Lock Your Trees Down!

This is less a security headline than a technical reminder…

…trees can loosen in their pots. Wires can slacken…bracing can slip…and then they can wave around in the wind. Or fall over.


Why should we worry about a bit of wiggle?

Because those movements can really weaken trees, adding to the stresses that they are often under, and can even kill trees if the movement is significant enough.

For a tree growing naturally, roots are what lock it into the earth. We tend to think of roots as translocation devices, moving fluids around, and that’s true, but their other function is stability. If they don’t have stability, we need to give it that by substituting root stability for wire stability. Imagine the tree and pot being one unit.

It’s not a bad idea to give your trees a wiggle now and then, just to check. Especially after a show, check that the tree is well-attached to its container. Any loose tree should be put on the workbench to re-establish that secure and ‘It’s one unit’ feeling to the bonsai.


  1. mcrosacci says:

    excellent advice, thank you – for all your posts!

  2. Mac McAtee says:

    Excellent advice. I would add that this time of year the squirrels are looking for places to bury nuts. In my area they are fond of bonsai pots. If a tree isn’t securely tied into the pot, when they dig they can dump the tree out. I you don’t catch it quickly you can loose the tree from the roots drying out. If the tree is secure in the pot the worst you loose is the amount of potting medium that it removes to bury the nut. Most of the roots will remain protected. I have also found when I use fish and animal based fertilizers squirrels will also dig in the pots to try and find what the stink is about.

    • Guy Vitale says:

      Find a processed/pelletized hen manure, apparently the squirrels don’t like the smell at all. I had a terrible problem with squirrels digging into my pots, I’ve used a product called ActiSol (available in Canada) for 3 seasons now and they hardly look at my pots now. When I find evidence of digging, I put a bit more pellets down and no more digging.

  3. Classic Hagedorn…;-)

  4. phlkrg says:

    When you say, “Lock your trees down” I thought you meant literally. I’ve just had 4 trees stolen including my best which was at the National Exhibition so I’ve been looking for ways to lock them down…suggestions would be appreciated.

    Phil Sent from my IPhone


    • crataegus says:

      Great question. Out of sight out of mind is the best policy. Beyond that there are lots of security measures that involve making physical entry difficult to noise creation to data collection.

  5. JoAnn Ferguson says:

    During recent rain and wind, one small tree came out of it’s pot and ended up in a rhododendron bush. Needless to say, it is now wired into a heavier pot.

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