Out of season (slightly) Cork Oak Repot from Nursery Stock

I found these cork oaks at a nursery and couldn’t pass them up. I’m in SoCal and cork oak repotting is normally December-February and obviously we’re past that window. I’d love to get these out of dirt/nursery pot and separate the 2 trunks to give them room but don’t want to severely risk the trees’ health. Am I stuck with what I got until next main repotting season?

If you want to separate them it is by all means a major repot and I wouldn’t do that out of season even if slightly. My only reference would be Satsuki for which it is even mentioned that severe repots should be done earlier in the repotting season.

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Awesome thank you for the response! I’ve always heard Quercus can be very sensitive to root work but wasn’t sure if I was being overly cautious. I’ll probably just slip pot into a larger container to give the roots some room

Hey there, in SoCal as well. Those are nice nursery finds.

I would just try to be patient and wait until December. Have they started pushing new growth yet? My cork oaks have been sleepy this year from all the cold and rain, and are just starting to really ramp up.

Oaks can be sensitive to root work, but they are also really tough trees too. We have a slight leg up being in native range, but as long as you’re respectful and leave some roots untouched, you can work an oaks roots with success.

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Thanks for the reply! I was very excited to find these and they only had a few so I’m assuming another Bonsai enthusiast placed an order as even the staff said they never see cork oaks in stock.

I’d say it’s 50/50 on buds. Some tips have elongated with 4-6 new leaves and about half the buds are swollen but haven’t popped yet. I’m fine with waiting as they seem healthy and I assume I’ll need to bare root them to get the trunks separate. Id rather do one major repot than 2 close together assuming that would be better for their overall health?

Good to know about the roots. This is a new genus for me and I am trying to learn everything I can now. Would you avoid barerooting even in December/January? Or is it totally fine during that time of year?

Sounds like it’s a little late to work roots based on its growth. If it truly is 2 separate trees, I would only go really heavy on the roots between the trees and leave their outer edges only slightly worked so they can recover then work the other part of the roots in the next repot. You want to leave some of the roots alone because oaks rely on good biology around their roots to be healthy.

Post an update when you get to work on it :smiling_face:

This is one of my cork oaks


Thanks for the advice! So you would treat this species similarly to a juniper or pine and work out all the native soil over a few repotting cycles?

I absolutely will when I get them into proper training pots!

That’s a lovely tree and great inspiration! I love the pot selection too. It’s hard to tell by the photo but are you using a top dressing with it?

I treat oaks like an oak. They are a little bit of a cross between the two. They need foliar to recover, but they are also endemic to fire country which tells me their strength is mostly underground. You can flat cut an oak to a stump and it will regrow. When I collected a coastal oak (before I knew what I was doing) I flat cut it and only had a finger sized root left. It’s regrown so many roots and it thriving, but I didn’t touch the top. So, I would say build up as much foliage this year to help recover after its repot. Hope that makes sense.

Thanks for the compliment. The pot is a pretty blue with yellow to it. I do have top dressing on it and surprisingly I get great moss growth in SoCal once the biome is working in the pot. I use a sun tolerant type of moss ( Bryum Caespiticium ) shredded up with sphagnum (wear respiratory protection when grating). It takes about a year for it to get going so don’t be discouraged

Better picture of the top dressing

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Fair enough! As a beginner I’m still looking for commonalities and patterns between species I’ve spent time learning already and species that I’m new to. That’s crazy the coast oak regrew from almost flat cutting it, that seems to go against everything I’ve heard about the fragile, sensitive roots. Your ideas make perfect sense and echo the plan I’ve fallen on from previous discussions. I’ll do what I can to get it energy positive going into a December repot and try to set the tree up for success.

That’s awesome! I don’t see top dressings often in SoCal, especially at the public displays of club trees so I wasn’t sure if it was possible or worthwhile. All of my trees are still in primary development in flats or pond baskets but I will be saving your comment for future reference.

Fertilize heavy all this year so it’s stocked full of energy.

Here is some SoCal Moss envy :joy: everything in these pots have been in them over a year.

Ponderosa Pine


Pepper tree

Coastal oaks

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Thanks that’s the plan! My go-to has been jack’s 20-20-20 for pumping up trees and just gave it some today.

Wow ya those are great! Moss seems so rare down here it’s incredible you’ve gotten it to thrive so well. Also I like all the decorations in the pots

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