Promises, promises. Those rain clouds are just now starting to build up and, as I write this on July 11, we’re getting closer to that gulf moisture invading our space. Our dew point, however, has been reasonable in the 25-35 degree range, which offers our little trees some relief from dry heat stress. Now, with our nighttime lows staying well above 72 degrees, we can back off the higher nitrogen fertilizers with a 10-14% reading, as many of our plants are taking a rest from wanting to grow.
I favor a fish base, organic liquid fertilizer, usually a 5-1-1 ratio, and I mix this with a 0-10-10 product and some liquid kelp. This organic mix will usually stay in your root system for several weeks, as compared with a chemical product, which leaches out in 2-3 days. Of course, I add in Pro-Tekt for added strength against heat and wind. I also favor adding in Chelated Liquid Iron (I’m using Ferti-lome, but there are other brands); it contains copper, manganese and zinc, all necessary to replace what we flush out with frequent watering. On or about August 1, I’ll switch to a dry fertilizer in a granular or pellet form, probably with a 5-5-5 formula, and still use the chelated iron brew. As we get into September, I’ll begin to increase the nitrogen and other numbers, as our bonsai will begin to rouse from their summer naps, and we can get back to our 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 recipe. I think our monsoon season, having a late start, will run through September, even as our nights cool down. This is when we resume trimming on most of our trees, as new growth buds out. Let’s hold off on trimming or repotting junipers, until October when nights are cooler.
We can continue, for now, to use sphagnum moss or coconut coi, or other products to keep the top of our root ball cool as the sun is fierce when overhead, and we can skirt our pots to help deflect that heat. We should consider watering twice a day, early morning and mid-afternoon, to cool down our root systems and introduce oxygen into the soil. If you have the correct potting mix, you really can’t overwater your bonsai! If you have a “store bought” and “from the truck at the side of the road” product, well, good luck! Best to keep it in the shade outdoors, water twice daily, and mist both morning and evening. We do urge you to visit our website (awesome!) and seek advice at our monthly meetings (also awesome).
Do you want to start a new bonsai now? Never fear! If you go to our nursery crawl on July 27 from 9-12 at the Magic Gardens Nursery, 7909 E. 22nd Street, you’ll have assistance from our mentors and teachers in selecting material. Prez. Rod will be giving us a demonstration, and non-members are welcome. Our monthly program this Sunday will be given by Paul Vasquez, our expert on “Elephant Food”, or portulacaria afra, an easy specimen for beginners. We had a great turnout for the bougainvillea workshop at my house last month, with some nice trees emerging. Have you considered a staked up boogie, purple color with small leaves? Some have wonderful nebari, and can be easily trained to a semi-cascade or cascade style. Think outside the box -- check out the nursery!
Give some thought to attending the Golden States Bonsai Federation convention, listed elsewhere in this website. I have attended for many years, as have Hector and Grace Espinosa. This will open the door to the bonsai world outside of Arizona, and you will benefit from the experience. Staged in Riverside, it’s only a day away! The workshops provide awesome material (many of my best trees came from there), with outstanding teachers and artists to assist. The event offers a large auditorium of vendors, great artists performing demonstrations and lectures, and a facility adjacent to the hotel.
Give it some thought, and expand your bonsai world!