Japanese White Pine Re-pot (Chapter 1).

This then the penultimate in the series. I will be including a Scots Pine shortly. Both JWP and Scots have been heavily requested so without a further explanation I will get on with this one … a small Japanese White Pine (JWP).

Re-potting times do vary for the JWP, and on occasions I will wait until mid to late Spring. It is vital not to go too early with Pines; there are exceptions of course but this is greatly dependent on the level of post-potterative care you can provide.

As this one will be sheltered for the next few weeks I am happy to move to re-potting as candles show, but more importantly , that needles can be clearly seen within the candle.

The first images are of the new candle growth. The needles can be clearly seen.

Here is the tree in current pot. It is right and suits the JWP but is now too small. One important factor for JWP is depth of pot. JWP’s to benefit from depth of soil.

This particular tree has been in this pot for two years longer than it should have been. Root growth of JWP is not the same as conifers for instance; you will not find thick cream colour roots wrapped around and around the pot edges. The feeder roots of this species are much-much smaller.

Removal from pot is by standard methods, blade close to the inner edge, run all the way round, remove any securing wire then use a flat blade inserted down the side and lever upwards. I’ll say again; DO NOT just grab the trunk, pull and push and hope for the best! This is not how to release a tree from a pot!

The tree came free very easily. I purposely keep JWP’s on the dry side for ten days prior to re-potting. It makes the entire process simpler; both in terms of kindness to the tree and mess.

With the tree out I looked around the root-ball. I was hoping to see lots of white patches; which is mycorrhizal fungi. The symbiotic relationship between tree and fungi must not be over looked under any circumstances.

Mycorrhizae are much specialised organisms in the Order Glomales, which are found in close association with approximately 95% of all plants. (The name mycorrhiza comes from the ancient Greek for fungus and root.)

It is a symbiotic relationship where both organisms derive benefit – the fungus is not capable of photosynthesis, or to fix its own carbon, so it takes some of the carbohydrates, which the plant passes down to its roots. In exchange the plant receives essential nutrients and water from the fungus which has an extensive mycelium structure that reaches out further than the plant roots; it therefore forms a secondary root system.

They also assist the plant to withstand the stress of drought and prevent some of the soil-borne pathogens such as Phytophthora and Armillaria from entering the root system.

I was not to be disappointed. here is what I found.

It the last of these three images you can clearly see how dry I have been keeping this Pine. It does so make thinks much simpler. the soil just tends to fall away.

And finally I find the old securing wires. These I always release from the pot base after six months or so (depends on species). I do not however attempt to find the buried wire and remove. I wait until the next re-pot.

Here the soil that just falls away can be seen in my hand. Simply tipping my hand shows by keeping it on the dry side how little mess is left behind.

Using my trusty stainless steel ‘chop-stick I continue to probe gently away at the top and sides.

This is the perfect time to clean up any green algae and moss etc on the base of the tree.

Starting to look much better. Rather than just brush from side to side, brush from the trunk to the outer edge of the root-ball if you possibly can. Yes it takes longer to do but you benefit by combing surface roots at the same time.

I will over time thicken the base of the trunk up some. One area has a ‘wasp-waist’ in part.

With the surface roots inspected I am satisfied that no major crossing roots or decayed areas require removal. I have trimmed the sides by about 20%, no more. This is quite enough. JWP’s resent having too much of the fine feeder network removed in one go. You can if you wish work in sections and restrict removal to wedges; this then ensures sufficient roots remain to reactivate the new growth and continue to maintain the health of the tree.

Make notes what sections you do, then alternate during the next re-pot; which need not be left any longer than two years; re-potting again during the second year.

It was now time to work the base. I have found over nearly thirty years that Pines always put growth down below and have never found growth-shape on the tree affected by this in any way whatsoever.

The dead and decayed areas can be clearly seen here.

And after much tracing and removal of dead roots. All that remains now is some further trimming to the edges and I am done.

It is important to re-use some of the soil that has been removed. This is basically to reintroduce the beneficial fungi. I use a combination of sieve and hands.

As a JWP mix is such a gritty one it is a comparatively easy task to undertake.

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