Pygmy cypress repot snafu

Hi all,

I re-potted a pygmy cypress yesterday into a bonsai pot out of a collection container. It was pretty rough and I’m not sure how well the tree is going to fare. Basically all the soil fell away as soon as I started chopsticking and there are very few roots. It’s pretty shaky in its container. I’ve been thinking about it all day and considering different options for how I could have stabilized it better. Would it be better to do another emergency repot into a different container with a new tie down strategy or better to just leave it as it is, care for it as best as possible, and do better next time?

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Shaky in the container is a recipe for disaster. When you have a situation where the roots are too few to allow a solid tie down I have used chopsticks cut to custom lengths to brace the tree and keep it from moving.

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Thanks, that’s what I was thinking too. So you’re in favor of an emergency repot?

Can you brace the tree without repotting? e.g. sticking a 2x4 under the trunk somewhere?

An emergency repot this soon after a repot isn’t terrible, but I’d avoid it if I could.

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Depends, having not seen the roots it is hard to judge. If you think you can effectively brace it without reworking the roots I might consider doing that. If you think not, and are going to repot again I would consider planting in pure pumice and trying to establish the root mass.

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I’ll try this first. Thanks for the tip!

question is if the container and the current soil is best suited to aid a needed recovery for the tree. In the few days since repotting not too many fine roots will have developed, which would be damaged while putting it back into a suitable grow box.

I know that Ryan says you should not tie to the outside of the pot (i.e. only use the bottom tie downs and braces against the inside). However, when I have tree that has few roots and is not stable in the pot, I typically use tie downs to the outside of the pot like they use to anchor newly planted trees in the ground. Most often 3. This is normally on a fairly small tree so the stress on the pot is not that high, but I am still fairly careful to protect the pot.

My most common method is to create a fairly open preformed hook with about the largest aluminum wire that I can push through the drainage screen from the bottom. This is then bent up and round the bottom and edge of the pot and terminated in a loop just above the rim. Smaller wire is then used to tie the tree to the loop. If it is a decent pot (not mica or similar) I place a rubber pad under the heavy wire at the rim. I also pad the tie down point in the tree. It is ugly as sin, but it is effective and avoids disturbing the roots.

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Thanks everyone for the help and suggestions. I did repot it last night and I’m glad I did. It’s rock solid now and I even found a better front.

Next question. The foliage mass definitely seems large compared to what could be sustained by the current root mass. Is it advisable to reduce the foliage to cut down on loss of water via transpiration? Or is that asking too much of the tee at this point?

Others here with more experience should weigh in, but trimming is a stress, and so I would just leave it be and let nature take its course.

Be attentive to water and if it looks good in late June, maybe a light fertilization? This year should be all about restoring vigor and growing roots. Maybe a light micorhyzae application to enhance roots?

What did you end up repotting with soil-wise?

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Thanks. That’s good advice. I repotted into solid akadama (1/16 - 1/8, 1/4 aeration layer). Ryan recommends solid akadama for pygmy cypress and the original soil mass completely fell apart. Based on my current supplies and capabilities, 100% akadama seemed to be the best choice.

regarding rimming down the foliage. i used (and a little still have) the same question. Ryan’s advise was to leave the foliage as is (was with a pine though). Foliage also will produce the “fuel” for your root growth.

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