Repotting a Callistemon

Regular readers will have seen this callistemon before. It was started many years ago to replicate the river callistemons that grow in and along the creeks and rivers in my area.

This spring it has been wilting badly most days so I decided it was time to repot to give the roots more room.

With many other things demanding time this spring and hoping it would flower (flowers quite late, usually early December) I didn’t get around to repotting many of my natives until early December. I’m quite comfortable with this time as I’ve done most of them in December and had very few problems.

Here it is before pruning and repotting

Hoping to get some flowers this spring the tree has been allowed to grow without pruning since Feb last year. Callistemon flower at the tip of last year’s shoots so pruning through winter or spring will remove any flower buds even before you see them. there’s no sign of flower buds so I can go ahead and prune. this tree was pruned and root pruned on December 8th.

after pruning

The whole idea of this bonsai is to show the elongated, sparse branches that the trees in our local rivers have. When it gets too bushy the effect is lost so each summer I drastically reduce the new growth and thin out entire shoots to try to return the tree to the river swept image. i know this treatment is OK for Callistemon sieberii because it buds extremely well after pruning.

The Roots:

The pot was not quite as packed as I expected but i still went ahead with the repot.

I forgot to take a photo of the root ball after but I pruned more than half the roots and soil away. Given that most of the space is occupied by that rock that’s a significant root reduction.

Prepare the pot. The tree will go back into the same container. I use fibreglass plaster tape to retain the potting mix. you can see the pieces of tape over the holes in the photo below.

Add a layer of fresh potting mix then place the tree. Fill the remaining spaces with more mix then water it in well. there’s no need to wire this tree into the pot. With those roots clasping that rock it won’t move anywhere.

After watering the tree is returned to its normal place. This year I already have the 35% shadecloth up as temps were getting high quite early this year.

final after a summer prune and repot

It is now 2 weeks later. We’ve had some very hot weather with record temperatures through South-east Australia and temps here into the low 40Cs for a couple of days.

The tree has been watered well through those 2 weeks. I’ve aimed to keep it on the wet side rather than slightly dry. This species is a tree of rivers and creeks so it likes to have its roots wet.

New buds are now forming along the thinner branches.

This species always produces lots of buds. They are also sprouting further back on the branches.

and even way back on the main trunk.

As soon a those shoots on the trunk and older branches are large enough I’ll rub them off to try to retain the open look I’m aiming for. Terminal shoots usually get pinched a couple of times over the next month or 2 until it is time to leave them to grow hoping for flowers next summer.

River bottlebrush – a great tree for bonsai.

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