It’s almost over; those mornings when you open the door and feel that blast of heat. Now that we’ve passed Labor Day, our mornings and evenings begin to moderate, but not yet providing that fall comfort. Soon, our days will drop down into the 90’s, and our nighttime lows fall below 72 degrees. As that happens, we witness a surge of growth in most of our bonsai, as the heat stress is reduced. Soon, we can provide more sun to our trees, as the solar angle becomes more southerly, so don’t forget to turn your trees once a week or so. By mid-September, we can step up our fertilizer applications, as our trees will require more nitrogen and other elements. Feeding with products containing micronutrients and mycorrhizae will encourage more robust health. Organics improve soil structure and encourage microorganisms, and worms are great! Just ask Gabe, Hector, or Rod about getting started; I’ve introduced worms into several problem trees, with good results.
We can still pot some of our summer favorites in September, such as bougainvillea, elephant food, natal plum, so long as we can protect them from cold nights. Later this month, we will begin trimming and potting our junipers, into November. Our Society will be planning a late October workshop on junipers and pines, free to our members. This is a good time to repot olive, boxwood, Texas ranger, Yaupon holly, many others. Check with your mentor as to timing.
We need to monitor our soil pH, to make sure it’s not too alkaline from constant summer watering. To lower our pH, we can add sulfur, peat, or other organic material. To remove calcium deposits from our nebari, use a toothbrush and a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Soon, we can reduce our watering frequency, and once daily should be sufficient. Plant scientists tell us that trees older than juvenile (one gallon size, for sure) will be slightly slower growing in the first year after repotting, then faster growing in the second and third year. If you’re new to bonsai, consider purchasing (investing) in a 5-gallon size nursery plant of good quality, to gain several years of plant development. This size has a more developed root ball, a more woody trunk and limbs to aid in your design.
A good source of plant materials is our raffle at our monthly meetings, and we welcome your donated plants of any size, as well as tools, pots, and books. At our November meeting, we’ll hold our annual auction of bonsai material, workbenches, pots, etc. I now have at my home a large selection of tools, bonsai pots (both new and used), wire, and other supplies. You can, of course, order over the internet, but the quality is uncertain. Prices will be going up soon due to the tariffs on Chinese imports.
If you have not joined TBS, please consider our benefits, a real bargain for $35 a year. Another tip; if you do not currently subscribe to a bonsai magazine, how about one for free? Go to GSBF Bonsai Statements, and you can download up to 12 issues of this outstanding magazine for free, and get it for the remainder of this year. It’s one of the best in the country!
I’ll see you at the next bonsai meeting, and good luck!