This is the Brazilian Raintree I got with the original incarnation of the NoNaMe study group.
It’s a little shaggy at the moment but, as you might guess, that’s what this post is about now, isn’t it?
It is the beginning of April in Florida and it’s time for me to start working on it.
Maybe not for you, check your local listings for a time and channel in your area.
I’ve kept the wire on it over the winter and it’s time to remove it and give the tree a trim.
The last time we saw this tree was in this post (click here).
Which was also the first time.
If you go back and read that post you’ll notice that I had a lot to say; about the tree, it’s care and growth, but also about how some people in this tight knit community act towards one another.
Don’t worry, I won’t go into that here even though it amazes me the vitriol some people can show.
Gotta do it.
One sentence about it, I promise.
Although I have the ability (and penchant) to write a long, overly complicated but grammatically (I promise) correct sentence.
Here goes….
Bonsai is not a finite pie to be cut up into pieces where the man with the biggest piece is the winner but, rather, a continuously growing community (the pie, therefore is infinite) that is served best not by those who wish to gobble up and dominate the world (this man’s reputation will suffer in time, as is happening) but by those who are willing to share and be open with their knowledge.
That said, I’m probably not talking about you or you but maybe about you and definitely you.
But you, you’re so vain, you probably think this rant is about you.
It ain’t, baby.
That said, back to the tree.
I am repotting this tree (as I’m beginning to do with all my Brazilians. It’s April in Orlando, which is early, but I’m experimenting with the BRT’s this year. Some I’m going to repot twice. Once now and once at the end of summer, if they need it.
This one is really root bound, you can see the roots on the soil surface.
The pot is a Sarah Raynor.
As I begin the defoliation process you’ll see the old wire and how much length I’ve gained at the branch tips.
I had wired to the tips.
And all the new growth has those mean thorns too.
Two reasons to remove thorns in a bonsai.
One, it makes them look messy and out of scale.
Two…..come on, thorns?
Do I have to really tell you the second reason?
I’m also trimming the sloppy end pieces that have died back.
Or will die back.
When pruning a BRT, leave a bit of the branch stub above the node. The tree has a tendency to die back to the next one and if you don’t leave that bit, then you’ll lose the node.
It’s not so bad on the small branches but be very careful on the trunk.
All done, naked and waiting for my skilled digital ministrations.
Wire is still on.
That’s easy.
Wire off.
That’s how it’s done.
Wire on, wire off….Daniel-sun.
Root pruning, BRT-101.
If the tree is healthy, you’ll find copious roots.
As you comb out the roots you’ll see this alarming growths on the roots (hopefully…)
Those with limited experience might pronounce these nodule to be nematode damage.
It is not, I assure you.
These are called “nitrogen fixing nodules”.
They are an adaptation that certain plants have come up with to cope with nutrient poor soils.
Plants in the legume family (as is the BRT) compose the majority of these types of plants.
The plant will, with the help of a symbiotic bacteria or fungus, pull nitrogen out of the air and make it available to itself.
Cool, huh?
If you’re interested in nematodes, go to this post (Root Knot Nematodes In My Bonsai).
Try to preserve as many of these nodules as you can when pruning the roots.
Talk about pruning roots, when I potted this tree in this pot I tilted it to add some drama.
In that tilting I exposed some ugly roots.
With the healthy root growth, I can remove it now. Woohoo!
For the pot heads out there, some sexy shots of the pot.

Madame Raynor is truly a master ceramicist.
All snug in its new home.
Time for some (more) wire.
This is the third major wiring.
There are just a few major branches that need minor adjustments.
And that’s it for now.
The top needs a few more branches.
It’s a little thin on top in the back.
It should fill in this year.
Some more glamour shots from different angles.
This was the tree as it was left in the previous post (you’ve read it, right?)
With leaves this morning.
Before wiring.
And now…
I fertilized with my go-to, Milorganite, and put it right back where it was, on the bench in full sun.
That’s right, full sun and fertilized right after potting.
Don’t you wished you live in Florida?
That’s all….oh, one more pic, eagle’s eye view…

7 thoughts

  1. So, a few BRT-related questions. Do they prefer quick draining soil? Your mention of the nitrogen fixing nodules leads me to believe that they’re accustomed to sandy/poor soils and therefore need well draining soil.

    I was told shallower containers are better for trunk thickening. Any validity to this? What was my pierneef BRT now has quite a bit of vertical growth up top, and I’m not sure if I could capitalize on that growth for thickening, or if ‘the magic’ happens down below.

    Also, you gave your Brazilian a Brazilian. Meta.


    1. They do need very well draining soil Nick.
      And the trunk won’t thicken much in a shallow pot. Only the surface roots.
      Unless you have it in a very wide pot so the roots have a place to go.


  2. Adam, perfect timing for this blog! My BRT had initial grooming when I acquired it in the fall, but now it needs some design….now I’m excited to get started! Thanks…as usual….for the inspiration.


  3. Adam, I have a 15 inch tall BRT which i got a few weeks ago and its in very poor soil.

    Here is a picture (I’m hoping you can see it)

    It just has tiger shale on the surface and just plain dirt underneath and it’s hard as a rock, very compacted. I’ve posted in forums about it (bonsai nut) some people told me to re-pot and others told me not to re-pot it because they don’t like their roots messed with. I live in the Florida Keys. I know if I don’t take it out of that soil, it will probably kill it in the long run. Whats your suggestion? Can I bare root it? Can I rake the roots? Clean them off, etc, if I decide to re-pot it? Any help would be appreciated..



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