A few years ago I started a batch of exposed root pines – black and red. I let them grow for several years without wiring and they now look like this.
Black pine trained in the exposed root style
You’ll notice the trunk is completely straight – the least appropriate form for exposed root bonsai to take. What to do? Cut back to one of the lower branches.
This approach will work when at least one low branch is present. For this tree, I removed the largest sacrifice branches and left several small branches in their place. Once these smaller branches have thickened, I’ll remove the straight section of the trunk down to one of the lower branches.
After removing the sacrifice branches
If I put the tree back on the table without wiring at this point, I’ll end up with straight branches too. To avoid this, I selected a new leader and wired it.
After wiring the new leader
I took a similar approach with the red pine below with one key difference. Realizing that I couldn’t use such a straight trunk last year, I wired a few of the lower branches. This saved me some work this year as I don’t have to start from square one.
Red pine trained in the exposed root style
After removing the straight section of the trunk
Close-up of the lower branches I wired last year
I have yet to decide whether this tree will take an upright form or a cascading form so I’ll leave all of the wired branches in place for now and make the styling decision down the road.
Bay Island Bonsai Annual Exhibit, January 28-29
Save the date – next weekend is BIB’s 18th annual exhibit! The show promises to be a good one and there will be great shopping opportunities too. Saturday features an auction of member trees, and vendors and club sales run both days. I’ll be vending with an assortment of trees, pots tools and supplies. I’m also bringing trees and pots for the auction. See exhibit hours and location information here.
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I am curious about the overall shape of the exposed roots. I have seen exposed root bonsai that seem to expand in radius as it goes down, giving a sense of stability that I enjoy, while others are more slender like I imagine the ones above will be. Do you style the foliage of your exposed root pines differently based on the structure of the exposed roots? If one wanted an expanding root base do you have any suggestions?
Thanks as always, your articles are fantastic!
Jonas Dupuich says
Great question Alex. The short answer is yes, I do keep the style of the roots in mind when styling the top of the tree. I also keep the style of the trunk and branches in mind when I style the roots – I’ll say more on that in a future post.
Marty Weiser says
What are you using to contain the roots? It looks like about 20 paper cups with the bottoms punched put. I am thinking that this will be look rather artificial in another 10 years since it will look like they were created in a cylinder. Any ideas as to how to create a more natural set of exposed roots that change shape along the length and also flare a bit towards the bottom?
I can envision cutting out selected roots and also physically spreading them on the lower section as ways to correct what I see as an issue above, but I was thinking of how to avoid the issue.
Jonas Dupuich says
Good questions Marty! You can see what I used for the root cylinder here: https://bonsaitonight.com/2013/03/26/repotting-1-year-old-black-pine-seedlings/
Creating taper happens naturally if you use a wider cylinder for the pot. I’ve had good success with pots around 6″ in diameter.
As for the cylindrical appearance of the roots, I’ll say a bit more in the next post.