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Number two on the list of things I was doing wrong for two decades: Repotting too often. 

I have heard from many who are scared to repot their bonsai – afraid they will kill the tree. Not me! Perhaps I read one too many things that suggested you should repot annually. And I did for many of my trees. I enjoyed it. Got good at it too. Didn’t kill the trees either, but boy was I slowing them down! My trees were in development. I should have let them grow. Instead, I was root pruning and repotting like I didn’t want them to grow beyond what they were already. 

Any advice about how often to repot (or anything else for that matter) should taken with a grain of salt. The advice is given from the context and experience of the giver, not the receiver. If a guy like me (with a bunch of undeveloped trees) hears from a guy with many refined trees, the advice just doesn’t apply. 

“We repot too often,” local guru Rich Bozek says. Here’s how he breaks it down:

There are three reasons to repot.

  1. Soil decomposition
  2. Loss of percolation
  3. Aesthetic reasons

And NEVER repot a sick tree!

One way to understand his advice is this: don’t repot a tree because a certain number of years has passed. Repot because it is needed!