First nursery stock: Pieris Japonica Variegata

kylezoMay 11, 2007

Hello everyone.

I purchased my first plant intended for bonsai from a local nursery yesterday. It is my first nursery plant and I am not sure what to do next. I have taken off SOME branches from the underbelly to help expose the tree's shape better but nothing major - not to mention 4 inches of dirt and plastic pot to expose some nice movement and nebari.

Can anyone guide me with some suggestions? This poor plant is very rootbound - by the time I got the 4 inches of dirt off the top I was left with a sdense mass of feeder roots. I am not sure whether I will put it in a bonsai pot yet.

I haven't even lifted it out of the pot to check out the roots - I figure if I am going to repot it I am also going to cut back the roots and the foliage instead of just moving it to another big pot - might just as well leave it where it is.

Here are the pictures:

trunk movement:

branching structure:


Thank you everyone!

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Hi, very nice starter! Pieris make good bonsai too. Don't cut any more from underneath though, because it's the lower branches (often called sacrifices for this reason) that help fatten the trunk, and once you've grown out and trained your tree over time (years often) to a more or less final design, you can always cut them (or even just one you've left) off then if they don't fit in. I suggest that you put it straight into the ground for the season now, and then in November move it into a large but somewhat shallower pot til the spring. When you do move it (I say Nov. because hopefully it should be dormant by then, but maybe Dec.'s better where you are) try to break up the bottom third of the rootball some to spread it out, and put a tile or slate under it so it will no longer grow downward, but out. Next (early) spring, cut off old hardened and probably circling roots, spread the remaining (half?) of the ball some more and then let it continue to grow in the same pot (replace lost soil with a gritty, non-peaty mix to which you could add some bark mulch). If you want to take off individual branches to open it out a bit, get an idea where you want to go with design, do it late next winter, shortly before root pruning.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:00PM
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I also think that by the third year you can move it into a bonsai pot if a nice pad of young feeder roots has develop under the trunk, and of course along the way you can also (late spring is good) trim twiggy foliage to help get some shape into it.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:04PM
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Lucy, I recieved a suggestion similar to yours in another forum. He suggested that I slip-pot it into a larger pot and let it grow wild till winter, then aggressively root prune it and plant it in the ground or a training pot with a tile to create some nebari, and then move it to a bonsai pot the next winter, or at least begin styling.

It's looking like a pretty open and shut case so far! Any other ideas or suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 11:37PM
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Yes - relax and let it grow at whatever pace it chooses. Get some more trees to fuss with, but keep it to a dull roar as you can fuss them too much. Been there, done that and payed for it.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 5:42PM
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