Last spring I found myself a nice goyomatsu. It’s a non grafted variety grown from seed. It’s been said to be a quite old specimen. They are natural slow growers with a weak rootstock. I like it because it has the nice mature scales on the bark and, a trunk as thick as a soda can and green foliage instead of the blue foliage from the grafted ones. All season long it grew vigorously and only dropped some needles after the repotting. It looked like it settled well after that. But…. this fall after a long period of rain when the tree started to go into dormancy I saw some parts turning yellow. Now Pines do drop old needles in fall so at first I didn’t think it was a problem. Until the moment I saw some whole branches turn yellow. I asked a local bonsai grower for advice and said that if a pine has a root problem it uses a survival mechanism and disposes needles. In that case it doesn’t matter if it’s three year old needles or whole branches. The advice was to keep it out of the rain and in a dry spot with sun if possible. The main thing was to get the rootball to dry up.
I cut off the branches that died off and kept the tree as dry as possible. After a couple of weeks all the needles stayed green except for some older ones that dropped, but that is just a regular cycle. So a while ago I decided to check on the roots to see if I could spot the problem and saw the whole lower part was black. Died off roots and I immediately thought repotting would be best. Although it’s not the time of year. But I could either risk that or wait and see what happens in spring.
I took all the black roots off and luckily I didn’t had to do anything to the live ones. I got a slab from a friend and decided to pot it onto there because off the drainage and it was bigger. The slab will get rid off excess water faster and it provides the roots some room. It was just transplanted onto the slab with no pruning of the live roots and no soil removal so I hope it will be happy and get his strength back next season.
For now it’s in the winter shelter dry and protected.