Creating a Bonsai

My most recent obession – Bonsai! Here’s what I threw together over the weekend.

The first task is to find a proper container. I found this large shallow concrete pot at a local shop in Berkeley for about $17 (super cheap for something of this size!). Next I threw in some volcanic rock to ensure good drainage.

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Cover those rocks with a sandy soil mixture. I just used the same mix that I use for all my succulents, but with some rock dust and epsom salt added. Nutrition is key for a healthy bonsai.

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Picked up some potting soil from the same shop for $3. Its a porous loamy mixture that I know these plants are gonna love.

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Add some rocks for extra drainage.

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Add some different colored rocks because it looks cool.

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I don’t want my bonsai tree to get lonely, so let’s add in some friends. I picked these up from a local nursery.

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Now we’ve got to find a bonsai tree. Lucky for me, I have a dwarf pomegranate that I rescue’d from Lowe’s off the discount rack. It’s also got a few years on it already since I just threw it in the ground 2 years ago and forgot about it.

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Doing my best to take a large chunk of the roots with it. Also important to ensure a successful transplant is to take some of the native soil with it, which contains beneficial microbes.

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Give the roots a little rinse to keep them moist and help untangle them.

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I decided to do a ‘root over rock’ design. This rock was salvaged from an old saltwater aquarium I had. Fun fact about pomegranate trees: they’ve got a higher salinity tolerance compared to other trees. I still gave the rock a good blast with the garden hose to knock off excess salts though.

I packed in some soil around the roots to sort of act like a glue until the tree can fully recover from the transplant. I’ll be slowly rinsing away this soil over time to give the bonsai more of an ‘exposed root’ look that will help make it look even older.

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Time to add in the other plants. Look how root bound they are! Let’s fix that.

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Gently untangled the bottom of the roots. If you don’t do this, the roots may continue to encircle the plant and eventually suffocate it.

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The ‘rough draft’.

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Cover with some cool looking pebbles to hold in the soil, give it a good rinse and there we have it! A little bonsai landscape. All that’s left to do now is trim/train the pomegranate tree over the next few years. If you decide to go with an exposed root style for your bonsai, just remember to keep the roots moist until they become more established. Enjoy and good luck with your own bonsai project!

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