Here’s a tree I’ve needed to clean up and repot for a while.

This is the second tree I got from Mike Cartrett. It had a lot more dieback than the other tree (this one)
It’s been a bonsai now for about 3 years. I got it at Kawa Bonsai Society’s annual show, Joy of Bonsai. Some of my best trees are from Mike.



Some detail shots.

That’s the state of the deadwood. It desperately needs cleaning and some lime sulfur.

And repotting. Yes, those are roots looping up out of the soil.

Let’s defoliate and de-thorn it.
The leaf is actually that entire structure in my hand. It is called a compound leaf and the small oval bodies are called leaflets.

That thorn is at least an inch long. Can we say “Ouch!” ? My friend Juan was busting my chops the other day and said I should not cut off the thorns. That I was not getting the full Raintree experience with the thorns removed. Uh huh.


Ahhhhh. We can see the structure.
Now, some trimming.




So,what I did was basically cut out the branches going up or down or growing out of the branch crotches. I pruned for taper in some places and simplified where 3 or more buds were coming from the same spot.

Let’s get creative with the photos, shall we?



All the same pic. I call that iPhone digital trickery.

Now for some wire

Wired but not shaped.



Twisty,turny, loop-da-loop.
Now some lime sulfur.
First I used a wire brush to clean it a bit and then painted full strength lime sulfur onto it. Wonderful smell. Maybe they should have banned it.



Now I sit it in the sun for a couple of hours.
Tic tok tic tok tic tok…….

There we go. Had a beer and a burger. Weeded some trees, fertilized. Pinched the wife and gave her a tickle.

The Raintree will suffer when it gets root bound. It’s roots are very vigorous and need trimming often. Do it in the summertime though.
It’s also a fertilizer hog. Especially iron. If it rains too much or you are a serial over waterer you need to add granular chelated iron and refresh whenever it’s dissolved.

One of my goals with this tree was to grow the root system enough so I could hide the tie downs.
This tree has always had poor roots because it was a big cutting but now I finally have something to grab onto.

Yes! Like Spaghetti Wednesday.

A rock or two to act as a fulcrum.

Look Ma, no hands!
Or, visible tie down wires more specifically.

The pot is from Bellota Enterprises owned by Paul Katich. An awesome potter from Florida. Look him up.

That’s his chop.
Awesome quality and technique.
Two of the best up and coming potters in the U. S. are from Florida. Rod Addonizio of Taiko Earth and Paul Katich from Bellota.

Potted. In the pot. With soil. My mix.

All done.
Last shot of the Jin

Last shot of the tree


14 thoughts

  1. Wow, the tree looks incredible, love the jin, love the pot. I can see just what you are trying to do, especially when you show a before and after shot.
    Did not have much luck trying to grow them here in upstate New York even with winter protection, but I will definitely try again once I move to Florida.
    Nice job!



  2. I have always heard and read that you cannot wire BRTs. Everywhere I have heard said clip and grow method. Are you using any special wiring technique or something? Please share your thoughts on this. thanks! love the look of the tree, btw!!!!

    – michael


    1. Well Michael, first, thanks. When you follow that tree to the present day you’ll be surprised by its journey and what it looks like now.
      As to wiring a BRT, perhaps those who say that just don’t like to wire? Or never were taught or never bothered to learn proper wire application, bending techniques or what have you. I assure you, it’s just standard operating procedure. If you go to my Instagram page just today I put up a before and after of a BRT I wired and you can see the difference with and without wire. How can you match the elegance of the trunks without wiring the branches?


      1. Just looked at your instagram pics ( … you are absolutely correct, the wiring does look a ton better. I guess I’ve been scared off because people have told me they can’t be. I just “assumed” (dangerous word, i know) that it was because of the hardness of the wood. are you using aluminum or copper wire on your BRT – from the pics it looks like aluminum? Also, i’m wondering if I need to watch for the wire cutting in on an hourly basis or just daily. lol

        Just starting to play with the BRT this year and have two smaller pre-bonsai, but honestly they are probably my favorite indoor varieties! Thanks

        – michael


  3. I just repotted mine after 2 1/2 years on Monday. It’s 3 days later and dropping leaves like crazy. It this normal after a repotting? Thanks.


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