repot to better soil today. Left one I'll ground layer the lower part of the trunk to get rid of the reverse taper and then chop the trunk and restyle in coming months. Rt one I'll chop above the bulge in few months and decide on how to style.

IMAG2318.jpg
 
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#12
Roots look great:p. Personally use 1/2 strength root stimulant upon repotting(not on foliage). If growth starts begin fertilizer. Have also started using HB101 plant vitalizer on foliage upon repotting;). As long as transpirtion happening fertilizer can be used.
Will look for root stimulant and use thanks.
 
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#13
The time to repot olives is when they are actively growing. For me, that's summer. If yours are actively growing, you're ok.

Olives are very strong. They should do fine. I do rooteork and styling at the same time on mine.
I'm in a bit warmer weather, we did have a longer winter but trees have started budding and growing so guess it's a good time to repot. Was a bit hesitant as they were in very bad soil and I lost 2 olives and probably a pine...
For the ones I reputed guess as advised I'll take out the evident bad branches so I can start considering a style to each.
 

Adair M

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#14
The repotted trees look good. You don't need rooting hormone when repotting. Go ahead and put them out in the sun, and keep them watered.
 

Eric Group

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#16
Yes some are unhealthy but some are doing amazing. I was repeatedly told here that I needed to get them out of the soil they're in. I already list a few due to root rot and some i saved with an emergency repot as they were dying. For some the soil is really bad (water doesn't even drain)
Am not keen on restyling if it causes added risk I can always wait till next year. Only reason I ask is cause I don't know if I should wire, prune and do heavy branch work... In spring preferably or if in hit summer days is still acceptable. If it's too much I can always delay to summer or next year.
Don't have access to "fancy" soil I usually go with what works and I can unfortunately only find pumice and some clay balls.
Trees Are a mix some are ready for styling and some still need to be cut back and regrown. Again no rush doing all the above but as am reporting ABD roots are u covered I thought I'd at least cover root work and maybe some pruning and cut backs if it's not risky for the Tree. A quick search on my older threads will show how on each of my posts I was told soil was bad and trees needed to be out
If they are in poor draining soil due to being totally root bound, yeah they NEED a repot. Looking at the pics you posted the trees looked fine and healthy and I think you did a great job with them! Cheers
 

Bonsai Nut

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#17
The olives look good - good roots and good soil. Some of your other trees appear to be in really poor soil - I would prioritize getting those repotted when you have time.

Olives like open porous soil that drains freely. They like drier roots and once established can get by with very minimal watering. They are native to Mediterranean climates, so their active growth time is late winter to early summer, and they go into dormancy in the late summer until the rains return.

They throw a lot of sucker growth (which you generally want to eliminate) and will bud back strongly on old wood. They prefer slightly alkaline soil with high levels of dissolved calcium. Commercial olive growers often supplement their soil with agricultural lime (calcium carbonate) but don't add lime unless you have done a pH test on your soil beforehand. In Southern California where the soil is natural alkaline with high levels of dissolved calcium, they grow strongly even in nutrient poor clay soil.
 
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#18
If they are in poor draining soil due to being totally root bound, yeah they NEED a repot. Looking at the pics you posted the trees looked fine and healthy and I think you did a great job with them! Cheers
Thanks. Repoted olives all looking great as per pics i received from my wife. I should be back home in couple weeks to confirm and update with pictures.
 
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#19
The olives look good - good roots and good soil. Some of your other trees appear to be in really poor soil - I would prioritize getting those repotted when you have time.

Olives like open porous soil that drains freely. They like drier roots and once established can get by with very minimal watering. They are native to Mediterranean climates, so their active growth time is late winter to early summer, and they go into dormancy in the late summer until the rains return.

They throw a lot of sucker growth (which you generally want to eliminate) and will bud back strongly on old wood. They prefer slightly alkaline soil with high levels of dissolved calcium. Commercial olive growers often supplement their soil with agricultural lime (calcium carbonate) but don't add lime unless you have done a pH test on your soil beforehand. In Southern California where the soil is natural alkaline with high levels of dissolved calcium, they grow strongly even in nutrient poor clay soil.
Most olives except 3 ones have been repotted. A couple more and remaining 3 trees will be repotted in 2 weeks time. Im hesutating on a cedars repot as its the first time i repot one. I wont remove all soil as i know they dont take to bare rooting well...
Will also do some branch work and wiring on the already repotted ones.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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#20
You did a good job, and the pots don't look too big for the trees. Be careful wrapping wire around the trunks, however, because you won't be able to see when it starts cutting in to the trunk. It would have been better to put a screw into the trunk, below the soil line, and used it as a anchor point. Here is the method I and many others use to secure trees to pots. Where my photos show the wire passing over a root, you could have had them passing over a screw partly inserted in the trunk; below the soil line.
IMG_0120.JPG IMG_0118.JPG IMG_0119.JPG
 

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