4LL8-ROOTS into a larger 8" pot

          There are three choices of styles and many possible applications in Bonsai Workshop II.  This workshop has about the same difficulty as the Introductory Workshop Package (IWP-8) but uses more mature advanced prepared bonsai stock with a lot more character. Being stronger, older plants,  it is possible to aggressively train to produce larger bonsai. 

           Part one explained the concept and the objectives of Bonsai Workshop II and a photo sequence using "SUMO" plants that are generally grown toward short and stout banyan forms with a low wide foliage canopy.    This part II will show techniques applicable to "ROOTS" plants.  The objective on this session is to lengthen the roots as the basis for a taller more elegant banyan form.  Components include 4LL8-Roots Living Lovable and #8 Conversion Kit and handbook.

          Remove the plant from the pot by cutting the tie-downs under the pot.  Rock the plant and lift out.  With a chopstick, loosen the roots all around until the roots fall downwards in a mass about equal to the existing exposed roots. 
          Prepare the pot by inserting two tie-down ends through one pot hole and the other two ends through the other two pot holes.  Add coarse bottom and plastic separator and add body potting mix to just cover the plastic separator.  Tamp down firmly.  Add a mound of half of the material removed from the plant.

        Loosely tie the base of the roots to form a column of about the same diameter.  Cut a piece of aluminum foil about 2 and 1/2 time the amount you want to lengthen the root column and fold over to double the thickness.

        Join the ends of the aluminum foil and fold over the edge several times until it forms a cone.  Make the cone a little tighter on the top so the bottom is a bit wider to give the appearance of taper.

          Open the cone and add some body potting mix and some of the coarse removed material so the mixture will be about half of each so it will drain well.

          Join the ends again to form a tapered cone and firm up the cone in the upper section so it securely grasps some of the older exposed roots.

          Holding the plant up-side-down and with a chopstick, gently dibble to allow the potting media to firm up towards the plant.  Add alternating amounts of body potting media and coarse removed media until the cone is firmly filled.  Flare out the bottom 1/2 of the aluminum foil cone, place your palm over the bottom, and set your plant upright onto the mound of media in the pot.  Position it firmly down and carefully push in the aluminum foil to help firm up the media in the cone.

          The easiest most secure way to tie down such tall plants is by sending one tie over the plant.  You might need to lengthen the tie with string if it is too short.  Tie to another end, crossing the ties several times,  pulling tight,  pulling out on the semi-knot, then knotting it.  Do the same with the other pair of ties from a different direction. 

          Your tree should be fairly anchored but you'll notice that the ties may seem a bit loose.  Grasp the end of your longest tie, slip it under the tie that is 2 or three over and pull out the slack.  Slip the end under the tie that is 2 or 3 over in the other direction, pull out any slack, and knot.  Repeat with another tie.

          Firm up the aluminum cone and use masking tape in spirals around the cone.  This further helps secure the tie-downs and the cone so the media in the cone will be firm.  Take a spoon and firm up the media in the pot,  rocking the spoon from edge to edge and pressing in front. Do this repeatedly all over while jiggling it a bit back and forth until all of the surface is smooth and firm.

         If all was done well,  it would be easy to lift the entire potted plant by lifting up on the aluminum foil cone.  If the plant is not shaking, with good care and suitable environment,  it will develop strong roots and grow longer roots and into a larger bonsai.



          CONCLUSION:  From this point on, standard procedures apply.  Sit the potted tree into a tub with water up to the rim of the pot.  Allow to soak for 30 minutes and use this watering method weekly.  To water the media in the aluminum foil cone, use a turkey roaster-baster several times. 

          THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION:  How long do you leave the foil on?  As long as necessary and the longer the better!  At Fuku-Bonsai,  plants at this stage that are having their roots extending may sit in the nursery for several years while been fertilized often and top-pruned one or two times per year.  We prefer to have the plants growing very vigorously and the first time, the branches may be allowed to grow out until they are 18" to 30" long!  This is the vigorous rampant growth that produce the strongest attractive roots.  After this first cut back,  pruning becomes more frequent and branches are not allowed to grow as long. 

          At this stage of training, we are developing what will be offered as 8LS8-Roots that are usually 6 to 9 years in training and usually over 10 years old when sold.  ROOTS  require a longer time to train than SUMO.  Reports from our most advanced customers tell us that root growth tend to be much slower in the northern states.  Good growth is reported in southern states, especially when plants are grown outdoors in warmer seasons.  At Fuku-Bonsai it takes about five to seven years for a 4LL8-Roots to develop into a 8LS8-Roots Living Sculpture.

          ROOTS is currently our most popular styling.  We belief it best reflects the essence of tropical banyan trees.  These trees are HUGE and may spread out over a full acre.  When viewed from a distance, they appear to be low mounds that are wider that they are tall.  But once you get close enough to be within the leafy canopy,  you'll be looking at massive trunks and aerial roots!  Both are SUMO and ROOTS interpret banyan trees.

         The next section of this BONSAI WORKSHOP II series will address HAWAIIAN DRAGON styling.  This is our newest and most individual styling effort.  It takes the longest to grow well and is the area that we are currently doing the most experiments.  Conceptually,  Hawaiian Dragons does not make any effort to replicate natural banyan forms.  THIS IS INTERPRETIVE BONSAI that is more related to the Chinese penjing concept of a pure art that utilizes the inherent horiticultural plant characteristics as design elements. 

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              Fuku-Bonsai, 2011