When we last checked in on this Yaupon bonsai, Ilex vomitoria, it was coming along well with the final stage being development of the crown. It’s been in its bonsai container for a couple of years now, and I’d been waiting for a good time to repot the tree. There have been a couple of issues with it from the beginning: one, it sat a bit high in the pot due to a large and hard root that I did not feel I could cut away in the beginning of this tree’s life in a small container; and two, that large root over on the right-hand side of the tree was a bit visually awkward as a result.


Here’s the tree today. You may notice that it doesn’t have any foliage, which for an evergreen isn’t normal. Well, I had to defoliate because those couple of nights of 22° weather were a tad rough on the leaves. Dead black leaves do not look good on a yaupon, so all of the leaves had to go.








The roots were very healthy and combed out easily. I went ahead and reduced the large root, which allowed me to place the tree lower in the pot. If you compare this photo with the one above, I think you’ll agree that the base of the tree looks much better without so much exposed big root on the right-hand side.







And finally, after a good trimming and washing/watering the tree. The second key step I took today toward making this a better bonsai was to cut it back fairly hard. Many of the bonsai I see are allowed to get overgrown, due to the reluctance of the artist to do the hard pruning every tree needs from time to time. If I had to name one step everyone could take to make their bonsai better, this would probably be it.

This tree should resume growth in about two weeks. By stimulating the roots by cutting them back, the tree will respond by waking up (given our warm winter) and getting its foliage re-established.