Reading your latest posts on your blog had me thinking about starting some exposed root bonsai. I took cuttings from a few azalea last year that are now in 2 1/2 to 3 in pots. Since they all took, some are growing better than others, and I have so many I was thinking exposed root might be fun to try. Would the process be the same with azalea as it would for pine? Or are there other considerations I should keep on mind?
The basic process is the same. What I don’t know is what they use for larger particles - huge kanuma or something like hyuga.
Azalea roots are much finer than pine roots so I don’t know if there are any special considerations to keep roots from drying out between the larger particles. I haven’t done this with azaleas so I don’t have good starting tips. Will ask if I get the chance to visit or speak with a grower.
A little searching and I found a article where they used a cylindrical bag and a stick with small and medium kanuma with large pieces scattered in. The cutting ( looked to be a year or so) had it’s roots gently tied together with wire and that was secured to the stick. Since my cuttings were struck this year they probably don’t have enough to them yet. So maybe next summer or fall when the pots fill with roots I will give it a go. In my warm climate in Southern California I use fine bark, peat and pumice. So maybe I’ll look for larger prices of pumice or would large pieces of lava rock work just as good? Those are easier to find.
That makes sense - I think I’ve seen photos of that as well. I’ve used both lava and pumice and I prefer pumice as it’s softer, but lava also works. Maybe trying some of each will yield the best, or at least most varied, results.
So I checked the pots recently on the biggest of the cuttings, they were not full of roots but the soil was being held together so I decided to go for it. I did one today. I only had 1 bottle that seemed to be the right size, so I only did 1. Here are some pictures of what I did.
Lava rock from 1/2 to 1 in. or more was what I had on hand. Not too sure if I put enough in there to vary the path of roots, but time will tell. How long do you wait before you start to expose the roots? I’m thinking at least till next spring. I know you would expose a little at a time. Does a inch or so sound about right?
Looks good! I usually wait about 2 years depending on how fast the tree grows. Once I start checking, I only go down until the roots look too small for my taste. I do the same thing the next year and the next until the roots are all exposed.