July 2013


July 2013, Vol. 39, Issue 7

George Shoptaw - California Juniper

George Shoptaw – California Juniper


  • President’s message
  • JT’s Tree Tips
  • Midori Member Profile
  • Club Announcement: 2013 Backyard Tour
  • July Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

Presidents Message

JT PictureRemember we meet on the second Thursday July 11th and not the 4th because of the holiday.

The backyard tour is on the 6th, before our meeting so I hope you enjoy it.

Summer is coming in with quite a sizzle.  Protect your trees if the heat is prolonged and it gets windy.  It may be summer but here in our area there is always fun to be had and work to do in bonsai.  Stay at it and prepare for the show coming up in late September.

This month lets all remember to bring in show and tell junipers as it is the subject to the open workshop on both the second and third Thursdays.

J T’S Tree Tips

Were getting a real hot spell so remember to water and mist your trees.  Trees can get that haggard look with this heat and more so if it gets windy.

This is the end of decandling season.  After about the 15th there won’t be enough time to have the new buds and shoots mature by the end of the season, so do it now.

One caution: Don’t decandle trees, or specific branches on trees that are weak, or branches tips that need to be lengthened or fattened in your design.

Typically, we start on the largest pine trees first and end with the shohin.  The reason for this is that the early decandling will yield longer needles than the  later decandling (longer time to grow before hardening).  All things being equal, larger needles are more in scale on large trees and small needles look best on shohin.

This said, leave intact any weak candles on the inside of the tree that have not extended at all.  Healthy short candles on inside and lower part of tree, cut at the base.  Medium strength candles cut about 1 to 1 ½ times the diameter of the candle above the base of the candle.  Strongest, cut about 2 to 2 ½ times the diameter of the candle above the base.  This helps give weaker candles a head start in developing uniform budding.  Pull the fertilizer off the decandled trees for a couple of weeks then feed regularly.  Black pines like lots of food.

Turn your trees regularly to keep growth even.  If all of your bonsai look like windswept style trees it’s probably because you haven’t turned them.  Foliage grows toward the sun.  You can defoliate or leaf-prune (cutting leaves off but leaving leaf stems on) deciduous trees except beech. Usually pulling half the leaves is sufficient to kick in a new crop. This will kick in a new set of leaves.  This can be accomplished by cutting off the big leaves, every other leaf, the outside leaves or a select area of leaves of the tree.  There are many ways to do it depending on your intended outcome. Be sure they are healthy and vigorous before trying this technique. It is usually best to remove most of the leaves on the top and outside of strong branches while leaving more of the inner leaves to strengthen this weaker area.  Remember: pinching and defoliating, while helping to ramify, weaken a strong tree.  Don’t do it to a weak tree. Moreover, don’t do it every year.

Keep pinching new growth on trees you are refining.   When you see the growth spurts slow down, as it probably will this month or in August, let the growth go and return energy to the tree.  We can trim it back prior to the show.  The trees will naturally go through another growth season in the early fall.
For those trees in development, where you need movement and length for styling or to strengthen a branch, let the shoots grow after first wiring them.

You can still air layer your trees but please don’t defoliate them at the same time.  The more foliage load on the tree, the faster the roots will develop.

This is also a good time to take cuttings on hardened shoots.

Spider mites, aphids, scale suck the life out of your trees.  Look for them on the tree or tap a branch over white paper then smear whatever drops on to it.  If you get a red smear, guess what?   Spider mites most likely.  Try spraying them off with a hose and/or nuke ‘em! Try 3 applications spaced 7 to 10 days apart using your concoction of choice.  UltraFine® oil, Neem oil, Malathion®, Diazinon®, Orthene®, Isotox®, and the like to stamp out the critters.  Spray from underneath and on top.  Use a spreader, a few drops of dishwashing detergent, to make it stick to the trunk and branches and foliage.  The same goes for fungicides like Daconil® or Benolate®, which can control mildew which breeds on the foliage when you have a combination of warm Summer evenings and moisture (from watering to late in the day) as well as other fungal problems.

Keep feeding your trees as we outlined last month. Remember black pines need more than most other trees.  Add more fertilizer in tea bags, or rapeseed cakes or cottonseed meal balls until next month.  Or continue the water-soluble fertilizer as you have been doing.

Prevent heat damage to the roots.  Sphagnum moss on the surface of the soil can help cool down these areas. Overhead shade cloth is another aid in relieving summer heat stress on trees. However it does restrict sun to the trees manufacturing plant – the leaves. (My shade cloth goes up in June and comes down in mid-September).  Try 30% – 50%  shade cloth, available through Gempler’s, to just dampen the effects of the scorching sun without giving up the growing power the sun provides.   In my microclimate this seems to be the perfect amount of shade.   Most shade cloths available are 60% to 70% (available at OSH or Home Depot).   These are more suitable to cooling the patio for people rather than helping bonsai grow.  Growth under these darker cloths seems to be leggy and stay succulent longer.  The internodes tend to stretch out and the tree can lose the compact foliage we fight so hard for.  However, if you cut up pieces of 60% – 70% shade cloth and put them on top of the soil and covering out past the edge of the pot and you have a great cooler for your trees.  I use this myself instead of the moss covering.

Check your trees a couple of times a day.  Water only those trees that need it.  When you do water, make sure that the water penetrates completely through the soil.  If a crust has formed the water may just be flowing off the top and down the sides without penetrating the root mass.  Use a chopstick to agitate and break up the soil.  Adding a little dishwashing detergent acts as a surfactant and helps the water to penetrate the surface soil area. Don’t water the leaves in the evening as mildew can form in the warm conditions at this time of year.  Early morning is the best time for thorough watering.  Watering in the evening tends to also cool down the soil when it could benefit from steady warmth.

If your deciduous leaves dry up on an extremely hot day, don’t panic.  The safety system of the tree sloughs off flowers, fruit and leaves when it is distressed to protect the core life zone in the tree, namely the vascular system.  You may lose some of the ramification in the branches but you should be able to build your tree up again.  Many times the tree will sprout new buds as if a new season were beginning.  Keep moist, but don’t over water as you may drown the roots which have been weakened.  Again, shading the soil with shade cloth or sphagnum moss covering should make this problem very rare indeed.

Midori Member Profile

This month: Kathy Sloan

How did you get involved with bonsai?

When I was a young child the neighbor across the street had some beautiful bonsai. I believe seeing those trees planted the first seed of my interest in bonsai.  In Nov. ’08 Jim Ransohoff gave a few public seminars and that led to me taking 6 beginning workshops with Sandy Planting. She introduced me to Bob from our Midori club and I joined at the first meeting I attended.

How long have you been doing bonsai?

Dabbling in it since Nov. ’08

How many bonsai do you have?

About 30, mostly pre-bonsai.

What is your favorite specimen?

I love maples, junipers, blue spruce, redwoods, wisterias, etc.

What is your favorite bonsai style?

Cascade, informal upright, group plantings.

How much time do you spend on your bonsai weekly?

It really varies. I of course water daily and sometimes spend most of the day wiring, pruning, repotting.

Special skills in bonsai?

Don’t have any..still need a lot of advice.

How many yamadori (collected trees) do you have?

2 boxwoods and 1 maple.

Why are you doing bonsai, what does it mean to you?

I love gardening, and bonsai are a beautiful addition. I really enjoy learning about all types of trees and being able to have them in miniature. It’s great to keep learning. It’s an enjoyable hobby that can be done alone or with others and has no negative side effects except that it can be expensive. I really enjoy seeing the amazing trees that some of our club members have, club demonstrations and going to bonsai shows.

Club Announcement: 2013 Garden Tour

Save the date: Saturday July 6th!

This Year our Club is back to visiting three of our club members homes, all within a short driving distance from each other. We’ll follow the tours with a potluck barbeque to finish off a great day of bonsai and good fellowship.

A flyer with all the detailed information will go out to club members via email. Feel free to ask Jack Christiansen or any of our club board members for more information.

July Meeting Topics & Club Calendar

July 11th – Juniper Workshop

This month, as you may know, will be held on July 11th, so as not to interfer with your July 4th plans.
Our general meeting on July 11th will be a juniper workshop. We won’t be having a demonstrator, but there will be plenty of members to give you advice on your junipers. So bring in some junipers to work on for the evening. It will be much like a 3rd Thursday workshop night. However, we will be having a show and tell table. We thought to keep the show and tell to strictly junipers, so bring in a few junipers to talk about during our show and tell. A good workshop meeting is apt to get lively.

Hope to see you there!






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