Satsuki Raft Revisit-

In 2017 we puzzled over an Azalea that had seen better days. The top had died, and two complete sides of the trunk were shari. What to do with it?

We cut the trunk in half, laying the nice looking half down in a flat. What had been branches rose as trunks, for a raft style.

The original root mass we retained to keep the Azalea going while new roots grew along the laid-down trunk. We packed sphagnum along it to encourage those roots. They would be our future nebari.

We had enough roots this year to put it in a pot. But first, a few images as a recap.

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Satsuki Azalea ‘Kinsai’ in 2017 with a dead top. There is shari from top to bottom—from this view the two sides of the trunk were alive, the wide swath facing the camera, all dead. The same on the other side.

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After sawing the tree in half.

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Laying one side down in a flat of pumice. Sphagnum was later packed around the edges of the trunk cut to stimulate roots.

5 years later, in 2022, this is how the azalea looks. For the last several years the original root mass was whittled back, a little each year. Closer to the new trunks the original trunk was cut into every year, each time deeper, in preparation for severing.

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Roots coming out of the laid-down trunk.

Cutting off the old root mass.

The half-round trunk visible on separation.

A front found by Mark during our repotting (thanks Mark!) We went with this one. Great view of all trunks. A solid wad of roots held it all together.

In its first pot. The flow feels to the right, so when the roots become more confident we’ll cut back the laid-down trunk, and skootch it over to the left. We left the branches long to prune back another day. Likely in early July, if growth is strong.

February 2022 Bulletin Board

  • Have May 7 and 8 free? Join us for the Spring Seasonal-lite, our online course for all your species-specific, fertilizing, design, pests (gasp!) and other mid-season bonsai questions. We’ll meet for two mornings, with 6 hours total in-person instruction and a 30-minute private with me. For sign-up send an email to crataegusbonsai@gmail.com. Watch our wonky course trailer:

3 Comments

  1. Brian VF says:

    Graceful lines, very natural meadow like appearance!

  2. smcstl says:

    Can this be done with a trident maple?

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