Esprit Bonsai International – August 2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1
for beginners

30 - EspritBonsaiInternational #101

 The cascade’s positioning
in the pot is important. Never place
the tree near the edge on the cas-
cade side, so as not to generate
excessive visual weight at the top,
and not to end up with an unstable-
looking tree. On the contrary: the
trunk should be placed in the centre
of the pot, or slightly towards the
opposite side to the cascade. If the
pot has three feet, one of these
must be positioned in vertical align-
ment with the cascade’s lower pads.

Watering challenges
Cascade bonsai are problematic
when it comes to watering and drai-
nage, especially when the pot is very
tall and narrow. There is then very
little surface evaporation, and the
water in the pot only reduces thanks
to drainage holes and absorption by
the tree’s roots. This means that the
soil is relatively dry at the surface,
but damp lower down. If watering
is not done correctly, to reach the
base of the pot, there is a risk of
ending up with a damp surface and
dry lower soil. A suitable soil mix-
ture can mitigate this problem: put
coarse sand or gravel in the lower
third of the pot, or mix it directly
into the soil. The drainage capacity
of the entire substrate will improve
considerably. Make sure you water
well, to saturate the soil with water.
To know whether it is the right
time for watering, scrape away the
surface of the soil and touch the
base soil through the drainage holes.
The number and size of drainage
holes are also important: there must

be enough of them for the height
and width of the pot (greater drai-
nage for tall, narrow pots).

Choosing the raw
For the starting material, it is wise
to choose a variety of tree that has
pliable, flexible wood so that it can
cope better with the major twists
that are needed for the styling. Juni-
pers are ideal, especially Juniperus
procumbens which is generally low-
growing, thus making it easier to
create the style. Cotoneasters give

The pot is
square, or
rounded, and
is of a suitable
depth for
the length of
the cascade.
Mario Pavone

A lovely cascade-style shohin pine. Luigi Maggioni collection.

interesting results, but it takes longer
to develop dense foliage on them.
If you want to create a cascade
with a crown, there must be enough
lower branches to create the pads
on the lower part.
You should choose a tree that is
slightly longer than your final design.
Once it has been styled, the lower tip
will not grow as vigorously. If the tree is
longer at the outset, you will be able to
cut it back to the desired length, and
that way you will have more foliage
and branches to work on, rather than
waiting for them to grow. 
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