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Transplanting Bonsai - Looking for the Happy Zone


Here’s what our friend Michael Hagedorn has to say about this lovely Japanese maple: “This maple in Shinji Suzuki’s tokonoma is in a pot typical of this kind of tree. It works better aesthetically, in two ways. A shallow pot will make the nebari continue spreading, and the delicacy of the trunks is enhanced by a shallower pot. But a maple is also a tree that appreciates water. And a shallow pot will retain more moisture than a deeper one, in a soil-to-soil relative way. It’s a wetter pot.” All the photos in this post are from Crataegus Bonsai


It's warming early here in Vermont. Not warm enough for digging, transplanting and potting yet (we've still got about six weeks), but just a little reminder. A good time to take inventory of pots, soil, bonsai wire and the various bonsai tools you might need for the occasion. 

Another part of preparation is reviewing what the pros say about transplanting. A good place to start is with an article by Michael Hagedorn about pot depth for various type trees. You don’t see much about pot depth, but it turns out to be critical when it comes to plant health. The reference to Happy Zone in the title is about finding the right depth pot for the type tree your are transplanting.

By the way, Michael is a real bonsai pro and a very good writer and his article bears this out as do Michael's two books, Post-Dated and Bonsai Heresy (Bonsai Heresy is due in early May but you can order yours now and save 5.00)  I won’t say much more except to quote just a bit from Michael and encourage you to visit Crataegus Bonsai.

“Many trees like their roots far away from anything saturated, which is the bottom of the pot. Two in particular, pines and azaleas. And in muddling about the Western bonsai world I’ve been haunted by the number of pines planted in very shallow containers.“ 


 This White pine is ready for Shinji Suzuki’s inspection and then Kokufu (Suzuki was Michael’s teacher, lord and ruler during his apprenticeship in Japan). This photo is from the previous Crataegus post titled Kokufu, Matt Reel, Snow. Notice that the pot is suitably deep for a pine.



Michael remembering his apprentice days.
You can certainly plant your pine in a shallow pot
(loud thwack of a chopstick on my fingers), but consider mounding it.


Michael's much anticipated second book
order yours now


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