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Friday, March 15, 2019

Bonsai and Pots

Last July we made our first trip to the Salem Art Festival in Salem, Oregon. It was at that wonderful festival that I purchased my pre-bonsai Chinese Elm tree.

A pre-bonsai has been partially trained and is significantly less expensive than a true bonsai. A pre-bonsai, therefore, is a great way for a beginner to learn the art of bonsai. Since I am the definition of beginner when it comes to bonsai, I purchased this book.

Purchasing the tree in the middle of summer meant there was little I needed to do besides keep it watered and fertilized. Much to my delight, I kept the tree alive and growing over the hot summer we had last year. When the weather started to turn in late fall, I moved the tree up next to the house where it sat until recently.

Over the long winter I researched new pots for transplanting the tree. Rather than purchase just any bonsai pot though, I decided to ask my friend at work if he could make one. I've mentioned Bob's work before as he's made just about all my plates and bowls (pictured). Lucky for me, he bought a kiln last fall and can now churn out the pottery any time I want he wants!

Just look at the wonderful pot he made for my tree! His work is seriously beautiful.

Alas, winter in Portland this year seemed to really hang on and we had multiple late February - early March snows, however, the weather did finally seem to turn the second weekend of March and I was more than ready to try my hand at re-potting my bonsai.

Armed with my book knowledge, I started by preparing my new pot, covering the bottom holes with some garden fabric I had already.

I then fed a couple 6-8 inch pieces of wire through the bottom small holes and through the fabric. Since the typical bonsai pot is rather shallow, the wire is used to tie the roots to the pot.

Now the fun part; I get to use my tiny tool set! After cutting around the edge of the pot the tree was in, I carefully lifted it out and used the tiny rake to gently untangle the roots.

It became more evident once the roots were untangled as to where to cut. In this case, I cut all the lanky, long straggler roots then rinsed the root ball.

I then placed the root ball in the pot around the wires. Aesthetically, it's important to place the tree slightly off-center in the pot. Next, I gently twisted the wires securing the tree to the pot.

Finally, I added soil to cover the tiny exposed roots and watered, waiting to fertilize until the growing season starts in earnest.

Some bonsai trees require very specific soil, in the case of the Chinese Elm, I was able to just use a basic bonsai soil mix.
I gave my tree a little trim to the branches and placed it back  against the house to protect it until the fear of frost is over, hopefully soon! Time will tell on whether this re-potting was successful, fingers are crossed!

**Update** I'm happy to report, my bonsai re-potting was successful!

It looks so nice in it's new pot.

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