page contents The Little Bonsai: Bonsai Repot - When is the best time to repot your Bonsai

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Bonsai Repot - When is the best time to repot your Bonsai

Re-potting your Bonsai - Root pruning is one of the most important things because the roots may start rotting at some point.


Potting is one of the most complicated subjects in bonsai but I can assure you that it's not rocket science and it's just a matter of paying attention. Many newcomers to the hobby make the mistake of putting a tree into a bonsai pot before it's ready. Honestly speaking, re-potting your Bonsai can make a big difference and is practically a must ''do'' if you want to see excellent results. If you are putting a tree into a training pot and are not going to root prune you can slip pot just about anything most of the time. This is simply placing the root ball in another pot which may or may not be larger. Root pruning and re-potting a root bound plant will refresh it and cause it to put out fresh growth. An other important aspect of pruning is the timing, make sure that the roots are neither too dry or to wet (because the roots can start rotting). 

Once again you must know what type of tree you have. Some trees grow so fast they must be root pruned and re-potted yearly. Others may need it every other year or some exceptionally slow growers every 3-5 years. Generally, tropicals are best re-potted and root pruned during the hottest part of the year when they are actively growing. Re-pot most temperate climate woody trees just before bud break or when they first start showing fresh white root growth. Usually this is accomplished in the early spring. Some species can also be re-potted in late fall. When re-potting a finished bonsai, the general practice is to remove one half to two thirds of the old soil and prune one third to one half of the roots. The tree is then replaced in the same pot. 

You should prune foliage from the tree when you remove roots. Pruning a comparable amount will save stress on the tree. For example, if you remove 1/3 of the roots, top prune 1/3 of the foliage. It may be easier to prune the foliage while the tree is still in its pot. Have everything you need at hand before you begin, tools, soil, pot, screen and wire. Do not do this in the bright sun light or the roots may dry out. Once the root are dried out, the tree will die and all efforts will be lost. Please bear in mind to chose a good spot to do the work, as this is ab absolute fundamental aspect in the process of re-potting.




Pull the plant out of the pot and attempt to untangle the roots. Some people use a root comb or even a fork will do. The roots should be trimmed all around so the tree will fit back in the container with fresh potting mix. Try to spare as many of the small, fine roots as you can. These smaller roots are more efficient at taking up water that the tree will need after the pruning.

Place a shallow layer of fresh soil in the bottom of the pot and set the root ball on it. Pour more soil around the roots, tamping it into place. Check the soil for air pockets. It can sometimes be hard to get soil to fill all crevices between the roots. One method is to manipulate a chopstick or wooden skewer between the roots to make the soil spill down. If you did not cut back the foliage yet, do so now.

Water the tree thoroughly. This will settle the tree into the new soil. The tree should be anchored in the pot some way so that the wind does not move it around in the soil. The tree should be placed in a semi-shaded location for two weeks. Do not fertilize until you see new growth. There it is, a new look and strong growing Bonsai tree for many years to come.


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Deciduous Bonsai Soil Mix

Deciduous Bonsai Soil Mix - The primary components are Akadama, Pumice and Black Lava. We also added a bit of Horticultural Charcoal and Haydite.
The primary components are Akadama, Pumice and Black Lava. We also added a bit of Horticultural Charcoal and Haydite. These components have been found over time to provide the best drainage, water retention, nutrient retention and air circulation possible to promote healthy bonsai.

- 1/2 Japanese Hard Akadama - is a clay like component that is excellent at retaining water and it breaks down allowing roots to grown in it's place.

- 1/4 Japanese Hyuga Pumice - is a volcanic byproduct that is excellent at retaining water and nutrients.

- 1/4 USA Black Lava Rock - is also a volcanic byproduct that is excellent at retaining moisture. Black lave also adds structure to the soil.

- Horticultural Charcoal -This was added to harbor beneficial bacteria and add humic acid in the soil.

- Haydite - (expanded shale) has the ability to absorb excess water then release it slowly back to the roots.



How Do I Use It?

This is "real" bonsai soil. Be sure your bonsai pot has holes in the bottom covered by bonsai mesh.

Each micro climate may require different amounts of water. On hot days you may need to water two times while around freezing you may need to water every few weeks. Push your finger 1" into the soil and feel for moisture. If it is dry, it is time to water.

2.5 Qt = @ 12 Cups


Interesting Books on Bonsai can be found here:

The Complete Book of Bonsai --> I've been into bonsai for 25 years and this is the basic Bible for beginner and intermediate bonsai enthusiasts. It has an excellent section on techniques, including pruning, wiring and whatnot, and it has a large species-specific tree guide. If you're into bonsai and want only one book, this is it.

Indoor Bonsai The Great Selection --> Creating beautiful, healthy bonsai is a wonderful skill that anyone can learn, with a little time, patience, and this all-inclusive manual. With color photos and drawings to illustrate the points, it introduces all the cultivation techniques; offers expert advice on location, soil types, watering, and pest control; and provides intricate instruction on training the bonsai--including pruning, wiring and stretching it.

The Secret Techniques of Bonsai --> In The Secret Techniques of Bonsai, the author of the groundbreaking Bonsai With American Trees teams up with his son to offer not only the basics for creating perfect bonsai, but also secret techniques they’ve developed over years of careful work and observation.

Bonsai Survival Manual --> Problem solving when your Bonsai get sick. Expand your gardening repertoire as you create a captivating and exquisite miniature world. In this introductory guide, Colin Lewis covers everything you need to know to design, grow, and successfully maintain attractive bonsai.

Bonsai and the art of Penjing --> Bonsai & Penjing, Ambassadors of Beauty and Peace describes how Chinese penjing and North American bonsai were later added to the Museum, making its collection the most comprehensive in the world. Stories of individual trees and forest plantings are featured, as are the roles played by the skilled and talented creators of these living art forms people such as John Naka, Saburo Kato, Yuji Yoshimura, Harry Hirao, and Dr. Yee-Sun Wu.

Bonsai with Japanese Maples --> With their delicate foliage, seasonal color changes, and intricate pattern of branching, Japanese maples are among the most popular and suitable plants for bonsai design. In this long-awaited book, internationally renowned expert Peter Adams discusses both the specific horticultural needs of Japanese maples as bonsai subjects and illustrates proven techniques for creating and maintaining beautiful specimens.

The Modern Bonsai Practice --> The most current, useful information on growing Bonsai. Fresh, practical, definitive, comprehensive reference guide to the finest art of horticulture: growing miniature trees. Common sense bonsai answers separating myth from fact with depth and detail. Appropriate for both bonsai hobbyists and experienced practitioners.


More Bonsai articles can be found here:

Please click here for more information on --> Chinese Penjing Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Origins of Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Art of Saikei Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Japanese Tanuki Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> How to Water a Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Bonsai Healing Methods



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