Monday, May 17, 2010

repotting of a famous Rocky Mountain Juniper

Six days ago I realized that I had to do something with my famous Rocky Mountain Juniper. It leaned more to the right a bit every time I took a photograph. Over the years this was just too much leaning. And it was a wiggling in the pot. While it was not absolutely necessary horticulturally (!!!) after sixteen years I repotted it. I fixed it in the pot with very strong wire and set it a bit more to the right and more upright of course. I did this carefully as it will stay in the pot for at least thirty years now. I took off the old debris that still was there from the mountains of Wyoming when it was collected about 1988. Sixteen years ago I did not yet know enough about substrate and had a bit too much fine particles in it. Well, it was a risk as I found a lot of very old and very dead roots and not as many healthy ones as I had hoped. This is normal for this kind of tree but it scares me every time. Coming home from a trip now six days later I notice a lot of very healthy new growth. This is very good news. The fine foliage tips show me that in parallel the roots develop lots of fine new tips. I fed the juniper right away with a hand full of chicken dirt. Just in case you think that your bonsai books tell you very different you should know that I have read them many more times than you in the past thirty years and I know what I am doing.
And I added a piece of deadwood from another juniper. Well, I can easily take it away again if I happen to not like it in the future.


Sebastijan Sandev said...

Walter, this looks great!!! What a new power in the appearence. As the tree was leaning more and more to the side, it looked tired a bit!
Now it entered a new youth!

Sebastijan Sandev said...

You say sixteen years!!! Or even thirty years now? But, you know, the more I'm thinking about that, it makes more sense. Well, who repots these old trees in nature when they grow in rock crevice for 500 years??? Nobody, of course. And the resource of nutrients is much more thinner than when they live in pots! Or have I missed something?

Stavros said...

Great tree, thanks for sharing the pictures :)
I just wanted to ask, when do you remove the "dirt" from collected trees (conifers) and replace it with your substrate? Do you do it immediately on potting or wait for the tree to establish itself?

Walter Pall said...


this is a very tricky one. I would love to remove the original soil and dirt from the habitat immediately. But then I hate to bare root such trees. They tend to die on it. So we now take the root ball as is and stuff it into the smallest possible container, box or plastic tub. Then we stuff modern substrate, like pumice or baked loam pure around it. When the tree looks happy a year of two years later in spring we take it out of the container, remove most or almost all of the original soil and put it into the same or a better container. Sometimes we put it right into the final pot. Then we apply modern substrate. And then we try to avoid repotting as far as possible after that. This goes to actually 30 years or even more. But this only applies to very slow growing very old collected conifers with not many roots to speak of.
Deciduous trees, also collected ones you have to repot much more often. But I still try to avoid repotting as far as I dare. It is a risk every time and it throws the development back for one or two years.
I should have taken off the old dirt from this juniper much earlier. But we have developed the apparently good procedure only about three to four years ago.

Decuidusn collected tree

zopf said...

Hallo Walter
Grössere Umtopfintervalle werden wohl nur möglich sein,
wenn die Schalen den Anforderungen an Deine moderne
Kultivierungstechnik angepasst werden.
Die Ansammlung von Wurzelgeflecht am Schalenrand
und vor allem am Schalenboden bei gleichzeitiger
Wenignutzung des inneren Schalenbereichs ist kontraproduktiv.
Eine provisorische Verbesserung dürfte durch eine Lochrasterplatte
die mit Abstand zum Schalenboden in die Schale eingesetzt wird
zu erreichen sein.
mfG Dieter

Ryan said...

I love this tree! I was just wondering how your Rocky Mountain Juniper is doing now(4 months later). Could you post some recent pictures?