For those who have never really gardened before, congratulations on challenging yourself with a Bonsai! If you’ve made it this far, you probably have a lush, well watered and healthy tree that’s been given plenty of sunlight. At this point you’re probably noticing that the roots of your tree are looking a little cramped. It’s time to repot, but this isn’t as easy to do with a tree as it is with your average herb garden.
One thing to avoid is repotting while your plant is in a progressive growth phase. Bonsai trees usually slow down in growth toward the winter time. Replanting anything can be a stressful process, but a Bonsai has much larger roots than the average mint bush. Pruning the roots and moving to a new pot is much easier when the tree is dormant. Most Bonsai’s need to be replanted at least once a year depending on how quickly yours is growing.
As your plant grows, it starts to “eat” the soil and the roots take up the space where dirt used to be. So in addition to pruning the older, smaller roots, you’ll also have to provide the larger and healthier ones with newer soil and a better Ph balance. A bigger pot is not necessarily required, but it does help to give newer roots more space. In the end, it’s up to you to decide how big or small you want your Bonsai to be.
Giving your Bonsai a new home is definitely something you want to do while your outdoors, it can get messy. Keep to the shade, and use a hose with a shower nozzle so you can keep the roots moist as you work. Do your best to dig dirt away from them, and then wiggle the roots out gently. The ones you’ll want to keep have smaller, thin white offset roots branching from the main vein.
Start with a layer of gravel, rock, and rough types of sediment for the very bottom. Then place a very light layer of dirt right above the rocky sediment to keep the roots from overheating in the sunlight. Bonsai trees with roots that are set to one side shouldn’t be placed directly in the middle. Once you’ve got the soil to an even level, press down gently around it; heavily soak the soil in water and give it extra where it’s needed.
Afterward you can decorate your Bonsai however you’d like. Add more gravel, moss, and other ornamental decorations if you’d like.