Welcome to Ma-ke bonsai. This is Mark D’Cruz and today I’m going to talk to you about repotting Japanese maples. The Japanese maple has a very short duration in which you can repot it, and that’s got to do with the leaf buds starting to swell. In this stage, I decided to repot the tree. When it reaches this stage, the buds have swollen quite a bit and the leaves are just beginning to unfurl. It’s most probably already on the late side to repot. So, remember that when you’re going to repot, it’s got to do with how the tree is rather than the time of the year. It doesn’t matter whether it’s February, March April. If the buds have begun to move as we like to say in the bonsai world, then it’s a good time to repot.
You may get between 15 to maybe 45 days in which you can repot the tree, provided you spot the moment in the tree earlier. I would wait just a bit longer until the leaves have fallen between there and there to start repotting. Ok, now that we have finalized when we’re going to repot, this is the tree that we’re going to repot today. It’s a little Japanese maple. The soil has become quite compacted. The roots are beginning to get affected and the growth of the bud that should have progressed quite a lot has not become as much as it should be. So, to get the root ball out of the pot, we will start by using the sickle. It’s got a serrated edge on one side. It helps with cutting it out of the pot.
You need to apply a little bit of force to actually cut through the Akadama and the pumice and roots that are in there. Be careful that it doesn’t slip and you cut yourself. So, you may need to start to go around a few times before you are able cut through… So, remember, there is a wire running, so cut out any binding wires underneath. Use a wooden chopstick to help with dislodging it so work your way around the pot gently tweezing it out of the pot. You get it out of the pot. And there you are. We have a lot of roots growing round and round that need to be cut. Ok. The next stage is to make sure that before we start repotting that we clean out the bonsai pot. In this particular case, I’m not going to be using this bonsai pot. I’m going to be using a smaller one. The point of using a smaller pot like this is that it will make the tree look much bigger. I’m going to use this little Chinese yellow pot for repotting the tree. It’s got a nice pattern around the side which will look quite nice on the pot.
Ok so, I’m going to use some mesh to cover up the holes on the bottom. There we are. The pot is wired up, nice and ready. Put it aside for the time being and then we carry on with now working on the Japanese Maple. Ok, we start off by tweezing off any weeds that may be in the soil. I’m using tweezers… and I work on this little wooden block because it helps me keep my root ball intact. If I hold it in my hand, there’s a danger that the end of the root ball would break and that’s a no-no as far as I’m concerned because the idea is to repot with as less stress to the tree as possible. So, by keeping the root ball intact, that ensures a minimum stress in the tree. Now the idea is for me to remove a half centimeter, three-quarter centimeter of soil from the top so that I can replace it with fresh soil. I will work from the sides into the nebari.
So, I use a pair of heavy duty shears to help me with my root pruning. You must dislodge all the soil from the root ball before you cut the roots. Once you’ve dislodged the soil and the pumice from there, you can then cut the roots back to the new surface on the root ball. But it’s essential that you first tweeze away the soil on the ? that just affects the tip of the blade. It blunts it. So, I work my way around the tree. I clean the nebari from any moss or anything on it and get rid of any roots that are higher up. Cut them off. And that’s the roots that are crossing from one end to the other end. They’re not radiating outwards. All roots should radiate outwards. So just get rid of that. And that gets a much tidier nebari base. Before I reduce the root ball any further of the width of…, I need to measure out the sides of the new pot. The old pot was quite a bit bigger than the new pot. So, I am going to measure the new pot size. I have 13 centimetres length by 9 centimetres.
I’ll leave one centimeter all around for the fresh soil, so that will leave me… 13-2 = 11 centimetres, so 5.5 centimetres on each side. So, the new root ball… So, I’ll work away around the edges as I described before. Remove all the soil and the roots that are exposed on the nebari. Now, measure 5.5 centimetres from the side. So, the width of the pot is 9 centimeters, which means 7 centimetres, 3.5 on each side. So, start on the side that’s closest to you, remove to the mark that you made, and carry on. So, there’s 3.5 on the other side. So there we are. It’s now fitting in nicely into the pot and there’s one centimeter all around Ok, now that we’ve got our pot all sorted and the root ball done and fitting in properly into the bowl, we start by layering a thin layer of soil on the bottom of the pot.
We build a little mound in the centre which will help us arrange the tree. If you want to know the composition of the soil that I am using, look up one of my videos on bonsai soil and it will give you a full explanation of the types of soils that we use and for the species that we use. Ok, so now we need to ensure that the tree is lined up in the centre. It is lined up in the center down the side and that the nebari is just above. This is slightly below where I want it to be. So I’m going to raise it a tad by building the mound underneath and there we go. I think that’s kind of right. So, it’s centered, centred down the side, the trunk is vertical and the nebari is just above. So now, I will fill up the thing with the rest of the soil.
One of the things I use for managing my soil in the pot is I use a rubber mallet. A rubber mallet has been well-used, boiled in water to make it a little bit soft. Here we go. By tapping rapidly, the soil settles in all the crevices and spaces that are there. So, eventually, all areas underneath the root ball, if there are any… And you can see that the soil is disappearing underneath. That means there are some crevices that still need to be filled up. So top up quickly. Give it another tap or two. And now that I’ve settled it up, I will bind the example. The wire, from the long side toward the starboard side, making sure that we make contact with the root ball and then I tighten it with my hand, as much as I can. Do the same with the other side, making sure that I’m not touching the nebari. So, while turning it in, I pull so that there’s a gap that appears underneath the wire and then I tighten it up again so that any gap that appears is closed up by twisting it.
Pull, close any gap by twisting. Then cut off, leaving just one or two curls on the wire. Now the other side. And then I just put some more soil until I get a nice gradual slope in the pot. I’ll use the spatula, it’s rather a unique design of spatula. It helps to make sure that the soil is put in well and I can maintain a little slope. There we go. So now we’ve repotted it and put the symmetry in the right place, I’m going to water it and then we can moss it up. So there we are. There’s the basin of water and I’m going to give it a dunking which is just below…. So, the water feeds in from underneath. You can see it’s starting to come in quite rapidly from underneath. So…. let it run for a second or two. Ok, so now that I’ve watered the tree, I’m going to place moss on it.
I use golden sphagnum moss. The moss helps to keep the soil from drying up too quickly. It retains moisture at the top level to the soil…. And also provides an area where the roots can grow, all the way to the surface. If you don’t put a moss layer on top, then because the soil continuously keeps drying out in between watering, you lose the roots at the surface, but it’s the moss that dries out rather than the soil. So, when you water again or after the moss has dried up, the roots are always in the top, all the way up to the top surface of the soil to just below the moss.
I put the moss over the edges and I’ve squished it into the sides so that its sits underneath the lip of the pot so that when the soil dries or the moss dries in the sun and they try to lift, the lip contains it from lifting, so the edges of the pot don’t curl. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to use your hand to firm the soil and the moss together. The last step is, I’m going to apply some green moss. This moss is collected from India and you use it to sprinkle on the sphagnum moss. And in a couple of months, the sphagnum moss will support the green moss as it grows on it. And within a few months more, the green moss will eat away the sphagnum moss and connect to the soil and grow. And it gives the tree a finished look and also, it helps protect the surface roots and so it’s a win-win situation, and from that, I think it’s quite essential in the repotting process.
And that basically is how we repot a Japanese Maple. Remember, the key point when repotting a Japanese Maple is to look for the bud swelling and if the buds have extended too much, then perhaps it’s better to wait till next year to repot. And that’s it. That’s one Japanese Maple bonsai tree repotted. Thanks for watching and if you did like the video, give me a thumbs at the bottom. And do subscribe if you haven’t already subscribed. Look out for my other videos and we hope to see you again soon. Thank you for watching. Bye. . bamboo sheets