Bonsai Tonight

Mountain Hemlock

Posted in Bonsai Development by Jonas Dupuich on April 3, 2012

I recently added a new tree to my collection – a mountain hemlock. I haven’t worked with the variety before so I have a lot of learning ahead of me.

Mountain Hemlock

Mountain hemlock – Tsuga mertensiana

My first goal for the tree is to develop a healthy root base. To do this, I will bare root half of the tree and introduce the exposed roots to bonsai soil. I start the repotting by searching for the surface roots.


Hemlock – out of the pot

I’m in luck – large surface roots are sitting just below the soil line. The roots aren’t perfect, but they are healthy and plentiful.

Surface roots

Surface roots

After locating the surface roots, I removed all of the soil from the front half of the rootball. As I worked, I found two large roots that had been cut and since healed over.


Root callus

To encourage new root development, I cut away the callus on one of the roots. I’ll do the same for the other root the next time I repot.

Cutting the callus away

Callus removed

As there were no large roots, I was able to fit the tree into a large bonsai pot. Here’s how I prepared the wires.

Wiring the pot

Pot ready to go

The tree’s large surface roots made tying the tree into the pot a breeze. Here you can see I protected the root with an automotive belt – a chopstick kept the wire from sliding closer to the trunk.

Auto belt protects roots

Automotive belt protects the root

Seeing the tree in a bonsai pot made me excited about the tree’s future – especially the deadwood near the base of the trunk.

Hemlock - repotting complete

Hemlock – repotting complete

Although the deadwood here is somewhat unusual, the formation is not uncommon among hemlock bonsai.

Deadwood detail

Deadwood near the trunk

From what I can tell, hemlock bonsai is becoming more popular these days. I hope so – I think it’s an attractive variety. For more hemlock fun, check out Michael Hagedorn’s intriguingly titled post, “Mountain Hemlock on Levitated Nylon Board.

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5 Responses

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  1. gaycarboys said, on April 3, 2012 at 4:30 am

    absolutely gorgeous.

  2. yenling29 said, on April 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Nice Tree!!! I love Hemlock

  3. Peter woodland said, on April 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Hey small world! I believe I recognize this tree. Was it purchased from boon or hagedorn? If so then it was collected by my friend anton nijhuis of Campbell river. Anton is a prolific collector of m. hemlock. I came close to purchasing this very tree, it’s a beauty.

  4. Jonas Dupuich said, on April 3, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Good eye – I found the tree at Boon’s. Thanks!

  5. peter said, on April 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Im keen to see what you do with those dead branches on the lower trunk…should be nice. Great blog by the way!

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