Spreading Nebari

Alex DeRuiter

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I was wondering if anyone had techniques they could share for spreading a nebari. I did an air layer on a Brazilian Rain Tree last year and it took pretty well. Now the roots are growing strong, but they're growing downward. I cut the portion below the layer earlier this year, so I'll be waiting until at least next spring -- depending on the vigor of the tree -- to repot.

I've seen one technique where someone planted a tree on a board and pretty much nailed the roots in place (or at least "guided" the roots with the placement of the nails). Could anyone suggest anything different to sort of flatten the nebari of this tree?



 

bonsaiTOM

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Many people place a flat tile beneath the tree when repotting.

However I've never done this and have wondered how the tree gets wired into the pot while the tile is 'in the way'.

Maybe we'll both learn something here!
 

Umeboshi

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I have put trees in the ground planted on tiles to encourage a good spreading nebari. Never tried it with trees already in pots. I imagine you could run your wire up around the edges of the tile and secure the tree as normal. You will want to leave space between the edges of the tile and the sides of the pot so the roots can grow around and under the tile. It is important to not limit the roots with the tile, only to ensure that they spread out nice and shallow first before extending below and producing the strong root mass needed for the development of the tree.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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For sure, I was planning on planting the tree on a tile of some sort (perhaps an unused small plate). The thing I'm wondering is, would it be better to wire the roots and then plant it? I'm worried about scarring the roots. I'll have to actually pry some of the roots up when I repot it and plant it onto a tile, so I was wondering if there are any techniques beyond just wiring them.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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It might be tougher to do this when planting it in the ground, but some bamboo skewers are good for moving roots around. You might be able to drill some holes in the tiles and run wires through the holes and use them to tie the skewers down, pinning the roots in place.

DSC02878.jpgDSC02880.jpgDSC02955.jpgPicture 001.jpgPicture 003.jpg
 

Randy

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Brain,

That is interesting. Why are the sticks in squares around the tree. Pardon my ignorance but I'd love to know what is going on in detail with these pictures. Still quite relevant to the thread as well.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Brian, thanks for your input. I was thinking along those lines as well. Lucky (unlucky?) for me, this is a tropical tree so it'll be in a pot its whole life. I love the idea of drilling holes in a tile and wiring from there...that seems like a very effective way to achieve what I'm looking for. The bamboo skewers is also a good idea for spreading the roots.

I figured I should share the link to the site where I found the idea of guiding the nebari with nails in a board upon which the tree is planted. Here it is ;)

Link
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Brain,

That is interesting. Why are the sticks in squares around the tree. Pardon my ignorance but I'd love to know what is going on in detail with these pictures. Still quite relevant to the thread as well.

When a tree's roots are small, mostly fibrous, or the pot doesn't have anchor holes where they are needed, it's safer for the roots (and more effective) to pin down multiple root sections under skewers rather than anchor a few smaller ones.

Run wires up through holes in the bottom of the pot, and tighten them down on top of the intersection of the skewers so the pressure is dispersed along the length of the skewers. Bamboo is flexible, doesn't break easily, and lasts about 2 seasons in the soil.
 

jk_lewis

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I have put trees in the ground planted on tiles to encourage a good spreading nebari. Never tried it with trees already in pots. I imagine you could run your wire up around the edges of the tile and secure the tree as normal. You will want to leave space between the edges of the tile and the sides of the pot so the roots can grow around and under the tile. It is important to not limit the roots with the tile, only to ensure that they spread out nice and shallow first before extending below and producing the strong root mass needed for the development of the tree.

In a pot, you don't use a tile. You use a board, with as many holes drilled through it as needed to wire the tree in place. And before someone says that the board will just rot: Who cares?
 

Alex DeRuiter

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Thanks for the input, everyone.

Jkl, do you think that the rotting wood could cause any health issues with the tree?

Also, do you think securing the tree with twine would be a good substitute for wire? Otherwise I could use plastic tubing around the wire. . . .
 

Adair M

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I did it with my airlayerd zelkova. I used a board. I screwed the trunk of the tree onto a piece of plywood, from the bottom. It took two screws so it wouldn't wiggle. Then I splayed out the roots, and I used screws rather than nails to direct the roots to where I wanted them to be.

Wiring the tree to the pot was easy, just attached my pot wire to some of the screws on the board.

It's in a little deeper pot than I wanted, because of the thickness of the plywood.

IMG_0402 (640x478).jpgIMG_0395 (640x478).jpgIMG_0414 (640x478).jpgIMG_0418 (640x478).jpg
 

fore

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Very slick Brian! Never seen bamboo skewers used like that.
 

Adair M

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Who's Brian? Not me!

The "skewers" are chopsticks I used to make the roots undulate up and down.

I used the wires tied to the screws to secure the plywood to the pot.

Here's today's photo. I somehow manged not to kill it when potting.IMG_0440 (478x640).jpg

And, I just put the plywood on the bottom of the pot. Then added the soil around. The roots should not really go back under the plywood, there's no soil there.
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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Who's Brian? Not me!

I am. See post #6.

Nice work on zelkova nebari, wonder if you can bind up the bulges at the chop to hold the swelling back a couple years until the rest catches up.
 

Adair M

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Yeah, I've been wondering about that, too. I purchased this zelkova this winter. It was sitting on the back shelf of the local bonsai shop, kinda neglected and rangy. Big chunks of moss hiding the nebari... it was a mess. So I thought I'd rescue it. It came from California, and the shop owner aquired it as a part of a larger collection.

Anyway, I'm thinking of getting a metal band that you can tighten up with a screwdriver, you know to hold rubber fittings on pipes? Maybe I can slip one of those things around it. I wish whoever had it before me had done something like that. (But then, it probably would on someone else's shelf!)
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Good idea, hose clamp over the top of a piece of rubber. If that would slow it down, the tree would go from good to great in a couple seasons.
 

Adair M

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Thanks, Brian! Will give it a shot!
 

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