Root Pruning And Why

milehigh_7

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I have been reading Vance Wood's excellent article over at KoB entitled, "Root Pruning And Why".

http://www.knowledgeofbonsai.org/pruning/root.php

My question relates to the kind of root work discussed in the article.

During the root reduction cycles, such as those discussed in this article, how much if any top work/ training is suggested and how often?


Thanks a million everyone!
 
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Eric Schrader

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I just read through the article, I think I read it a while ago. I would say that Vance is being a bit conservative with his root pruning technique. But then I might fall into the impatient category. I tend to take something like what he is describing, follow about what he does in his first step but remove a wedge of soil at the same time. I will admit that I just tried this the other day with a nursery-grown willow and after an hour of frustration at hacking on the rootball I decided to girdle the tree and layer it off the rootball right above the old surface roots. (this was also to eliminate a reverse taper problem.)

Really, for me, waiting three years from one repot to the next would only be necessary on difficult trees such as Pines or on very old trees. If you were doing this on a maple you could repot the following year I would think, assuming you had done a good job fertilizing and watering. Really, the health of the tree, as evidenced by the growth quality and rate will guide you better than any arbitrary timing.

As for what you do with the top while this whole process is underway....first repot, then gauge the response of the plant by watching how the growth comes out afterward. If it grows strongly then begin styling work on the top, if not, wait until it starts growing strongly before attempting to style the tree.
 

Vance Wood

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I just read through the article, I think I read it a while ago. I would say that Vance is being a bit conservative with his root pruning technique. But then I might fall into the impatient category. I tend to take something like what he is describing, follow about what he does in his first step but remove a wedge of soil at the same time. I will admit that I just tried this the other day with a nursery-grown willow and after an hour of frustration at hacking on the rootball I decided to girdle the tree and layer it off the rootball right above the old surface roots. (this was also to eliminate a reverse taper problem.)

Really, for me, waiting three years from one repot to the next would only be necessary on difficult trees such as Pines or on very old trees. If you were doing this on a maple you could repot the following year I would think, assuming you had done a good job fertilizing and watering. Really, the health of the tree, as evidenced by the growth quality and rate will guide you better than any arbitrary timing.

As for what you do with the top while this whole process is underway....first repot, then gauge the response of the plant by watching how the growth comes out afterward. If it grows strongly then begin styling work on the top, if not, wait until it starts growing strongly before attempting to style the tree.
I probably should have clarified a point in my article, it was geared mostly toward conifers, Pines in particular.
 

Vance Wood

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I have been reading Vance Wood's excellent article over at KoB entitled, "Root Pruning And Why".

http://www.knowledgeofbonsai.org/pruning/root.php

My question relates to the kind of root work discussed in the article.

During the root reduction cycles, such as those discussed in this article, how much if any top work/ training is suggested and how often?


Thanks a million everyone!
You can work on the top at any time depending on the species. Using Mugo Pines, Scots Pines, Japanese Maples and Shimpaku Junipers I have done major root reduction and major pruning at the same time with no adverse effects. With the above species you can even wire. Of course for the procedure I use the screen sided training planter.
 

Vance Wood

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I just read through the article, I think I read it a while ago. I would say that Vance is being a bit conservative with his root pruning technique. But then I might fall into the impatient category. I tend to take something like what he is describing, follow about what he does in his first step but remove a wedge of soil at the same time. I will admit that I just tried this the other day with a nursery-grown willow and after an hour of frustration at hacking on the rootball I decided to girdle the tree and layer it off the rootball right above the old surface roots. (this was also to eliminate a reverse taper problem.)

Really, for me, waiting three years from one repot to the next would only be necessary on difficult trees such as Pines or on very old trees. If you were doing this on a maple you could repot the following year I would think, assuming you had done a good job fertilizing and watering. Really, the health of the tree, as evidenced by the growth quality and rate will guide you better than any arbitrary timing.

As for what you do with the top while this whole process is underway....first repot, then gauge the response of the plant by watching how the growth comes out afterward. If it grows strongly then begin styling work on the top, if not, wait until it starts growing strongly before attempting to style the tree.
If you read the article I suggest that you use a screen sided device of some kind for this process. The problem is that in this potted environment the tree responds really well. The tendency is to mess with the roots too early after the first reduction, even if the tree seems to be doing well, roots showing themselves through the screens and so on. If you are dealing with a Pine and you reduce the roots again before three years you are running the risk of killing the tree. I believe it is the shock factor more than anything, but take the advise for what its worth, I have been using this method for about twenty-five years. I do agree that some sort of arbitrary timing is not always a good idea but in this case wisdom and caution are better than bravado and a dead tree.

Going back to the subject of Pines. In the literature you will not find any source that suggests that you can do major root work, like repotting and root reduction at an interval shorter than three years. Most Pine cultivation authorities suggests five. Maples and other deciduous trees respond to their own parameters; two to three years. Junipers I also go back to the three year window. I have found with Shimpaku Junipers you can do almost anything you want to the tree: Major reduction, top and bottom, wire, dead wood etc.-----once. After that you had better give it at least three years to develop new roots or (if you don't kill the tree) you will put it into an extended period of very slow and weak growth. This is not theory, this is all experience with my methods.
 
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milehigh_7

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Thanks Vance!

Vance thank you so much for the added information. I appreciate your contributions very much.

For many of us, dealing with nursery stock is a reality that enables us to participate in the art. I know it is not the "preferred" way to get material but given that it is at times necessary, it is good to receive expert advice in dealing with the unique difficulties it presents.


Thanks to everyone who has participated in this thread and I welcome all of your advice.
 

Vance Wood

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Vance thank you so much for the added information. I appreciate your contributions very much.

For many of us, dealing with nursery stock is a reality that enables us to participate in the art. I know it is not the "preferred" way to get material but given that it is at times necessary, it is good to receive expert advice in dealing with the unique difficulties it presents.


Thanks to everyone who has participated in this thread and I welcome all of your advice.
I'm glad it is of some help to you, thanks for saying so.
 

FrankP999

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Vance, Thanks also for this helpful information. Having the benefit of your 25 years of experience is tremendously valuable. Your articles are great but the added benefit of being able to "pick your brain" is fantastic. I am always knocked out by the generosity of experts like yourself to help out new folks.

Frank
 
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