Archive for the ‘pumice’ Tag

California Juniper no. 2 – Buruhon   2 comments

Buruhon in Japanese stands for bullhorn. It was the name given to this specimen in the desert by Harry Hirao when he seen it. Earlier this year during the repotting season, this juniper was given life saving care. It never went to adult foliage always staying with awl type foliage and the tree never flourished and always seemed on a slow steady decline. I figured the roots were probably the culprit and never really got a good foothold. Most of this is my fault as I simply just cannot wait to start getting them to a bonsai pot. Even though I started with a larger pot and worked it down over a few years, I probably should have allowed a couple of years growth between potting down rather than just one season. Its taken me a long time, but I now realize that just because it is alive does not mean it can be handled roughly, by repotting and things.

During repotting I chose a couple of plants this year to be the beneficiary of growing in 100% Grow Stones. This is a completely man-made product that functions exactly like pumice but is made from recycled glass. It can be purchased in hydroponic stores that cater to the weed trade. The reason I chose this tree was due to the poor and sickly look of the tree. Using a product for the first time as a stand alone ingredient has to be used by itself to really know in the product can do what it claims. The other tree I chose was a trident maple. It too was grown in 100% Grow Stones. The product worked very well for the juniper from a desert climate while the tridents suffered due to the product just not retaining enough water. The desert juniper is quite at home with more dry feet and so the pumice allowed a good exchange of air yet had a good moisture content when watered, and then tapered off as it dried. Much like the juniper would experience in the desert with a flash flood summer rain.

Eleven months later the tree has responded well to the pumice. Its foliage while still juvenile is growing very well. Most of the tips stay green now, as before they would brown off the shoot would stall. Now the shoots are elongating. I feel the roots are now in much better shape and have grown a lot since the repot. Some branches that were still wired when I repotted had now swollen and the wire was starting to bite which was a good sign since some of the wire had been on there since 2008 and had never seen and expansion of the limb.

Today I cleaned out all the old brown shoots that had died even after the repot. Some of the smaller branches had died and those were clean out as well. I decided that after the clean up I would wire the tree. It has not been wired since 2008 and the branches were pretty long. This tree has always suffered growing foliage and branches and not I really had something to work with. Not as much as I would have liked but now I will have a good base to expand on and the outline is much better than the tree has ever been.

This is the tree as it was collected. 2005


This is the first bonsai pot. It was very large or the tree and I had hoped that it would do much better than a correct size pot. 2007


This is the next size down. This is in 2008 and the only time the tree has been wired.


During this season repot this is the only roots I had on the tree. This is the backside of the tree. The only live side on the tree is the right side seen from the front.


This is the roots as seen from the front. This is not a lot of roots to support this tree. If I wanted more foliage i will need a proportionate amount of roots to get them.


This is the tree tied into the pot. The roots are tucked into one small corner.


Started to backfill the pot with 100% pumice. This is how the canopy looked at the time of repot. A lot of the foliage is dead and continues to die. New shoots come out and then just dry up and turn brown.


The tree is tied in with a hole drilled thru the trunk and then wired into the drain holes and tied.


At this point I stopped with the pumice and topped the tree off with my regular soil mix just so I didn’t have to stare at the stupid tan pumice all summer.


Today I started the work on the tree by cleaning up all the dead stuff. Watch dog looking on.


Too cold outside so Mommy put the sweater on the watch dog. All the dead stuff can be seen in the canopy. Notice on the top of the tree I have very strong upright-growing shoots, as well as other places on the tree.


This is what the tree looked like after cleaning out all the dead twigs, and dead needles. Lots of good growing foliage now.


This is as far as I could get today. I was tired and this was about 5 hours work. Still lots of detail wire to put on especially on the back of the tree. The canopy is too pointy and I want a rounder softer canopy, but will have to wait for more growth. I am pleased with the tree so far. It looks like the larger particle size as well as the greater air exchange seemed to save the life of this juniper. Maybe it will really look good next year with another year of growth.





Five Trees on a Plate Update   2 comments

Last year in Feb the five trees was placed thru a large terra cotta water saucer. The rim was cut off and five holes were drilled into it. The hole saw I used made an 1 1/4 inch hole. The trees I placed into the holes were trees grown out from cuttings I struck in 2010. The trees were about 5/8 to 3/4 inch across at the base.

This planting was grown out this year in grow stones only. No other planting medium was used. The grow stones are a synthetic pumice made from recycled glass. The medium worked good, and was a successful planting medium. I also planted a California juniper into the same mix so that I could compare which trees do better in the mix. Article coming soon on the results so far.

Here is the plate all prepared with the holes. The outsides of the holes form a circle about 5 inches in diameter. I plan to have a circle of roots with a fused base of about 8 to 9 inches or cover this saucer.


In this shot we can see that there is quite a bit of room for the trees in the holes.


This is what the whole thing looked like in the grow stones. The entire top of the planting was covered with an inch layer of long fiber moss.


This is what it looked like today. The trees have grown to about 6 feet tall.


This tree is the only one that grew large enough to start the girdle process. Once the tree is larger than the hole, the trunk begins to swell really fast.


The trunk is a full 1.75 inch across.


The other trees have some catching up to do, but that will be accomplished next year easy.


The pumice was piled above the plate as well as the inch of moss. The moss was successful in keeping the trunk wet during the day. The trunk is still wet after pushing back the top layer of pumice. What this did was cause some of the roots to sprout much too high on the trunk. I have taken the liberty to remove those now. I wish the roots to be right at the plate and start knitting there.





Whats cool about baskets is that if you set them on the ground, you get all the benifit of growun growing, but can still be lifted awy to take to a workshop if necessary. These roots will just be pruned away in spring.


It is my contention that I did not see the rampet growth from the pumice product that I wanted. The tree needed much more long lasting hydration than the fast drying pumice could produce. In spring, the entire planting will be changed out for a traditional ALP mix. The addition of akadama will get me the hydration reserve I need to keep the plant growing all day. This tree was in full sun all year 105 temps for weeks at a time. Next year will be no different except that the planting will stay cooler and wetter longer. I should see a huge improvement in the way the planting performs.



Repotting the Clump in a Basket   Leave a comment

The clump I started last year has fused at the base in one season. I started out with five cutting thru one hole with nary any space for the cutting so fusion was a no brainer. Now this year I need to bulk up the tree at the base as well as start to come up with some kind of trunk out of the mass of cutting I poked thru the hole.

This is the tree today before the work. All of the trees doubled in size, which is not to say much since they were as big as a match stick and now they are as big as a pencil.


The basket had been sitting on the soil in one of my planters so that the weekly sprinkler would water it. The roots grew right out of the planter and into the ground.


It wouldn’t come out of the pot so I had to cut all the roots flush with the bottom of the basket.


Once it was unpotted I was able to wash away the soil and really look at what I had. The roots had grown over the edge as I suspected they would and they were about half the size of the trunk. I was missing a few roots on one whole side though.


I cut back the large roots to the edge of the tile. I might have wished I cut them a little shorter as next year I may have to do this all over again. Also take a look at the tree at 9 o clock and three. the both have a bud down real low. Both buds face inwards. Since I started this project with all the trees thru the tile, I have no central tree to use as a main tree with a flared base. My original intention was to make a clump style but starting with trees all the same size is probably not the way to do it.


Here is a nice view of those two buds.


Here are the two trunks chopped back to the buds. I seal them well and they should grow very hard this year.



This clump is also grown out in pure agricultural pumice. This is natural volcanic pumice and stark white and a little smaller than the growstones. I turn the tree over and pack the bottom roots full of pumice using a chopstick. Since I didn’t cut the rim off the saucer when I did this, there is a pocket of sorts that the original roots grow in. I just need to make sure I have plenty of soil in there with no dry spots or cavities with no soil to dry the roots before they grow.


It is turned into the pot and then I refill the top with last years medium which is my base mix of half lava half pumice.


These are close ups of the two trunks that will be possible candidates for keeping for a single trunked tree depending on how they grow this year. Both have kionyl type sealer on them.



Posted January 12, 2014 by California Bonsai Art in Repotting

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Colander or Colonder?   2 comments

It must be Colonder because my Smart Ass Wife says I have my head up my ass and these will not work cause “these “pots” are full of holes and the soil will just fall out”.

Hah! just go back and take another nap and let me do the growing of trees. She is so helpful that way. I went back to the Super Asia Market and bought another load of baskets for all the projects I have with tridents this year.

The pink baskets I bought last week. This week I bought the larger ones and the smaller ones.


The green ones are 12″ x 3.5″, pink are 14″ x 5″, first blue is 18″ x 6″ and the big one is 23″ x 7″. I have no idea what I am going to put in the big ones yet. I think Frokensteen will go into the smaller of the two big ones.


I wish to talk about volume. A five gallon bucket filled to the brim holds 80 percent of a cubic foot. Most bagged soil amendments are sold by the cubic foot on the bag, sometimes it is in dry quarts or similar. The nursery container called a five gallon can at the nursery holds 3.5 gallons. It is pretty close to holding a half a cubic foot. The bucket holds my base mix, pumice and lava 50/50. To this I add the akadama. and sometimes huyga.


I put the large blue basket in my wheelbarrow and it barely fit. I poured in the contents of the bucket of mix and it came within two inches of the top leveled out.



On top of that I placed a bag of akadama. A bag of akadama contains half a cubic foot of material. I figure that this container will hold two bags of akadama easily, or about a cubic foot of soil. Thats a pretty big basket.


This is how much white space was left after pouring the bag of akadama into the bucket.


Oh I remember now. I know just what I am going to do with the big one. Savin that for a future super duper project.

Posted December 27, 2013 by California Bonsai Art in Repotting

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