Lots of interest and questions at SCBC Easter Show bonsai stand

IMG_4457 Phil at RAS

Phil in action at Royal Easter Show

Thanks to Vice-President Sue’s organisation and effort, the Sydney City Bonsai stand at the RAS was a great success. Each day SCBC club volunteers and some volunteers from the Bonsai Society of Australia ensured that members of the public showing an interest in bonsai could stop, look, have a chat and ask questions about the art of bonsai.

 Generally people were fascinated and impressed by the beauty and age of the trees. This year we had a bonsai “workshop” section and “jaws did drop” when Lee cut off a main branch of a tea tree (about 1/3 of the tree) demonstrating the importance of creating a plausible natural “story” in the bonsai styling process. We continued to be amazed by the questions people asked. Questions like: Do you have to water it?| Can you grow bonsai under water? Why do you do wire therapy? Do you have to water them all of the time? I was told you can revive a dead bonsai- Is that true? I thought bonsai, being small delicate plants should be kept indoors all of the time – Is that right? Bonsai clubs certainly do have a role to play in educating people about how to develop and care for bonsai trees.

2 Comments:

  1. I’m curious, Watching you reduce the root-ball looked very indiscriminate. I understand that root pruning should focus on removing the larger tap root and larger branch roots, while trying to preserve the young feeder roots. You in essence cut 2/3rds of the root ball with no real discretion. How is this tree? Did it survive?

    • Only fools root prune indiscriminately as that will usually end up with a dead tree but one can root prune certain species very heavily – which could look like a lack of discrimination – but in fact suits the species. Black pines would be root pruned lightly as they are sensitive trees. Trees that develop a lot of feeder roots like azaleas, privet, olives, elms, figs, trident maples can have their roots pruned very close without damaging the tree. In the ground a tree needs the larger roots to stabilise it but not so in a pot. It needs lots of feeder roots but reducing the existing feeder roots encourages the growth of new ones and that promotes the health of the tree.

      When root pruning it is imperative to know the species. Trident maples can take very severe root pruning when they are in dormancy in June/July but you could never reduce the root ball of a Japanese maple to the same degree without killing the tree.

      After care is also very important. It is recommended that newly root pruned trees are put in a semi shaded position for a couple of weeks to allow new roots to develop without stressing the tree’s feeding abilities. Trees are never fertilised after root pruning as the fertiliser could burn the new roots. It is always advised to wait 6 weeks before apply plant food and then only natural plant food, never chemical.

      I presume the person who was illustrating root pruning was a long term bonsai enthusiast and knew the species of tree being worked on. It is important to get more room and more fresh soil in a pot to allow the tree to grow and develop and stay healthy. I am more than sure that the tree that seemed to be too heavily root pruned is happily surviving and enjoying life.

      If this sort of thing happens again please feel free to approach the person demonstrating and ask about the severity of the root prune. Don’t hang back. The only way we can encourage good bonsai habits is to teach interested people as much as they are willing to learn and every question is important if it advances your knowledge. Thanks for taking the time to query this and I hope I have answered your question to your satisfaction.

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