December is summer in Australia so here at Shibui Bonsai it is time to re-pot some of my native bonsai and potensai.
I started the day with my Callistemon ‘ waterswept’ bonsai. This one was slip potted into the current pot a few years ago but has not had a proper re-pot for quite a few years. It has finished flowering so it was time to stop procrastinating and get on with it.
Here is the tree before. The design is based on trees that grow in the bed of the nearby Ovens river with roots clambering over the rocks in midstream and all the growth battered downstream by frequent floods.
This one only produced a few flowers at the top of the tree this year. All the flowers have finished so it is a good time to re-pot.
After root pruning it was re-potted back into the same pot.
Potting mix is my standard mix with standard osmocote added.
I forgot to take a picture of the rootball after root pruning but the pile of old mix and roots I cut off will give you an idea how much the root ball has been reduced.
After potting the tree back into its pot it has been given a final trim to remove the old flowers and any excess branches.
To get flowers next summer I must now leave the new shoots to grow and mature because Callistemon flower only on the shoots that grew the previous season.
Finally the tree is given a good soak in water then put back on its stand which is in full sun most of the day.
December is summer at Shibui Bonsai and summer means working on pines.
I treat pines differently depending on what stage they are up to. Pines in ‘DEVELOPMENT’ are allowed to grow for a full season and sometimes 2 so the trunks thicken then they get cut back hard to get new shoots along the trunk and branches. Most of you will be aware that pines are reluctant to bud from bare wood so it is important NOT to let them get to the stage of having bare branches. You can cut branches back to anywhere there are needles but if you cut below the lowest needles, leaving bare wood it is likely that branch will die back.
Today I pruned a Japanese Red pine that is in the final stages of ‘DEVELOPMENT’.
First step is to cut back any long shoots that will not be useful in the final design. Remember to leave some needles on any branches you want to use.
Cut back the longest shoots
The lowest branch is too low to be useful so it was removed. Rather than cut it right off I have jinned it but the jin might be completely removed later if it does not suit the ultimate design.
possible front 1
This front has nice trunk movement but there is a shortage of branches on the left side.
possible front 2
There is a slight reverse taper in the trunk just near the top of the rock when viewed from front 2.
The shoots are still too long to be useful. I need to shorten them as much as possible at this stage to get more shoots as close as possible to the base of branches so all remaining shoots are cut back to leave just a few pairs of needles on each. New shoots should develop from the base of the remaining needles.
Front 1 after pruning
Finally, wire the remaining branches to make best use of any shoots and sub branching that are already present.
Front 2 after pruning
Now it is up to the tree to produce new buds and continue to grow. Next year it should be time to move to ‘MAINTENANCE’ pruning to fill out the branches with foliage pads.