Oak, Eiche, Roble – My story with small trees in pots

rené becerril

I´ve always been fascinated with old trees that have been shaped with the passing of time and the harshness of their natural environment. The fact that the shapes of old tress can be mimicked with small trees planted in pots is equally fascinating to me.
When I was around 10 years old I remember seeing an old man selling small trees in pots displaying them on his car´s roof with a sign reading “Bonsai en venta” (Bonsai for sale) in my home town of Toluca, Mexico. Then I thought they were fake bonsais because to my understanding at that age, bonsais were so unique perhaps magical Japanese specimens that no real bonsai could be sold on the street on the top of a car´s roof. Some people would remember the first Karate Kid movie and would know what I mean “trim here, tie there”.

At the age of twenty I commuted almost every…

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Mugo Pine 1; first styling and repotting

rené becerril

The tree

This was one of the yamadori Mugo pines that I bought at Minoru Bonsai during a workshop from Walter Pall on July, 2015. According to Michael Tran, the owner of Midoru Bonsai, this tree was collected from the Alps, the age is unfortunately unknown.

Although the tree has a lack of nebari, the trunk is too slim at its base and has some back taper; I liked the tree because of its old flecki bark, the natural shari and the various changes of direction of the trunk.

The styling possibilities were discussed with Walter. One of the main points of the discussion was to get rid of the mid hanging branch and leave the tree only with two branches instead of three, compacht the tree and build the foliage pads along the trunk lines.

The tree was originally planted in a very large and heavy pot, the soil was…

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Root grafting onto “Kyokko”



It always seems to amazed me how pines just don’t air-layer as easy. It’s been about 2 years now and all it wants to do is callus, but pines are quite difficult to begin with. So I’ve decided to root graft them this year.

The bulge is from peeling the bark off twice and callus formation without rootage.

I’ve selected 5 seedlings from my failed grafts to be used for grafting.

After the clean up and bud selection.

I start cutting out slots where I want new roots to be, which this time I wanted 5 slots.

Making a cut on the seedlings to be fitted into the new home.

Carefully nailing them in the center without splitting the trunk.

After the placements and grafts are secure.


A wire was place around the grafts to help them fuse in place and a homemade pot was wrapped around and filled with…

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Hello world and a bit about myself!



Hi, let me introduce myself, I’m Sely the owner of Pine Needle Bonsai. I’d never really thought about running a small business but it’s a shot.

I started bonsai back in 1998 when I was stationed in Colorado Springs and got into bonsai from a little small box with seeds and instruction. And next thing you know, I was curious and gotten books after books trying to understand the different ways and styles of training. A couple years of experimenting and here I am today.

My favorite thing to do is propagate, mostly by grafting. Corkbark Japanese black pines are my choice and of course dwarves as well. Every year I try to graft them as low as I can and as the years progress I started to see the outcome of my labor.

Thanks to my mentors Dave Dewire of Wabi Sabi bonsai for encouraging me and Keith Johanson…

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Cotoneastre horizontalis re-potting

twinsrat bonsai

This tree has got to my collection in 2014 pictures of progression

It is garden center material and It has stayed in its original garden pot and soil mix. I have decided that it is the time to transfer it to some more bonsai image pot and mix.

out of the pot. lots of fresh roots.

roots stock after clean up.

and the tree in new home

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European Olive re-potting

twinsrat bonsai

This little tree has got to my collection in 2013 as a garden center material. I have potted it that time into some training plastic bonsai pot, but I used bad quality mix. It was grown ok but not as good as I wish. this year I decided it is time to re-pot it, to some more open mix. Here we have some pictures.

out of the pot . As you can see the soil is very compact because I have use wrong cat litter as the mix ingredient ( do not use backed soda cat litter even it is no clumpy ).

roots stock ( not many after 3 seasons in that mix)

and the tree in new mix ( no clumping, backed clay cat litter/ gravel , in 1/1 ratio) and new bonsai pot too :}

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Air Layered Shohin Hawthorn

Robert Nocher Shohin Bonsai

The new seasons buds are beginning to swell on this shohin hawthorn, which I pruned and partially wired today.


It started life as a shohin bonsai in 2011, when it was chopped back from a taller tree. The next picture was taken in the summer of 2011 shortly after this work had begun.


In 2012 it was transplanted into a plastic training pot. It was then I realised that it had quite an unattractive root base.


In the summer 2013, I decided to air layer it to try and improve the nebari.


Although the top of the layer had calloused well, new roots were slow to form. In the spring of 2015, I removed the split pot to see what was there. The roots that had formed were quite disappointing and mainly on one side of the trunk. I decided to cut it off anyway and planted it deep in a…

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