I wanted and tried to get this post out earlier especially because October is a great month to collect in California, but life just got a bit too busy and I couldn't make it happen. I've listed a few basic tips or general guidelines below that i'd recommend when collecting trees for Bonsai. This isn't meant to be a definitive guide, more so just what I do personally and some advice I'd give to non-experienced collectors. I'd love to hear what you think.
- Be respectful of the land - get permission from the land owners, back fill all your holes and make it look like you were never there when you leave.
- Try and get as many fine fibrous roots as you can. The more roots you can keep, the better chance the tree will survive (up to a certain point).
- Bring tools that are appropriate for the collecting site. Collecting a CA juniper in a desert situation is very different than collecting Sierra Juniper off granite mountains.
- Wrap the root ball with damp sphagnum moss, an old t-shirt or anything that will hold some moisture. Then use a plastic trash bag and wrap the whole thing with clear packing tape, this will keep the root ball from getting too beat up on the trip back.
- Tie the tree to a metal frame pack to hike it back to your vehicle.
- The best time of year to collect is generally the same time you would re-pot.
- Use a plastic, wood or ceramic container that will fit the root ball nicely. I like building wooden boxes so I can make them the same shape as the mass of roots.
- Your container only needs to be maybe 1/4 inch to 1.5 inches of excess space around the sides of the root ball.
- 100% washed and sifted pumice is my favorite soil for newly collected trees to start out in.
- Make sure to firmly secure the tree into the pot so it doesn't move around(sometimes you have to get creative to do this, use aluminum wire or support the tree by attaching more wood to your box).
- Frequent Misting, or fogging(even better) could be good, but may not be required. Try not to get the soil wet from misting/fogging.
- If the tree has a good amount of roots, personally i'll put it into full sun right away. If the tree does not have many roots, I think some shade or misting house might be better.
- Light foliar feeding during the first several months is a good idea.
- Bottom heat maintaining temps between 65-75 degrees F could be a good option, but not required(I don't currently use).
- Lightly feeding with organic fertilizer one month after potting is good- but don't over do it.
Thanks for taking a look, here's a couple I collected during my last trip.
A couple close up shots.
And a cool Juko Koyo pot, I recently bought:)