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On February 27, 2020, Darren Wong demonstrated for members of the Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai a technique for creating exposed root Satsuki azalea bonsai. The materials used for the demo included: Satsuki azalea cuttings, one four inch plastic nursery container, a plastic empty beverage bottle, small size Japanese Kanuma, medium size Japanese Kanuma, Japanese mountain moss (Yamagoke – Dried Japanese Mountain Moss for Surface Root Protection). Tools included: scissors, chopstick, #2 aluminum wire, wire cutters.
Step one was to cut the top off the plastic empty beverage bottle and make several large holes in the bottom of the container. It is best to have a plastic bottle that is narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. This is so the roots will grow within the container and be wider at the bottom than the top. Otherwise, the roots would grow evenly or worst in a reverse taper.
Step two, fill the four inch nursery container with medium size Kanuma about half way up. The roots will grow through the bottom holes in the beverage container in to the Kanuma.
Step three, attach the aluminum wire to the bottom of the beverage container. Then insert the beverage container into the four inch nursery container and wrap the wire around the nursery container in order to secure them together.
Step four, prepare the Satsuki azalea cutting by removing all potting soil and bare rooting the plant. Trim some of the foliage, if needed. Do not trim any of the roots.
Step five was to insert the Satsuki azalea cutting roots into the top of the beverage container. Then fill the beverage container with medium Kanuma about ¾ of the way up. Top off the beverage container with small Kanuma. Now fill the remaining portion of the four inch nursery container with the medium Kanuma. Use a chopstick to remove any air pockets in the Kanuma.
Step six was to place the Japanese mountain moss on top of the small Kanuma layer at the top of the beverage container to protect the root surface.
Finally, water thoroughly.
On February 27, 2020, club president Bob Gould led the discussion on repotting Satsuki azalea bonsai. Bob brought to the monthly meeting of the Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai a number of Satsuki azaleas that were donated to the GSBF Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. These were neglected plants in various containers with potting soil. The task at hand was to eliminate the potting soil and repot the plants in 100% Kanuma bonsai aggregate.
The immediate undertaking was to eliminate the potting soil and bare root the azalea plants. The potting soil had broken down and causing problems for the plants. The use of chopsticks to pick away at the potting soil was found to be most useful for this task. Once the potting soil was removed, then the plants could be wired in to containers on hand and filled with 100% Kanuma (a preferred bonsai aggregate for Sutsuki azaleas).
Japanese Kanuma is the perfect soil for acid loving plants. The most common plant to utilize Kanuma for bonsai is azaleas. Azaleas along with Camellias, Gardenias and other acid loving bonsai can be potting into pure Kanuma. Kanuma is a very light volcanic rock.
The evening produced a number of repotted Satsuki azalea bonsai. Time will tell whether or not these plants will be developed in to bonsai.
Programs for 2020 are as follows:
- February 27 – repotting with Bob Gould and exposed root demo by Darren Wong
- March 26 – cutting back for spring growth by Darren and Laura Wong
- April 23 – presentation on suggestions and tips for our spring show by Ron Reid and Maria Sargent
- May 30 & 31 – Annual Spring Show
- September 22 – presentation on bonsai container selection with special raffle, presenter TBA
- October 22 – presentation on fertilizers and pesticides, presenter TBA
- November 19 – Annual Potluck Dinner and Slideshow Program for 2020
It happens to everyone! Failure to rotate your bonsai brings about troublesome results. You may be positioning your bonsai, in this case Satsuki Azalea “Kaho”, next to the backyard fence with shade trees. The location gets inadequate sun light. The morning sun is blocked by the neighbor’s shade trees and the six foot high fence. The only sun light on that location comes in the mid to late afternoon. By not rotating the Satsuki Azalea bonsai often enough, the back side of the tree fails to get sufficient sun light. The leaves shrivel and die off on the side without the adequate sun light. By rotating the bonsai frequently, at least once per week, sun light is present and leaves receive a good balance of sun light for healthy growth. This will elevate parts of the tree getting weak.