Repotting Season Questions??


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Stedman, NC
I have multiple different species and all sizes of pines, maples, and conifers that I am looking to repot this week. I am fairly new to the bonsai culture, and have just barely made it through my first year tending to them.
Most of them are in 1gal nursery pots. Is simply slip potting them to the next size (2gal) pot, and adding soil sufficient enough? Of course I will perform a light root trim, and comb out the roots a little, but I do not want
to over do it as I am new to this after all.
Second, currently they are all in a pine bark, pumice mixture based medium. Should I continue to use this type of medium, or switch to something like Tiny Roots Premium Blend (Akadama, Lava Rock, Pumice)?
Third, what is the best type of granular/packet type fertilizer I can use? I can't seem to find exactly what I should be using.. I have no idea what I'm doing.. PLEASE HELP!?


Imperial Masterpiece
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Yackandandah, Australia
Very little in bonsais black and white. You are likely to get a whole range of different answers to these questions as different growers get different results in different places.
Slip potting (with appropriate combing outer roots to encourage them to use the new soil) should give you good growth but it won't address the issue of god nebari. Attractive, evenly spread surface roots are really valued for bonsai but the vast majority of commercially produced plants do not have well set up rootsystems owing to the way they are propagated and grown. As the trees and roots get thicker root problems become increasingly obvious and increasingly more difficult to fix. I'm all for addressing roots as early as possible so I would prefer to do a thorough root check and adjustment now if possible.

Soil mix is less critical in grow pots/ The deeper and larger the container the less critical soil is so many growers develop trees for bonsai in standard soil mixes. Others prefer to get trees into good bonsai mix earlier on the grounds that won't need to be changed out when the trees are moved down to bonsai sized pots. Both approaches will work so it often comes down to availability and cost.

Trees are not fussy about fertilizer, that's people who obsess about what's good or best. None of my trees can read so they don't care what packet their nutrients come from provided they get the nutrients they need. Just use what you can easily get in your area.


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Sonoma County, CA
If you are looking to grow these out to get more size or girth then most any free draining soil mix will work . Search this site as there are countless threads on soil mixes. You don't really need expensive custom mixes till you get closer to finished trees.

With respect to repotting I like to repot trees pretty often every year or two at most because I like to have the best rootage and Nebari I can on my trees. so I do pretty extensive roowork when I'm building the base. This will slow down the growth of my trees but will provide much higher quality and aesthetics when all is said and done.

Most deciduous trees can be best repotted with extensive rootwork or barerooted after having grown well the previous year. They need to be strong and healthy. The timing is best in late winter early spring as the buds swell. with the peak time being around when buds have broken open but the leaves have not really emerged. Once the leaves have opened up they will need those roots to provide them with water so it will be too late to repot if you are doing rootwork , as a general rule. If you are just slip potting to a bigger size pot you have much more leeway and flexibility. Most healthy trees will not skip a beat with something like that.

Conifers generally get repotted after deciduous from mid to late spring. General rule is to not bareroot most conifers.

When repotting try to keep in mind if you are cutting roots you want to balance the foliage with roots. Otherwise your foliage may die because there are not enough roots to provide them with the water and nutrients they need.

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