Tips for Repotting-
Many of you are deep in the thicket of repotting, which I know can be one of those puzzling puzzles. This is just a short post on what I think are some of the big ones to not forget:
1. Don’t have your tree TOO dry before repotting. Although a bit easier for us, we would have a dehydrated tree just before cutting off many of its feeder roots—which ends up as a lose-lose bargain. Better to have it too wet than too dry.
2. As a general rule, don’t bare-root your trees. That’s for specialists doing special work and try your best to ignore the Japanese magazines showing someone boldly bare-rooting a 100 year old pine, or some silly blog like Crataegus Bonsai showing hosing of a deciduous tree. Bare-rooting probably kills more things than all others combined, so without the attending techniques, I would say don’t do it unless you’ve been taught how to, and which ones it’s ok to bare-root and which ones you should never do that way. Bare rooting is extreme, for extreme circumstances.
3. Sing while you work. Or at least put on some calming music, as repotting tense does not help us or the trees. (Singing is the primary job of apprentices, by the way. Evenings are usually taken up by long singing lessons, as to not dishearten anyone overly with poor vocals.)
4. Don’t refer to your repotting log to determine when the tree was repotted last and when next it should be repotted; refer to the tree. If a sharp chopstick won’t enter the soil easily in several places, it probably needs repotting. A weak tree for whatever reason might take three times as long to fill a pot with roots as a heathy strong one. Time is irrelevant.
5. Don’t cut too much root off a young tree or you can stall it’s momentum. And when repotting young trees in general, don’t cut the top much the year you repot.
6. Bamboo is your best friend. Drive shafts into very firm root balls for anchoring wires, or for bracing trees with really bad root systems. Get timber bamboo with walls about 1/3″ thick, and split it. You can see how bamboo is used in several places on this blog.
7. Have a REASON for repotting. If you’re just going through the motions because it’s what you always do at this time of year, well, rethink that one. Assess each tree and its needs. If you don’t know how to answer that, then find a teacher. No Star Trekking through your tree’s root systems, bolding going where no one has gone before…without a clue. Get clueified. Really. Repotting is like open heart surgery; we’re dealing with a tree’s life here.