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Help! Great nursery plant in heavy clay soil.

Posted by pdxgreg OR 8 (My Page) on
Sat, May 9, 09 at 16:17

Hi there.

I found a very nice-looking boxwood at the nursery I want to train as bonsai. It was in a five-gallon nursery pot, so is a pretty big specimen. It has a very thick trunk and lots of exposed nebari.

The problem is, it must have been field-grown (probably locally, here in the NW) as it is in very dense, heavy clay (I can't even use the word "soil").

Although it may be impossible, I am wondering how to remove enough of the clay, while saving enough of the roots to plant into a much more porous bonsai mix.

Today I took off a whole lot of the outer clay and managed to cut a really strong taproot. I just can't seem to be able to remove any more of the clay though. My intent was to put into a training pot and reduce the root mass even more next year--finally putting it into a bonsai pot.

How can I break up this clay, though? Is it impossible?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help! Great nursery plant in heavy clay soil.

When i buy a plant like you describe,i take my water hose and wash the root system down.. you have to use forse with the water till you get to the fine roots..most likely you will find damaged roots from digging the plant up,cut these clean pot up then let it rest...hope this helps john

RE: Help! Great nursery plant in heavy clay soil.

I get plants like that all the time at trades. I'm amazed at what other peoples soil looks like-ours is pure sand. A strong blast from the water hose will break up the clay. You'll get some root damage but the plant should recover with no problem.
Congrats on the new material.
Tally HO!

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