Repotting Season is here….for me   2 comments

Each year in January I get ready for the repotting season. The time gets busy from the lazy days of summer and time is spent while it is cold mixing soil and gathering the trees and preparing them for various projects. This year I continue my quest for developing maples. For the most part I am not breaking new ground. Most of the stuff I wish to do is pretty boring as it has been done for decades.


It started last week when I drove to Sacramento for more soil stuff. With the procurement of the larger baskets to grow in, I would need more soil to put in them. This is a view of the soil pile thru the gate. Lava and a 50/50 mix of lava/pumice.


I would put all my stuff together for this years soil mix. Lava and base mix a long with akadama, six bags.


The mocha lava as it is called is a mix of lava and pumice. It is graded for size about 1/4 to 5/16 inch. perfect size for bonsai soil.


A close up of the material


For those of you still trying to grow plants in turface and not getting a good mixture of air into your soil, this is why. a comparison of particle size between what I use and turface on the right.


Here is a close up of the 50/50 breakdown of the base mix. lava on the left and pumice on the right. This photo just shows them seperated for a visual comparison.


I use two grades of lava as an addition to my mix. The larger for most of my trees and the smaller for making shohin soil for exhibition trees and soil topping. Shohin trees in the growth phase use the larger mix. The smaller mix is just for a visually appealing look when seen in exhibition.


For the first project I have started with a large 12 inch terra cotter water saucer. This is the dish that sets under a large terra cotta pot. I cut the rim off with a diamond blade in a mini grinder. Five holes have been drilled into the disk. In Gary Woods blog he has shown how merging tridents with a disk and five hole drilled into a pattern of the number five on a craps dice.


The disk measure sabout 9.5 inches after the rim is removed.


Holes I drilled are 1.25 inches across.


I found these 6 plants in the growing area. The blue pot has a pair of tridents in it and the others are single trees. The pair are root connected and will have to be seperated to be planted in the disk


All the branches are removed so that the trees will fit thru the holes. The branches were removed  properly leaving either a pair of buds at the base or a small stub which will sprout at bud break. With the removal of the branches now the tree should explode with super hard growth. When I take the roots apart they will cut back super hard since there are no branches on the tree.


I try threading the trees thru the holes just to see what it will look like. The large colander it is setting in is the pot that will house this project for the next couple years. The project will be prepared this weekend and a follow up to that project will be added later. I suspect that trunks will fill the holes by seasons end and then next year the base should begin to layer at the disk. While the idea is old and tried many times before, it is new for me and this old man is excited.



Posted January 9, 2014 by California Bonsai Art in Repotting

2 responses to “Repotting Season is here….for me

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  1. That is well done
    Was watching and then bag it hit me. Show us in 5 years. I think you are on to something
    Qualicum Brian

  2. I like your thinking here Al…. You are using much more advanced trees to begin this process which I think will put you a couple of seasons ahead for sure. I too have put a couple of these together after reading Gary’s blog, but instead of using tiles or terracotta plates as you have, I decided to try some squares of 1/8th inch thick 6061 aluminum alloy I had left over from some art projects I was doing…. I drilled 5 x 1/2″ holes in the dice pattern which ended up being about 4″ square in the centre of the aluminum tile. I’ve used 2yo seedlings as that’s all I had on hand, however I didn’t have the rapid growth in the season as you did Al, due to getting severely smashed this Spring with this relentless fungal attack on my entire Trident collection of over a hundred trees and seedlings. Consequently, some of the 5 piece settings have suffered, and I lost a few of the seedlings. No way of replacing them until next repot. I figure the aluminum tiles will cut into the growing trunks quite quickly forcing the cambium and outer bark layer to spread a little quicker? Got to get the trees back to good health first, before I can expect any great girth gains. Actually I’ve just had a thought Al…. I have some surplus ficus here around the same size as these tridents of yours…. might try your advanced version with them…..
    great project for the week end!

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