Fertilisation after a major repot

Hi All,
After you’ve done a major repot, do you wait before applying fertiliser again?

I’ve been taking trees out of nursery cans to reduce the roots significantly, and general gardening folk-law says you should wait for a month or so before beginning to feed a freshly planted plant.
But what’s your experience with repotting/feeding Bonsai?
Thanks
Becki
PS: I’ll be using Omakase bonsai feed pellets.

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I always wait until I see some sort of indication that the tree is growing again. I’m not exactly sure why I do that, except that (as you mention) it’s commonly held knowledge in the nursery/houseplant world. I would be interested to hear other people’s approaches to this too.

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Ryan covered this in a recent q&a, like last week’s I think. It is not necessary and usually harmful to start fertilizing right after a repot especially if you just did major root work. Fertilizer won’t help your tree recover from a repot, it will only help your tree grow faster once it has recovered. When the trees roots are trying to heal themselves and reacclimate to a new pot the last thing you want to be doing is blasting it with fertilizer. At least wait until the tree shows you some new growth and then start.

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One of the first things I learned when repotting is to soak the tree in a pan/sink/tub of water for 10-15 minutes to make sure you’ve gotten all the soil damp. Dry soil is hard to get wet. Then do what you can to get the water out of the pot. Don’t just let it drain. Tip it to the side if you can. Or gently lift and lower the tree to shake the water from the pot. Old habits are hard to break.

I still do this. I also add Miracle-Gro Quick Start to the soak. I mix according to the instructions. Another option is to soak in water then drench with the Quick Start mixture from a watering can.


The product has a low dose of fertilizer as well as root stimulators.

Before I knew of Miracle Gro Quick Start, I would soak the pot as mentioned, drain well, then dust the top of the soil with rooting hormone. Gently water that in. I’ve heard others recommend it. It’s one of those things that makes sense and won’t hurt the tree. I’ve just never read any research on this.

Fair warning, I’m going to say this every time I mention soaking trees: I was taught to put a capful of Superthrive in the soak water. I have since come to learn that Superthirve has no reputable research backing it up. My own research showed it to retard the growth of herbs that were watered according to their directions. Plain water makes a better soak than Superthrive.

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I attended a workshop with Suthin Sukosolvisit. he did some major chops and root work on a tree. we all gasped as he did it, and he laughed. he then said…“do you feel sorry for this tree? that is the problem with many who practice bonsai. do not feel sorry. let me guess…if you did this to the tree you would water it everyday, give it fertilizer, special soil, protect it from the sun…yes?..and you will kill it. why? not because of the work done, but because you felt sorry for it. you wanted to help it. to give it food and shelter and water. the tree wants to live. all a tree it wants, is to live. it will do everything in it’s power to live. you just need to give it a little water, to protect from hard sun for a week or two. let the tree be a tree. it will live because it wants to live, not because you made it live.”
i remind myself of this workshop everyday i’m with my trees. it is hard not to want to do something for them. sometimes just letting them be is the “thing” they need from us.

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That reminds of when I took classes with Bill Valavanis, he said the same exact thing basically. Every time he’d prune a tree super hard, he’d just say “don’t worry, tree wants to live!”. Also another favorite quote from him during those classes was “I’ve killed more trees than you will ever own!” :joy::joy::joy:

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