Kempinski’s Korner – July 2022

Nebari (Surface Roots)

In June I took a vacation to western North Carolina.  Along the Blue Ridge Parkway we saw some amazing trees.  This one is particular has probably the world’s greatest nebari (surface roots).

Excellent example of nebari in nature, along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Natural Nebari

Good roots on a bonsai tree might be the toughest feature to develop.  Now that we are deep into tropical repotting season make sure you take time to work on the roots.  Grafting, trimming carving are all options to develop good surface roots. 

Here is an example of how you can refine roots.

The roots of this Willow Leaf Fig (ficus salicaria)  are crowding this pot. 

Willow Leaf Ficus (ficus salicaria) showing crowded roots in a pot

After removal from the pot. 

Willow Leaf Ficus (ficus salicaria) showing roots from top

This is the bottom of the root pad

Willow Leaf Ficus (ficus salicaria) showing roots from bottom

Now after trimming roots and trial fit in a different and larger pot.

Note how I carved some of the Willow leaf’s roots on the left of the photo to reduce some of the  bulbous look. Willow Leaf figs have a tendency to make potato tuber looking roots and they need to be corrected upon repotting.  The roots will heal over quite quickly. 

Get to work on those roots on your tropical trees now. 

Willow Leaf Ficus (ficus salicaria) in trial fit

The above photo was from 2012   This photo shows some root carving I did this year, 10 years later. 

Willow Leaf Ficus (ficus salicaria) showing roots after carving

Rob Kempinski

Rob is an internationally recognized bonsai artist and author.  He enjoys teaching bonsai at all levels and introducing newcomers to the pleasing art of growing miniature trees in a container.  Rob has written many articles for bonsai magazines and journals.  He has published several books, many on the art of bonsai.

Rob's Texas Sage
Rob Kempinski showing his Texas sage

Bonsai Society of Brevard

For more detailed information contact our Brevard based Bonsai club.

The Bonsai Society of Brevard is one of the many clubs within the Bonsai Societies of Florida.