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