Peter Tea’s Feburary Write-Up
February 2014

For most in California, February is a good time to start repotting. For those living in areas where the night doesn’t freeze, re-potting could have been started as early as December. If you’re in an area that still freezes at night, then hold off the repotting till it gets warmer. A good indication to start is when the night time low is above freezing.

Why Re-pot?

Seems like a easy question right? I hear lots of different answers from people. It sounds like an easy question, but many don’t fully understand the reasons other than, “that’s
what we’re suppose to do now… right?”

So lets talk about the reasons for repotting.  The big main reason we repot is to manipulate how the tree grows. Simple right?  But what does that mean?  Here are some reasons as to why I would repot a tree:

1. The tree is in a mix that is too wet
2. The tree is in a mix that is too dry
3. The tree is so root bound that the health of the tree starts to decline
4. To slow the growth of a tree (trees that are too strong)
5. To accelerate the growth of a tree (trees that are weak)
6. To develop the root spread and root system
7. To get the tree into a mix that is manageable by the owner
8. To change the planting angle of the tree

Soil mixes can be very complex and there are different variables that will cause us to repot or not repot this year.  During this month at the study group, we will continue to discuss these variables to help us better understand the importance of soil and how it affects the tree’s growth.

“So why so complex?  I’ve repotted before and the trees seem to do fine.”   Many people I have taught will say this to me. That or I can see it in their gaze when I talk about soils.  If you’re asking yourself that, here’s the answer.!Keeping a tree alive after repotting should be a give in. Especially if we don’t cut many of the roots.  Sometimes we can cut almost all of the roots off and the tree will still stay alive and grow.  The key is figuring out if the repotting actually helped make our trees better.

Did we continue the development of roots?
Did we get the tree in the ideal position?
Is the tree firmly tied to the pot?
Is the soil mix we’re using going to cause the tree to grow too fast or too slow?
Is there enough or too much room for the roots to grow?
Is this an appropriate pot for the tree?

These are some of the questions we should be asking ourselves when repotting.  Once we start asking, then the answer becomes much more complex.

January 2014 Write-up.

Please re-read last months write-up because it still pertains to the work we do this month. If you plan on repotting, be sure to have your soil ready and mixed to save yourself some time.

Styling Conifers and Broad Leaf Evergreens

Styling conifers and broad leaf evergreens is something else we can do this month if you’re already finished repotting your trees. Be sure that the tree you’re planning on styling wasn’t recently repotted. The tree should be firmly held in the pot and not move.

When learning to style a tree, there are a couple of prerequisites to have.

1. Healthy tree.
2. Ability to properly apply aluminum and copper wire onto the tree.

Once we understand these two concepts, we can then focus on how to cut, how to bend and style a tree. Not having these two prerequisite will make it difficult to successfully develop a nice looking Bonsai.


I understand that wiring isn’t something that everyone likes to do. It can be tricky, confusing and frustrating to learn. It was tough for me to learn how to do it when I first started in Bonsai (almost spontaneously combusted) but with practice and patience, it came to me and now it’s much easier.

For those in the workshops that are not very good at wiring, I hope we can spend this year working together and getting better at it. You will be amazed at how much better your trees will look when the wiring applied works for you instead of against you.

Remembering these few tips will go a long way:

1. Apply the wire in a 40 degree spiral.
2. If using copper, the copper size should be a third the size of the branch being bent.
3. If using aluminum, the wire should be as thick as the branch being bent..
4. Always try to tie two branches together with one wire!
5. The pain will be over soon.

During the workshop, we will talk more in detailed about different wiring techniques.!\

The Workshop.

In the workshop I encourage members to ask questions about repotting (or anything else for that matter). There are no, “dumb,” questions. There have been many occasions where the answers are not as expected. Sometimes the answer is quick and simple and sometimes the answer can completely changes ones approach to bonsai (happens more than you think).

Keep an open mind, be ready to discuss and share your thoughts and lets continue to learn more together.

Remember, it’s all about have fun learning more and creating better and better trees.  The year is still just starting but will end before we know it. I’m excited to work with you all and to see you progress!!
See you all soon!

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