More banksias

A couple of my smaller bonsai banksias started to develop dieback in some twigs toward the end of spring.

Many people would assume that, because these are banksias, the dead shoots would be the result of phosphorus toxicity. My experience with this genus led me to a completely different conclusion.

I have noticed that banksias have very dense fine roots that develop very quickly. Here’s what I found when this one was removed from the pot.

It definitely needs repotting.

First, trim back any long, fresh shoots.

When I cut through the root ball I found exactly what I was expecting – a dry patch in the middle.

That area is dry despite a thorough water last night and again this morning. The roots are so crowded that water has great difficulty penetrating which means the tree starts each day without a full pot of water. The dead shoots have nothing to do with P toxicity. They simply show a lack of water.

The remaining roots were trimmed quite a lot.

Note that there are no visible proteoid roots on this banksia because it gets regular fertiliser. Proteoid roots appear when banksias are short of nutrients and tend to disappear when the trees are fertilised regularly so paradoxically, regular fertiliser actually helps reduce the chance of P overdose for banksias.

Then back into the pot with fresh mix.

My experience with banksias as bonsai shows that the roots grow so fast that these need repotting every year to prevent them becoming root bound and having difficulties with water absorption. Fortunately they also seem very tolerant of the repotting process during the warmer months. This repot was carried out during a string of 40+C days in early January. New shoots continued to grow and more buds have sprouted since the repot. As usual, the freshly repotted tree went straight back to its usual position on the bench. The area is covered with light shade cloth this year but no other ‘aftercare’ was given.

I’ve found banksias to be very rewarding for bonsai. Why not have a try? Shibui bonsai normally has banksias available in a range of sizes including field grown trunks – see our banksia catalogue – hhttp://shibuibonsai.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Banksias-2018-1.pdf

Canberra 2018

Canberra Bonsai show was held over the weekend of October 13 and 14.

Shibui Bonsai again had a trade table this year. Sales were even more brisk than usual and we took home very few plants after the show.

Canberra Bonsai Society always put on a great show and the quality of the trees continues to improve each year. Here are a couple of the trees that took my eye. Continue reading

Banksias as bonsai

Summer has proved to be a good time to repot banksias and a couple of the shibui bonsai banksias were due for it this year.

When I first started to grow banksias for bonsai they were not very successful. Most just lasted a year or two then suddenly died. Given that banksias have a reputation for being quite sensitive I just thought the genus was not suitable then I started to see some great banksia bonsai and gradually pieced together a couple of important facts about banksia bonsai. Continue reading

Repotting natives

I usually repot any native plants in November or December. There were plenty that needed doing this season because I had not repotted for a couple of years. I find that many native plants grow lots of fine roots in the pots and quickly get to the stage where there is no room in the potting mix for water or air to penetrate. This mans that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the mix hydrated and I have lost quite a few trees because I have not repotted often enough. Continue reading

More pinching

For a while during the real heat of summer my trees slowed up and gave me a rest from pinching and pruning that is so constant during spring and early summer. The weather has started to cool a little and we have had a few light showers of rain. This is the time of year that the Australian natives just love and they have started to grow strongly. Continue reading

Native symposium

The 4th annual Australian Plants as Bonsai symposium was a great event. The fledgling Native bonsai club in Melbourne did a great job organising and scheduling and the venue worked well. As well as the speakers and workshops for symposium delegates there was a display of native bonsai with some awesome trees on show. I didn’t have time to take any photos but Gerard has posted both photos and descriptions of all the trees on Ausbonsai – http://www.ausbonsai.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=19796 You’ll have to sign in to view the pictures. Continue reading