Is it too late to repot my…..?

This question is regularly asked by beginners in bonsai. The answer given is usually along the lines of ‘repotting deciduous species must be done as the buds swell and before the leaves open.’

For many years I have stuck with this repotting rule but recently have started to question its validity. Sure it works but is it entirely accurate? Some new information has indicated that this rule may be far more prescriptive than necessary. Continue reading

Repotting Aussie natives

I love bonsai and I’m also passionate about Australian Native Plants so it was natural for me to try to grow Aussie natives as bonsai. Originally I tried to use the Japanese timing and techniques and had many abrupt failures so gave up on natives as bonsai for many years. More recently, information from committed growers has led me back to growing natives as bonsai. Word was spreading that many of our natives dislike having roots pruned in the traditional winter/ spring period but thrive when repotted during the summer. Several years ago I set out to confirm this with a series of trials. Continue reading

Root pruning and repotting

Bonsai grow in the confined space of a relatively small pot. The roots of all plants keep growing to renew the active root tips that actually do the work of absorbing watera nd nutrients. After a couple of years these constantly growing roots have so filled the spaces in the potting mix that vital air and water cannot enter the mix and the tree will not stay healthy. It is very important to repot bonsai (and indeed, all potted plants) regularly to keep them healthy. Root pruning does not keep a bonsai small. In fact just the opposite. After rootpruning and repotting in fresh mix with new nutrients and room for new roots to grow we usually see an explosion of growth for the first year. The picture in this post will give a good idea of how I root prune and repot deciduous bonsai. Continue reading


It is June at Shibui Bonsai and that means winter. We have had a few light frosts so far this season but this morning was probably the coldest yet.

Frost on a trident maple

Here in Australia we do not have to contend with really severe cold that growers in some other areas get. My cold hardy trees stay outside without any protection all winter without any ill effects, in fact I think it might even be good for them. Low temperatures help to induce some trees to flower better and I hope that some of the pests and diseases will also be killed during cold weather. My ficus, which are NOT cold hardy, live in the unheated poly igloo which provides enough protection to get them through the winter here.  Continue reading