chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Bonsai Blunder…

Posted by Jason on December 10, 2008

Wifey let me purchase a real nice pre-bonsai juniper at City Farmers Nursery, and I’ve been seeking opinions on it and doing a little work. Mostly I’ve been doing a lot of planning. The soil from the nursery wasn’t that great. In fact it was pretty much hard as a rock. So I decided that I would repot my new big juniper and get it in some better soil, in addition to changing the potting angle to make it a cascade style. Basically I wanted to turn the tree on its side so that it would look like it was growing downward off the side of a cliff or what have you. 

I went to Home Depot and bought a couple bags of what I thought was normal soil, with no additives. I spent a couple hours teasing the old soil out of the root ball and repotting my plant. I secured it in place. I tamped all of the soil in so that there were no air pockets under the root ball. I soaked it in a tub of water for a while, just like we’ve done in several beginning bonsai classes. I did everything right.

My hands smelled like soil, but it was all good, and I accomplished everything just before dinner. The next afternoon, I went out to check on my trees and notice an awful smell (worse than the previous afternoon) and a dark brown ooze seeping from the bottom of my freshly repotted baby. I felt the soil, and the top felt dry and spongy. Weird. I decided to water it a little bit, but the water just pooled on the top of the soil and took FOREVER to percolate through. 

“This is totally messed up,” I thought. And I went to check the bag of soil, reading the fine print. “DO NOT PLANT SEEDS DIRECTLY INTO SOIL.” “YOU MUST MIX SOIL WITH YOUR GARDEN SOIL FIRST.”

So basically I had just planted my pre-bonsai tree in mostly manure/fertilizer and a little bit of soil. I hope I didn’t burn the roots and otherwise kill the damn thing. I made an emergency run to Home Depot and bought some “POTTING SOIL” with no additives or anything nasty. Seriously, I didn’t think it would be so hard to find soil without fertilizer or other crap (literally) in it. We’re all so damn lazy and I paid the price. I’m too lazy to read a label well enough. I repeated the entire potting process, and now I just hope all the giant fertilizer/manure runoff won’t kill my native plants in other parts of the garden…

Here is the big juniper, imagine it on its left side… Let’s hope he survives!

Let's hope he lives!

Before Potting Angle Change


2 Responses to “Bonsai Blunder…”

  1. TEN said

    hi, subscribed to your feed. i hope it survives and would love to see some pics of the cascade after first styling!

  2. Jason said

    TEN thanks for checking in! I’m going to wait until spring, but I’m thinking of doing some deadwood experimentation on the right and center “trunks,” and keeping the left as the only one with foliage. We’ll see what happens!

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