Just Like That..

Bonsai 1 Wm

Once upon a time it was an expensive bonsai tree


It’s an Acer (maple), but for the last year or so it has been looking a bit sick. Perceived wisdom, c/o Mr Google, suggested that a root prune might be in order. Yikes.

It was one of those jobs you Definitely Wish You’d Never Started. The first problem was getting it out of the pot. Without breaking it. The tree or the pot. And then to tease out the roots. Tease? For the man on the You Tube video it had been easy. His soil just fell apart. My rootball, on the other hand, was solid. Even a hacksaw would struggle. I dropped the tree into a bucket of water to soften up over lunch.

One hour later, still solid. I’m having to pull the roots apart with a fine tined fork. The water is rapidly turning into liquid mud. It’s not long before it’s everywhere.. splattered all over the path, shoes, trousers, T-shirt and fleece. Not to mention the dollop in the eye. But..


Bonsai Roots 1 Wm


C’est voilà


Bonsai Roots 2 Wm


I then had to cut all the roots back by half..

Bonsai 2 Wm

Give it a bit of a top prune and nestle it back, with fresh compost, into the same bonsai pot.

If it survives it will be a miracle.


2017-11-09T20:27:34+00:00February 15th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Viv February 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    It has two chances like most things in life!! I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Our local vicar has a beautiful miniature Beech Tree that I have always coveted but after seeing your post I think it is far better with him as it is still alive!!

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Beech.. now there’s a thought. Plenty of seedlings around here..

  2. rachel February 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    I bet it loves you for it, and grows like Topsy!

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      I hope so Rachel.

  3. haggiz February 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    I’m amazed how much root there was in that pot! I hope it thrives! Julie x

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      Exactly what I thought.. they were really congested!

  4. Simone February 15, 2013 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    I did the same thing with my son’s bonsai last year. It now lives in an unheated greenhouse. I dare not go and look at it!!!

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      Simone, you should go and look. If it’s died please just don’t tell me…

  5. Em February 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Everything crossed for you on this one but the wisdom of Google must be bowed down to so you may be lucky. What a sweet little tree. I hope you have photos of it alive and in leaf just in case!

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      No. Damn! 😉

  6. jabblog uk. February 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    You deserve success after so much effort. Keep us posted:-)

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks. I hope it works!

  7. Anne February 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Fingers crossed!

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      And toes..

  8. Vera February 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Crikey, that looked a fiddly job! But well done you for persevering. Hope the eye was alright. Hope the dollop in said eye was just a little splattery dollop and not a humungous one.

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks Vera. It was not as bad as the slug killing nematodes that I also managed to get in my eye..

  9. BadPenny February 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I’m afraid I know nothing about Bonsai trees… we have one or two fake ones at the charity shop ! I guess it’s all about the pruning top & tail.

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      Neither do I!!

  10. Judith February 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    It is a lovely tree and I am sure it will be absolutely fine. Trees seem to long to live, unlike sheep who have a death wish!

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

      I hope so Judith. I’ve put it back in the greenhouse to coddle it a bit.

  11. Rosie February 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    Well done for persevering with the roots, they had certainly become pot bound. I do hope your tree survives, you’ve given it a good chance:)

    • Jessica February 15, 2013 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t believe how compacted they were. But then I have had it probably ten years, in the same pot. It deserves a bit of a lift.

  12. Anny February 16, 2013 at 7:51 am - Reply

    It’s a good shape, so if it dies, you could hang tiny baubles (or similar) on it, and call it art…

    • Jessica February 16, 2013 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Good thinking.

  13. Ali February 16, 2013 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Brave you. I killed the one and only very expensive bonsai tree we have owned. Within weeks. It was a not to be repeated experiment.

    Hope your bonsai karma is good.

    • Jessica February 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      There was so little soil left around the roots I think it would have declined further if I’d left it.
      Or am I just rationalising now?!

  14. Sue February 16, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Wow…what an amzing amount of roots, I’ve never seen an unpotted Bonsai before, amazing.

    Sue xx

    • Jessica February 16, 2013 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      I didn’t expect there to be so many.. Hopefully the roots that remain will welcome the chance to spread out.

  15. Denise February 16, 2013 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Our long haired german shepherd had a full session with the mobile dog groomer – very similar really!

    • Jessica February 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Certainly the ‘hair’ was in a very tangled state!! Took a lot of combing out.

  16. the veg artist February 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    This post reminds me that we have a corkscrew hazel that really needs to come out of its pot. Why, oh why, did we put it in a pot which is smaller at the mouth than at the roundest part? If we manage without breaking the pot it will be a small miracle. Maybe we can ignore it for another year??? Good luck with your bonsai though!

    • Jessica February 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Oh I know, I’ve done that too. Even a little bit of narrowing at the top edge causes huge trouble. I bet it looks really dramatic in a pot though.

  17. CherryPie February 16, 2013 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    It probably just needs a little TLC every few months…

    … a bit of trimming top and bottom!

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 9:17 am - Reply

      That’s the theory.. hopefully the radical root prune will stimulate the growth of lots of new healthier ones.

  18. Heda February 17, 2013 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Stunning pics. Especially the first one where the bonsai is almost jumping out of the background. Best of luck with the tiny tree. I’m a gardner though with no experience of bonsai but my gut feeling is that what you have done is going to work a treat!

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Thanks Heda, I hope so. Won’t be long until I find out!

  19. steph February 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    it looks rather happy! sending good growing thoughts your way!!

    • Jessica February 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      I hope so. Fingers crossed.
      Thanks Steph!

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