Root Flare

THE ROOT FLARE OF BONSAI TREES; VISIBLE OR SURFACE ROOTS

A very important aspect of a Bonsai is its Nebari (or: root-flare), the surface roots that provide visual balance to a tree. Creating a Nebari can be done using two methods; by regularly pruning the downward growing roots or by applying a propagation technique; air layering. Both methods will be described in detail below.

How to create a good Nebari on Bonsai trees

Regular root pruning

By removing large vertically growing roots every time you repot a tree you replace growth to the sideward-growing roots . In doing so, over time these roots will grow thicker and ultimately create a natural looking Bonsai Nebari.

The tourniquet method

This method involves tightly wrapping copper wire around the base of the trunk, partially blocking the stream of nutrients from the roots. When the trunk grows thicker the stream of nutrients will decrease more and more, forcing it to grow new roots just above the wire. Apply a tourniquet during the spring.

Step-by-step plan for applying the tourniquet method

  1. Wrap a piece of copper wire all the way around the trunk right at the point where you like new roots to grow . The wire should cut about halfway into the bark; the thicker the trunk the thicker the wire should be.
  2. Dust some rooting hormone (available at Bonsai shops) around the ‘wound’ and cover it with normal soil. Do not cut off the part underneath the wire until enough roots have developed above the wire; this will take one or two years. .