“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” ― Galileo Galilei
So Bob Pressler came to Kofu Kai this month to help us find repotting expertise within ourselves. Bob is the proprietor of Kimura Bonsai Nursery in Northridge, California, and he often speaks and does demos for clubs and shows all over California. He did a pretty good job, very quickly repotting a procumbens nana juniper as well as a small California juniper, explaining each step and answering questions as he went.
Along with the basics (which Bob recently covered in his blog post "Repotting from A to Z"), here are some of the nuggets of wisdom he passed along:
- Bob doesn't have a set schedule on how often to repot. He looks for a lack of vigor (e.g., a small number of new buds) or signs of poor drainage (e.g., water pouring off the pot instead of soaking into the soil);
- He always ties his trees into the pots. Always. He finds this particularly beneficial when Northridge is hit by massive earthquakes [that was more timely advice than any of us knew at the time];
- Even though he sifts his soil when he mixes it, he screens it again as he is getting ready to place it in the pot, to take yet another crack at removing fines;
- He doesn't baby his trees after repotting. If they were in full sun before, he'll put them back into full sun right away. He does try to protect them from Santa Ana winds, however, and he may use Cloud Cover or some other anti-transpirant for that purpose;
- He uses organic fertilizers (whatever is cheapest) and because of this he doesn't worry about how long to wait before fertilizing. If the plant isn't able to use the fertilizer, it just won't use it, but he will fertilize a newly repotted tree when he is doing the fertilizing of the trees in that area, even if the tree was just repotted a week ago;
- He always tamps down the soil around the lip to keep it from washing over the edge when he waters after repotting (as well as to protect the upper roots);
- He uses totally non-organic soil mixes, except for mixing in some redwood with his soil for deciduous trees.
Bob donated the procumbens nana to the club's raffle, and quite a few tickets were sold to eager would-be winners. I don't recall who won, but it wasn't me.