This is something that goes against what I’ve heard since I started doing Bonsai but with Pavel Slovak being my teacher and being the pine master he is, I took his word and went for it. The basic advice is always to re-pot everything the spring as nutrients begin the flow from the roots back up into the branches and buds of that season’s upcoming growth. In regards to evergreen species, photosynthesis is actually happening all year.
We are however, focusing on pines right now, which with Mr. Slovak’s experience, have proved best to be re-potted just after summer dormancy. This is the period when the new growth for this year has fully finished extending, next year’s buds have set and the tree is now focused on vascular repair and growth. That means, pines are the most resilient to having their roots disturbed because they are able to quickly regenerate them at this time. How do we know our Pines are ready? The tip of next year’s bud must be mature looking and that is a great sign the tree is ready. The time of year when you can do this cvaries, for example this year we are actually about a month late according to Mr. Slovak’s experience.
Here you can see that next years buds are now mature and set for next year which is a great sign that the tree is no longer focused on expanding it’s photosynthetic surface area or expanding in growth.
Normally a pot like this would be too much of a jump from training pot to next, but the root mass from the former plastic terracotta pot was actually not very far off size-wise to this one. Another great idea to introduce even more drainage and oxygen to the roots is to get out yer drill bits and bore many new holes into pots like these. I forgot to document that part, but I made 4 new holes slightly smaller from the middle one into the corners of this pot and I believe that this will help the root system very much.
This Scots Pine is still very far from looking good but I have allowed it to grow freely for the past 2 years with lots of fertilizing and long needles. I believe that next year from some of the candle cutting I’ve done this year, this tree should have shorter needles and also a lot of back budding that I can cut back to. This will make a huge difference in overall aesthetics, but we cannot be concerned about looks at all in the first 3-4 years and health is what it’s all about. I also placed a layer of sphagnum moss on the top to help keep the substrate moist and also encourage moss growth. Moss growth not only helps keep the soil moist but helps keep the pH in check as well.
2 more pines will be re-potted soon and I will report.