It’s early spring here in the Seattle area that means its time to get into my very modest garden and start going any repotting that needs doing.  We had a very warm early February, followed by a a cold spell in the second half of the month.  Which meant that all the trees woke up, and then had to be shuffled in and out of my workshop. 

But when the trees start to wake up you have to do the work of repotting them before you miss the window.  The first tree to wake up is my Start Magnolia which is a very early spring bloomer.

A star magnoia in a plastic training pot.
Star Magnolia before repotting

This year I’m moving the tree into a mica training pot to continue developing the structure and start some refinement. I’m also curious if I can get some leaf size reduction in a more constrained environment.  It spent all of last year in a root builder pot to help develop the root structure after growing up in a nursery can. 

A star magnolia with the roots mostly raked out.
Raking out the roots

Raking out the roots

After that it got settled into the pot. I’m opting for “John’s Mix” soil from Heartswood Bonsai here in Seattle.  Lava, Pumice, and Bark Fines. I’m still not sure what to think of Akadama, but it’s more expensive and my trees aren’t fancy.

A star magnolia in a brown oval mica pot on a bench.
Into a pot it went.

A tree in a pot.

Now we wait, to see if I killed it in the process. Flower buds continue to swell and the flowers are starting to come out.  I also went out to the moss farm that is my back yard and added a nice green carpet of moss to the soil.

Later this summer I want to reduce the secondary trunk to a lower branch, marked in red.  I think having one dominant trunk will help to make the tree more dynamic and the crown a little less cluttered.

After the flowers bloom out, I’m going to cut back the branches on top very hard.  Probably reducing everything to 2 leaf nodes.  This will help get the lower branches marked in green get more sun and more development.

Star Magnolia treewith cut lines indicated.
Future plans for the tree.

Cut at the red line and let it grow strong in the green branches.

Now for some waiting for it to bloom and hope that I get to see it this year.  Last year I went away on spring break with my family and missed most of the bloom.  So I’d appreciate it if the tree would bloom in the next three weeks, or five weeks from now. 

I’m also going to make an effort to rotate trees on my bench more often this summer.  I can tell that this tree got more sun on the backside because all of the flower buds this year are on the back side of the tree.