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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Bob Pressler with Repotting

At our last club meeting Bob Pressler was our demonstrator with reviewing repotting skills. Many out there are already masters or rather skilled in repotting. But, its important to review basic skills once in awhile to make sure you aren't forming bad habits.

Bob did a quick review on tie-downs and drainage hole wiring on the first repot, which was going to be the Olive bonsai he got from the Bonsai-A-Thon in late February.

Bob uses a no non-sense flat pin type of drainage hole pins. Everybody is slightly different here. But, the objective is the same; make sure the inner diameter of the pins are just the width of hole itself.

Quick club shot!

Wire tie-downs; Bob like to have two wire setup with other side at offset lengths.

The offset wire lengths helps with making sure you do not tie the tree down in the center but off to either side or corner of the pot.

This tree potting history is unknown. So, Bob takes the safer route and slowly excavating the slowly reviling the roots.

Using a small metal chopstick. Bob, slowly probes for loose rock and soil while not disturbing the root mass as a whole as much as possible.

Seems the older soil is in a mix of akadama and scoria and was easily chipped away. Showing off the radial fine root system. Bob concludes that this tree was in fact a cutting from the extremely flat bottom and the carved deadwood down the middle.

Finally, he combs out any soil from directly underneath the center of the tree. Usually, that area never gets enough water or gets too much water if soil is not removed and changed out.

Bob, takes his time and adjusts the tree to find its new front.

After the front is found. Everything else needs to be in place to quickly get the tree back into the pot. There is not time to waste and you should have everything prepped ahead of time so you won't let your tree out to long of a time.

The Olive Bonsai is placed into the pot and worked down until the position is correct. The tie-down method is used with the two wires and additional tie-down wires are secured to the already placed wired. At the end of the process you will have a total of at least 4 tie-downs at the corner to make a basket like structure over the tree roots.

Lastly, Bob uses a small trowel to smooth out the surface of the soil and cut a neat edge around the lip of the pot to sure there will be little run off when water later.

Bob, repeated the exercise with a juniper from a nursery pot. But, there are slight differences in techniques.

He only full barely root only 1/2 of the root system. In this method we are being every serious to remove all nursery soil with bonsai soil in a two year cycle. This method helps alleviate stress from the root system with the whole bare rooting.

The rest of the process is the same. Roots trimmed and position to the new front.

Tie-down are used again like the Olive and soil is added. Bob, does uses a chopstick to fill in the voids in the root area of the tree.

The final product of the night. Thank you, Bob for sharing your knowledge of repotting. I did learn some new techniques that night. I hope to see you soon again.

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