Hey yall back with more bonsai. We’ve been working the last year thinking of how we’d come back and what techniques we’d be developing and here’s the first of the series.
When we started there was a few people growing cannabonsai as far as we know: andrew pyrah, getslothed, and budzai. We began to make a concerted effort to use traditional techniques on bonsai to begin our mission of demonstrating that cannabis can be true authentic bonsai.
This is the start of a series of cannabonsai rounds we’re doing to demonstrate the new techniques, styles, and concepts we’ve been developing in the background over the last year.
The first of these cannabonsai is what we’re calling Floating Rock.
First, the foundations – we’ve done a lot of rocks, crystals, even 3D prints, but for this one I wanted to start with a bit more of a concept. Here I’ve used a clear acrylic rod about ¾” in diameter to lift a type of typical bonsai rock up out above the soil line. The goal was to create the impression that the rock is floating above the soil, and have those roots drape down into the basin below.
First I had to crack the rock to create a flat surface, so I wrapped it in cloth and broke it with a hammer. Next I used a mini rotary tool with a type of milling bit to slowly carve into the end of the rod the same shapes of the exterior of the rock so that it would sit inside it. This contact helps hold the stone in place and create more surface area contact for a bit of food-safe epoxy to hold it in place.
Now that there’s a solid base in the pot I could take one of the small plants in development to arrange and place onto the base.
The style we’re going for is a simple tall root-over-rock with a beautiful Vanilluna on top. The canopy will be a simple branching tree style, possibly a type of slanted upright. We’ll see how it goes and keep updating this page with the videos and pics of this plant.
Soil Removal, Root Detangling, Arrangement and Placement
I pulled the plant out of the pot here and began removing the soil slowly allowing it to fall from the roots as the plant is held up. Avoid scratching or pulling as those movements can easily tear roots. In order to handle roots it helps to be gentle and know where force can be applied!
Roots are flexible but break pretty easily, so I’ve found that pinching and squeezing the soil clumps can cause the soil to loosen its structure and fall from the roots, without much root breakage.
As the soil falls from the root mass, you’ll slowly see the root structure emerge. Pay attention to where the taproot is, which large groups are lateral roots and which are major structural groups. This helps when detangling and placing later on.
Detangling and Grouping Roots
This step is a bit more tedious, but in order to avoid having a tangled chaotic heap of roots, you have to detangle them. The branching structure of roots will naturally lace through each other creating webs that when dropped on a base medium, create curves and loops, not giving the cannabonsai any negative space between the roots, which is as important as the positive space of the canopy of a bonsai.
To detangle, keep the plant held high and use the other hand to run the threads apart from each other one at a time. Many of the stronger roots have finer hairs that grab hold of each other, and it’s those you’ll want to separate gently. A few fine roots can break but the main thing is to avoid breaking any of the larger more structural roots.
Arrangement and Placement
Once you’ve detangled you can identify those major groups (roots that are bases of larger ‘branches’). With the Floating Rock it wasn’t a very developed plant to there wasn’t as much time for it to get rootbound and intertwine with itself, so the detangling and grouping didn’t take long. Once you have sorted the roots into groups, think of how it should be placed on the rock so that it can get a full grip around all sides and hold itself up later on. Here I broke it down into about three or four groups on the different sides.
Once the plant was on the rock with groups of roots separated and placed, I cleaned a bit of the top side and covered with soil again.
*Allow two to three weeks to pass*
The second part of the videos and the technique is what we’re releasing and advocating for! Most cannabonsai roots are placed and later revealed, but this is about hands-on root training.
Root Weaving, Handling
The idea is simple. Wash the roots early on, only a few weeks before placement and far too early for a reveal. By removing the soil mass, the fresh roots have no mass to hold them outward, and they press directly against the rock. Then, you rearrange the roots by hand.
Here you can see the roots were a few centimeters away from the rock, growing at an outward angle as they naturally would fill the soil volume. By removing the soil, the roots press against the rock for a tight grip and the appearance that they’ve grown against the rock without soil.
Once the soil has been removed, you can move and arrange the new roots given that they’re a bit stronger since placement. Here, for our first of the root training series, I moved and rearranged only a few roots around the mass to keep it held together and create a sort of spiraling root around one of them. I also moved a root parallel to another root to create a more calm feel.
We’re going to be focused completely on root training and hands-on root design with the cannabonsai we’re doing over the next few months, and updating each of these pages with the progress per plant.
As always, love to see the work you all do so DM us, tag us, and use #cannabonsai so we can see how you interpret the root training techniques! Cannabonzai/CBZ Press is a two-person team and we support the project with our shop, so here’s a shameless plug and go check out the new drops we have up rn!