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(and a 5 minute article to go with it)

What on earth are we going to do with this?
The branches are all on one side, and theres no taper in the trunk.
Why did I collect it in the first place?.

Ah, well, at first glance the prospects look dim but this is in fact perfect material for a raft planting.
This tree was growing on a shale bank and as a consequence the growth is mainly on one side of the trunk.

A raft planting is based on what happens in nature when a tree is blown over and continues to grow. In time the former trunk puts down roots and each branch takes on a life of its own and behaves like a new tree.

To encourage our trunk to produce roots a strip of bark is removed along the length of the underside. Make dure that the cambium layer is scraped away or healing will take place rather than rooting,

Next wire the branches. In some cases the trunk will be thin enough to bend into desirable positions but in this case the trunk is to remain straight and only the branches are wired. Since at this stage all I wish to do is to shape the branches, only the bases are wired. Detail wiring will follow at a later date.The branches can be bent to position at this stage before planting. Avoid alternate branches and use your imagination as to what you want to achieve at the end of the day

Next the existing roots are examined. In this case there is plenty of fibrous root on the underside and the thick roots growing in th wrong direction can be removed. If this was not the case then allowances must be made in making a temporary container to hold the roots.

The stripped portion can be dusted with rooting hormone powder if you have it though this is not essential.
Then the whole thing is wired into a tray, a normal seed tray will do and the whole tree is given a good haircut.
A cut off plant pot can be useful if you have more original root that needs covering.

So there you have it, more than 5 minutes work but less than 30 and that includes taking photos. Detail wiring can now continue at leisure and a season of pinching will hopefully transform this throwaway material into something pleasing.

I have also found that new roots can be encouraged by scraping the soil away gradually around the original root ball. How quickly you do this depends on how confident you are. Watering sparingly at this end also can have a positive effect.

Eventually the original roots can be removed altogether but err on the side of caution if in doubt about the amount of new root produced.


I know that I have not covered everything so if you have any further questions then please feel free to drop me a line.

Mark Kennerley Jan 2005



WHAT IS BONSAI? - A brief introduction defining Bonsai

GETTING STARTED - A few simple pointers to get you going

TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES - An outline of the basic requirements

THE CHINESE ELM - Everybody starts here, some home truths

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - A whimsical look at some common problems

BONSAI CALENDAR - What to do and when to do it

STYLING - DEVELOPING THE EYE - Slightly more advanced but essential

5 MINUTE RAFT PLANTING - A simple project

THE ILLUSION OF BONSAI - More food for thought



Useful Links to anything and everything in Cheshire
Links to the world of Gardening and garden related topics



Useful Links to anything and everything in Cheshire
Links to the world of Gardening and garden related topics

* Heavy consignments (over 2kg) to Highlands of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Scilly Isles will attract a surcharge not covered by our FREE shipping offer. Please ask if in doubt Offer applies to orders that can be sent in one box. Multiple consignments will attract normal postage rates on anything other than the first parcel. Offer does not apply to large trees that are unsuitable for shipping.

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