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  • David Meyer

October is time to get growing again

October is time to get growing again. It’s not too late to attend the TBS workshop at my house on Saturday, the 26th, where bonsai magic happens in my garage. Our mentors help this magic happen, as we benefit from their larger experience and skill, and all our members can learn from their knowledge. Don’t listen to those club members who mean well and want to help you with your tree, want to put in their two cents worth at our meetings, classes, or workshops; there is probably a reason why they are not mentors. Our purpose is to guide you correctly in the learning process, to discover your own path and skill, rather than impose upon you our ideas and opinions. There is a difference between preaching and teaching!

I spent a wonderful two weeks visiting family in Missouri, where fall is more visual, as trees are turning color, and lush green is everywhere from rains. I came home with a cold, but all is better now. As I return to Tucson, I appreciate even more the “living desert”, and our collections of trees from near and far away. Now, our days are in the 80’s and nights are in the 50’s, as our bonsai have a surge of growth before a winter rest. This is an ideal time to trim back our junipers, and repot them if needed, only if necessary, every 3 or 4 years, depending on age and size. Our pines can wait another month. We can repot many other evergreens, such as olive, holly, Texas ranger, boxwood, evergreen myrtle. Too late now for bougainvillea, lantana, as they need many warm nights for recovery.


Rewiring can commence now, and new wiring applied. Our fertilizing schedule can be stepped up, as our plants require more nitrogen to feed foliage, plus phosphorous, potassium, and all the trace elements and minerals for healthy growth. We can feed with 14-14-14 or 12-12-12, being careful to provide plenty of water. We can safely repot now, except for deciduous species. Our mix should contain plenty of drainage material, such as pumice, cinders, perlite, with fines sifted out. We can add a suitable ratio of organic bark and Turface to hold moisture and provide some acidity. For more acid-loving plants, such as azalea or pomegranate, add some peat moss product. I always throw in some super triple phosphate, to stimulate root growth. When you fertilize with liquid, or just water, add some Pro-Tekt to give your plant an added boost to its immune system against disease.


Consider now purchasing a 5-gallon nursery plant and get it started in the training process, watching it develop over the next several years into a specimen suitable for placing in our annual show. For those trees you already have on your bench, let’s get moving to get them ready for show in April; don’t wait until February and then decide. Refinement of design requires pruning and pinching on a regular basis, to develop density where you want it.

To achieve results, the practice and discipline of Bonsai must be a daily part of your life, not just a couple of hours squeezed in on the weekend. The internet will give you access to a vast expanse of bonsai specimens and artists all over the world, visual impressions that were not available to we older folk, so please take advantage of this media. While many of the species will not grow here, the training techniques and styles may be applied almost anywhere. Register those impressions in your mind.


Plan to attend our annual potluck lunch and auction next month, and maybe discover a tree for your collection. Full details will be forthcoming.


Enjoy the season with your trees!

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