Tag Archives: Roots

Live Veins on Bonsai – do they exist?

Most bonsai enthusiasts will have come across the term ‘live veins’ in the context of bonsai. Live veins are areas of living bark surrounded by deadwood. They are often seen on juniper bonsai, where a section of bark twists around the tree in a dramatic contrast to the white deadwood (Sierra juniper are particularly amazing). […] Read more… >

Choosing a pot

Of course your choice of pot has a lot to do with the aesthetic vision you have for your tree, and I’m certainly not going to get into a debate about ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ trees and pots (hint – I’m not a fan of gendered bonsai!) Or glazed/unglazed (etc). The pot for your bonsai is […] Read more… >

Root Food Storage (or, can I root prune before bud break?)

One piece of advice often given to bonsai enthusiasts is that root pruning should be avoided until bud break – usually the advice says you should wait until the buds are just about to burst and then you can repot to your heart’s content. But is there any scientific basis to this? The rationale for […] Read more… >

Ramification of Roots (lateral root development)

Lateral roots are ones which branch off from the main root – just like lateral or axillary buds aboveground. Lateral root development is how roots branch and ramify – similarly to stems, which ramify through bud initiation and stem growth. Encouraging strong lateral root development is a goal in bonsai, because we want to create […] Read more… >

When do roots grow?

Europeans have rather a binary view of when plants grow and when they don’t – growth in spring and summer, and none in winter. Deciduous trees give this impression, but as someone who did not grow up in Europe, I never had a sense that there were such specific times of growth – all around […] Read more… >

Root structure and architecture

So we know what roots achieve for a tree, but how are they structured? To start with tree roots are either woody or non-woody. Woody roots have undergone secondary thickening and are long-lived, like the trunk and branches, and provide the structural framework for the tree.ref The ‘root collar’ is the area on the tree’s […] Read more… >

Root Exudates

I had never heard of root exudates before creating this website, but in fact their production is so important to plants that they “invest up to 20–40% of their photosynthetically fixed C”ref in this process. Root exudates are basically substances created by root cells and sent out into the nearby environment – known as the […] Read more… >

The Rhizosphere

Roots exist in a their own ecosystem along with soil, chemical compounds, microorganisms and variations in pH, humidity and temperature. This environment is known as the ‘rhizosphere’, a term created by Lorenz Hiltner in 1904, using the greek word for root ‘rhiza’. The term refers to the area around the roots, and is broken into […] Read more… >

How roots absorb water and nutrients

Unlike animals, plants do not have a digestive system, although the sustainable food trust makes a good argument that ‘soil is the collective stomach of all plants’ref Trees synthesise all of the substances they need to live and grow from 17 nutrients. It’s important to understand that plants don’t ‘eat food’ in the sense of […] Read more… >


The roots of your tree are *just* as important as the above-ground parts, with a lot of responsibilities which aren’t immediately obvious. I’ve summarised the main ones here but there is a lot more detail in separate posts with links provided below. So why are roots so important? Points 1 and 2 are fundamental to […] Read more… >