The Q&A Archives: Bonsai Repotting

Question: I am looking for information on repotting a 15 year old Chinese elm bonsai. It seems to be quite root bound, but I do not know how long it has been in its current pot. I've owned it for over a year. I would also like information on the type of soil that I should use to repot the tree.

Answer: Your Chinese elm should be transplanted every two years. Spring is the best time for each successive tranplanting. Use only a slightly larger pot each time; any container with drainage holes is OK. It should be pot-bound. That's part of why it's so small!

Always make up a fresh soil mixture and prune the roots fairly vigorously. Cut back the side roots irregularly and thin out the smaller roots to encourage the forming of a dense system.

Use an organic soil mix of 70 % loam, 20 % sand and 10 % leafmold. A dab of moss at the bottom works well to prevent clogging of the drainage hole!

Deciduous trees should be pinched back to 2-3 buds on the previous year's growth.

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