Species Specific > Ponderosa Pine Bonsai Discussion

Ponderosa Pine

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--- Quote from: T-Town Bonsai on September 16, 2009, 09:51 AM ---I know what you mean.  On my last trip to Larry's I picked up 4 sold 2 and got another from Oregon Bonsai. 

--- End quote ---

Ah, maybe I need to take a trip to Colorado!  ;D

I noticed you styled the year after acquiring the tree, and then repotted the year after that.  Just out of curiousity, have you noticed any difference in vigor in the tree since repotting?  And how much of the native soil did you remove in the repot?

I ask because there seems to be a difference in opinion as to when to repot after collection - some say wait a few years, other say it's best to get the tree out of the native soil as quickly as possible.  On the one I got from Larry last fall, I took the approach of repotting this spring, removing a good majority, if not 75% of the native soil, and did not style it.  It seems to be doing pretty well right now.  Of the two I got from Oregon Bonsai this spring, one came mostly barerooted, so all I really had to do was put it in a pot.  The other was growing a bit weaker, so O.B. sent it in its original nursery can (it seems to be growing strongly now, so I'll likely repot next spring).

John Kirby:
Have you bought Larry Jackel's book? There is a good deal of insight there. In my conversations with Andy Smith, I have come to the conclusion that how you handle the tree can be dependent on what the weather was like in the mountains before the year before the tree was collected. If there was snow, some rain and a good deal of moisture- get it barerooted (at least 1/2) and out of the muck, if it was extended drought, dry and no snow- let it sit in the pot for a while. I repot all of mine the winter after I get them, unless they are from ANdy he has cleaned the roots following collection.

I have never lost a Ponderosa after repotting it (and getting rid of the duff/muck). I lost a large Ponderosa last year before I could repot it, it had significant root rot and was imbedded in duff as I expected it to be, it had been collected in 2006.


Hi John, I was hoping you would chime in.  I actually do have Larry's book, which I think is excellent, if only for the regional care guides at the end.  I could be wrong, but I think I remember that some of the contributors suggested leaving the tree alone a few years after collection, which was a bit of a discrepancy from those who suggest removing the tree from native soil as soon as practicable.

That's interesting about the weather affecting the timing on repotting.  I guess that is something to ask the collector.

That native soil/muck is pretty nasty stuff.  On the Ponderosa I got from Larry last fall, it took me a few hours to carefully remove the muck without damaging the old roots.  I was a bit worried because no matter how careful I was, a number of the fragile white tips had broken off.  So far the tree is looking strong though, so I think I'm out of the woods on that one. 

Thanks very much for the response.

John Kirby:
You live in a generally warm humid area. The reason Andy started cleaning his roots at collection, in nondrought years, is that the trees would essentially sit in the muck, become anoxic and die in places like St Louis, Memphis and Washington D.C. If I lived in the rockies, I would most likely let them sit awhile, dry climate, frozen most of the winter, etc.

One point from your post, I don't try to get every bit of gunk off of the roots. I don't hose mine off, I use a bucket of water to help, or on really big ones the hose without a high pressure nozzle. I also work to get the tree back in the inorganic mix as quickly as possible.

You can decide. Good luck.

Thanks very much for your thoughts John.

After seeing the muck when repotting, I was glad I decided to repot right away.  With the rain we got this year and the high humidity, I think I would have had problems.   I'll have to take another look at the regional care section and see if the difference in repotting times arises with differences in climate.  I ended up mostly using a chopstick to work the muck out.  Didn't use any water, except to the extent I was continually spraying the roots with a spray bottle to keep them moist.  Took forever, but the tree seems to be doing well now, so I think it worked out.  Given the success on my first tree, I'll repot the new ponderosa I get from Larry next month in the spring. 

Otherwise I've been following your and Walter's tips, and so far so good.  New needles on all three of my ponderosas are in the 4"+ range (old needles were closer to 1-2") and a nice green color, and the branches are getting nice buds at the ends.  Exciting stuff.

Thanks again John.  Frank, sorry I didn't mean to hijack your thread :D


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