Creating exposed root pine bonsai is simple – plant a seedling in a deep container with large soil particles that can give the roots an interesting shape. Here’s what the process looks like in detail.
Start with young pines and a deep container.
As for soil, use what works best for young pines in your area.
Akadama and pumice
The key ingredient for creating exposed root bonsai is the larger sized aggregate around which the roots will grow. Larger particles will yield fewer, but larger roots. Smaller particles will yield a higher number of smaller roots. I’ve used lava, pumice and large pebbles/small stones ranging between 7/16″ – 3″. For the present example, I’ll use Japanese hyuga (pumice) with particles between 3/4″ – 1-1/2″.
Good sized particles for making exposed root bonsai
Begin by placing a small amount of bonsai soil in the bottom of the pot. This is where the roots that will support the future tree will grow.
Adding bonsai soil
I added about this much bonsai soil
Next, add the large-sized aggregate.
Adding the pumice
Large pumice particles
I save some room at the top for more bonsai soil.
The pot is filled with pumice to this level
This is where the tree is planted. I uproot the young pine, place it on the large-sized aggregate, and add bonsai soil.
Uprooted one year-old black pine seedling
Placing the seedling on the pumice
Covering the roots with bonsai soil
This is what the seedling looks like in its new pot.
Because the pots I use are prone to tipping over, I’ll place three of them in a larger container to keep them upright.
Three future exposed root pines
There are as many variations on the above steps as there are active bonsai imaginations. For some of my seedlings, I placed an upside-down pot on top of a gallon can to create more exposed roots.
Pine seedling in a taller container
The seedling on the left will have more exposed roots than the seedling on the right
That’s it! For more information relating to exposed root pines, click here.
Exposed root pine workshop at ABS Gateway to Bonsai Convention
I’ll be leading a workshop on this exact topic at next April’s Gateway to Bonsai Convention in Collinsville, Illinois – just east of St. Louis. The American Bonsai Society event will feature a large vendor area, 20 workshops, and demonstrations by headliners Bjorn Bjorholm, Marc Noelanders and Matt Reel. In addition to the exposed root pine workshop, I’ll be vending at the event and conducting a seminar on advanced wiring techniques.
The material for the exposed root pine workshop will be very similar to the material shown here. Participants will create two exposed root pines and learn about the follow-up required to develop the seedlings into exposed root bonsai.
Learn more about the ABS Gateway to Bonsai Convention here.
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