Late last autumn, I bought this Bloodgood at HomeDepot. The plant has since been dug up, and I feel like repotting it to provide an extra boost for the coming growing season. With a more airy medium, I should be able to feed the plant more aggressively in comparison to the nursery medium.
Our first ingredient is diatomaceous earth. These are fossilized remains of marine shell creatures. These can be readily obtained from a local auto-parts shop as spill absorbent. A bag of these comes in various grains, so I sift away the finer particles and dusts. This is important, as the finer particles will block the drainage holes, making the medium less free flowing. Whenever there’s sitting water, there’s root rot.
The next ingredient to the mix is small rock pellets. I actually use High Performance Bedding (a.k.a. HPB) left from my stone patio project. This material will provide more air circulation for the roots to breath. Also, since stones don’t retain much water, it’ll keep the medium relatively drier.
The last and final ingredient is lava rock. To me, this is more of a novelty than anything. But since I got this big bag of lava rock from the club a few months ago, so I’ll dump some here as well. Also, it gives the medium a nice red color too.
Now the mix. I’m mixing the above materials in 2:1:1 ratio respectively.
I don’t plan to be displaying this pre-bonsai any time soon. My immediate concern is to make it grow vigorously, and then get my air layer to establish. So, I’ll be growing it in a plastic colander. The colander provides excellent airflow. Good airflow allows for strong healthy roots.
I’ve threaded the wires through the colander holes to ensure my tree is well tied down. Roots will have difficulty growing if it is not securely fastened into the soil.
Added a drainage layer comprised of only HPB and lava rock. The drainage layer ensures that the medium remains free draining.
To prepare the tree for planting, I removed it from the nursery pot, removing most of the old soil. I then proceed to trim the root ball such that it fits in the colander. I also trimmed away any unwanted roots, such as overlapping or running roots. When trimming roots, I ensure to remove a bit more roots situated right below the trunk. I formed a small mound of bonsai mix in the middle of the pot, then firmly pressed the tree down in position, while being careful not to damage the roots. After the tree is in place, the tie down wires are used to secure the tree in the pot. If the tree is wobbly in the pot, roots will not be able to develop. To tie the tree down, one wire is brought above the root ball towards the other wire, then using pliers lift and twist the two writes together. Continue until all four sides are secured.
Now simply fill in the colander with the bonsai mix, while using a wooden chopstick to ensure the soil reaches all spaces, and no air pocket exist. Finally, water the tree until the water runs clear. After care is to only water when required, and to provide the tree with full sun to support new root development.