The Rookie
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Should I repot yet?

Hello-

I have two (2) trees that I need to repot this spring. One is a Chinese Elm. The other is a Juniper. I live in Kansas City, MO and temperatures are ranging from 30 - 60 degrees in the next few weeks.

Is it too cold or too early for me to repot the trees? I want to repot them right as they are coming out of dormancy before they start growing. Please give me your opinions and signs (the appearance of buds or new growth) to look for.

Also, I am going to repot & fuse the trunks of 4 ficus retusas (3 large trees and 2 well-rooted cuttings). I plan on repotting those in May right before I put the ficus outside. Please let me know if you think I am going about that in the right way.

I've killed 3-4 trees in the repotting process and kept three alive. This was my first successful winter with temperates. My temperate trees the past 3 - 4 years have all died at various times. I've put too much time and effort into these two trees to kill them.

Your opinions and comments are appreciated.

Thanks.

Jason

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Gnome
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Jason,

I've re-potted a Chinese Elm last week and everything seems OK. New buds are plumping up and are nice and green. In all honesty though, I did rush it a little and I am now sheltering this tree inside at night.

If your tree is still dormant there is no rush. Get a hand lens and examine the shoots at the locations of last years leaves. If you see buds swelling the time is at hand. I assume you have fresh mix on hand.

You can hold off a while for the Juniper I have done mine twice now, both time a little later in spring.

Norm

WatchMeShove
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repot

I just planted two chinese elms from a pot into the ground this week, I like to do it before the plant starts to come out of dormancy but right after the last frost. This way the plant has time to get a little root establishment in it's new habitat before it worries about making buds and leaves. You don't really want to replant it if it might freeze again, because the repot might shock it a little and then a freeze may come along and wipe it out. With a juniper, I'll repot one in the middle of the winter or summer, it shouldn't matter. I have repotted junipers at all times of the year and never killed one, they are hardy plants. When you say that you have killed three plants repotting and three plants have lived, maybe you should be more careful when repotting. Plants shouldn't ever die just from a repot, maybe you need to take a closer look at how you treat the plant AFTER the repot.

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Norm-

Thank you for your help. You are a great resource of knowledge regarding bonsai.

I want to get the Chinese Elm out of the soil it is in right now. It was sent to me last June in very thick (almost sand-like) soil. It's current soil does not drain worth a da*n. That is the biggest reason I am so antsy to repot.

You are correct in your assumption. I do have fresh mix on hand. I sifted some "bonsai soil" from a local nursery and added akadema to the soil. It's about 1/4 akadema and 3/4 soil. This mix should drain much better than the soil the tree is in now. It should also allow for better root growth in my opinion.

Its supposed to snow here Saturday, but we are going to have temperatures ranging from 37 - 62 degrees after saturday. I will probably repot on Sunday when temperatures are in upper 40s to mid-50s range. I will bring the tree inside at night just to be safe.

Thanks again Norm.

Jason

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Re: repot

Thank you for your response. Please see my responses below in bold font.
WatchMeShove wrote:I just planted two chinese elms from a pot into the ground this week, I like to do it before the plant starts to come out of dormancy but right after the last frost. Why are you planting them into the ground? This way the plant has time to get a little root establishment in it's new habitat before it worries about making buds and leaves. You don't really want to replant it if it might freeze again, because the repot might shock it a little and then a freeze may come along and wipe it out. With a juniper, I'll repot one in the middle of the winter or summer, it shouldn't matter. I have repotted junipers at all times of the year and never killed one, they are hardy plants. When you say that you have killed three plants repotting and three plants have lived, maybe you should be more careful when repotting. One Juniper was blown over in very high winds. The pot broke, and I had to repot in the middle of summer. I believe I fertilized the tree too soon after I repotted it. The other was a small, young juniper which got twig blight (a fungus) after reotting. I've also killed a few cuttings that I was trying to root (my fiance did not water them for a week when I was out of town :-). ) Plants shouldn't ever die just from a repot, maybe you need to take a closer look at how you treat the plant AFTER the repot.

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Jason,
I sifted some "bonsai soil" from a local nursery and added akadema to the soil. It's about 1/4 akadema and 3/4 soil.
Just to confirm, when you say soil you do not actually mean 'soil' do you? My bonsai medium/mix/soil contains no actual soil. Which is not to say that it is entirely inorganic, I do use Pine bark in nearly everything.

Forgive me if I am assuming too much. You have waited and done the right thing so far and I just don't want you to make a misstep at the last minute. You will be thoroughly cleaning the roots of the old clay, correct? I use water from a garden hose to help in this. Since it is being re-potted from the clay/peat based medium you may find that there are not a lot of feeder roots. It would probably be best to keep any root pruning to an absolute minimum this first time.

Please stop back and let us know how it goes for you.

Norm

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GardenerX
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Hello,

I repoted my 3 year old Juniper about 2 weeks ago. It was in a plastic training pot and I put it in a Cascadeing Bonsai Pot. It adds an extra little somthing to my plant work area and I can't wait for it to start cascadeing down. It's looking good right now, I accualy think it has new little bud things. They are bright green and little and on the tips of the branches.

Here's some pics,

[img]https://i549.photobucket.com/albums/ii365/dragondude_2009/019.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i549.photobucket.com/albums/ii365/dragondude_2009/020.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i549.photobucket.com/albums/ii365/dragondude_2009/021.jpg[/img]
signed GardenerX,
Plants are children of Mother Earth and Father Time, as they cling to their mother for comfort today, Father Time works his ways to shape their FUTURE...

The Rookie
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Hi Norm-

No . . . its not actually soil. I don't know every item that is in it. I know here is some pine bark, some little white things, etc. I'm not at home so I cannot tell you exactly what is in it right now. I will look at the bag when I get home.

Thank you for the advice on the root-pruning. I was actually wondering about that. I thought root pruning would not be prudent at this point in time. I'm going to wash the roots off and do nothing else with them.

Per your suggestions, I will be cleaning the old roots of the clay. Although its not really clay-like. I would say the pot is filled with a non-draining, dark, sand mix. I'm really curious to see what kind of roots are inside this pot.

I really do think getting my chinese elm in this fast-draining/pourous mixture is going to do wonders for my elm's development. I posted about leaf die-back last summer and spoke with you about this tree. I thought about repotting last fall, but I wanted to put my elm through a dormancy period (If I remember correctly one is only supposed to do fall repots on elms being taken inside for the winter).

Thanks Norm.

Jason


Gnome wrote:Jason,
I sifted some "bonsai soil" from a local nursery and added akadema to the soil. It's about 1/4 akadema and 3/4 soil.
Just to confirm, when you say soil you do not actually mean 'soil' do you? My bonsai medium/mix/soil contains no actual soil. Which is not to say that it is entirely inorganic, I do use Pine bark in nearly everything.

Forgive me if I am assuming too much. You have waited and done the right thing so far and I just don't want you to make a misstep at the last minute. You will be thoroughly cleaning the roots of the old clay, correct? I use water from a garden hose to help in this. Since it is being re-potted from the clay/peat based medium you may find that there are not a lot of feeder roots. It would probably be best to keep any root pruning to an absolute minimum this first time.

Please stop back and let us know how it goes for you.

Norm

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Jason,

I just went back and re-read your thread from last year. At the end you mentioned that new buds were emerging. I assume that once you began to water more appropriately everything was well. After all, no news is good news. :wink:

Everything seems to be on track then. Even though it seemed my concerns about black spot were unfounded, remember that new foliage is the most vulnerable. Make sure to remain vigilant and I'll see if I can get a picture this year. I'm going to try the Neem Oil this spring rather than Daconil. Hopefully I'll be able to report a good result, even though that might mean no pictures.

Oh, one more thing. Bagged soil has a tendency to break down a bit, just like chips. It certainly won't hurt to sieve your bagged mix to remove any fines. A piece of hardware cloth with about 1/8" openings is a pretty good size. Good luck.

Norm

Norm

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Norm-

I just checked the bag. The "bonsai soil" I bought contains screened bark, pumice, and mushroom compost (whatever that is). I also put akadem in there.

I will keep you updated on the elms progress, if any. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Jason

PS- Gardner X: I think that is going to be a very good cascade. I notice you are in TX. You're probably having warmer temps than me right now. Nonetheless, I am going to repot the trees this sunday.

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GardenerX
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Jason,

Thank you I surtenly hope it will be a good cascade, I wish you GOOD LUCK with both your tree's.
signed GardenerX,
Plants are children of Mother Earth and Father Time, as they cling to their mother for comfort today, Father Time works his ways to shape their FUTURE...

WatchMeShove
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yo

to answer your question, I am planting them in the ground to let the trunk get bigger faster.

TomM
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GardenerX - yes your juniper looks very nice and very happy in the classy cascade pot. I formerly lived in Tex. too. Back north here our junipers have been frozen all winter and always come out of winter with a different coloring - like reddish tips. It will be May before they take on the soft green lush new growth that yours shows. Best of luck with it - nice recovery from the 'repot'. I expect you will begin wiring the leader sometime in the future - give it a little twisting movement??
And ROOKIE in KC - It's great that you're giving us your progressive history about your trees. We all learn something from the experiences of others. Thanks & keep us posted.
TomM

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Re: yo

WatchMeShove wrote:to answer your question, I am planting them in the ground to let the trunk get bigger faster.
I suspected this was what you were trying to do. Have you done that before? If so, how quickly do the trees grow in your experience? How long have you left trees in the ground before?

WatchMeShove
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trunk

You would probably want to leave it in ground for not less than a year, but you could leave it in the ground all the way up to five years. You could even dig up the tree and do some root pruning in that time, then stick it back into the ground. With some species you can get a 5 or 6 inch trunk within 5 years. A good thing to do is dig up the tree and adjust the roots to make a good nebari, then replant it with top roots exposed so they grow nice and fat. The tree's growth all depends on the type of tree it is. Another thing I've been trying is tile planting. People say they have used 4" tiles but I have been trying 12" tiles which have worked well so far, and 12" tiles are needed for larger specimens anyway. What I do is plant the trees on top of the tile so the roots grow outwards rather than down, creating a great nebari. Also when you are digging the tree up all you need to do is dig around it and not under it. I don't know if you have ever tried to dig a tree up before, the taproot can be multiple feet under the surface. This is the benefit to tile planting, the tree's roots can only be as deep as you let them get.

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Re: trunk

WatchMeShove wrote:You would probably want to leave it in ground for not less than a year, but you could leave it in the ground all the way up to five years. You could even dig up the tree and do some root pruning in that time, then stick it back into the ground. With some species you can get a 5 or 6 inch trunk within 5 years. A good thing to do is dig up the tree and adjust the roots to make a good nebari, then replant it with top roots exposed so they grow nice and fat. The tree's growth all depends on the type of tree it is. Another thing I've been trying is tile planting. People say they have used 4" tiles but I have been trying 12" tiles which have worked well so far, and 12" tiles are needed for larger specimens anyway. What I do is plant the trees on top of the tile so the roots grow outwards rather than down, creating a great nebari. Also when you are digging the tree up all you need to do is dig around it and not under it. I don't know if you have ever tried to dig a tree up before, the taproot can be multiple feet under the surface. This is the benefit to tile planting, the tree's roots can only be as deep as you let them get.
Watchmeshove-

Do you know if Acer Palmatums will respond well to planting like this? I'm going to try this technique. I like the idea alot. I never thought of planting the tree on top of a tile . . . . brilliant.

What do you think about the depth of the tile. . . . . 1 to 3 inches maybe? Also, would you use the same type of potting mix as you would for a bonsai in a pot when planting in the ground?

Jason

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Re: trunk

WatchMeShove wrote:You would probably want to leave it in ground for not less than a year, but you could leave it in the ground all the way up to five years. You could even dig up the tree and do some root pruning in that time, then stick it back into the ground. With some species you can get a 5 or 6 inch trunk within 5 years. A good thing to do is dig up the tree and adjust the roots to make a good nebari, then replant it with top roots exposed so they grow nice and fat. The tree's growth all depends on the type of tree it is. Another thing I've been trying is tile planting. People say they have used 4" tiles but I have been trying 12" tiles which have worked well so far, and 12" tiles are needed for larger specimens anyway. What I do is plant the trees on top of the tile so the roots grow outwards rather than down, creating a great nebari. Also when you are digging the tree up all you need to do is dig around it and not under it. I don't know if you have ever tried to dig a tree up before, the taproot can be multiple feet under the surface. This is the benefit to tile planting, the tree's roots can only be as deep as you let them get.
One more question I forgot to ask about this procedure: Do you wait for a certain time in the year to do this? Would you recommend doing it in the Spring, Summer, or some other time?

Thanks.

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