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.
- Soil decomposition
- Loss of percolation
- 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!