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  • Writer's pictureDavid Meyer

Spring is Arriving!

Spring is arriving, ushered in via dry March winds. Catching a ride are hitchhikers such as red spider mite and aphid, laying eggs for their progeny; such is Nature’s way. Keep a watchful eye for these homeless vagabonds and oust them before they set up housekeeping. A strong blast of water, with a few drops of Dawn liquid soap will serve as an eviction notice. Spray with “All Seasons Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil” (Bonide brand is good), available at garden centers. This will smother the eggs; repeat in one week to be more effective. I use two tbs per gallon and it works best in warm weather. March is a good time to water in the 12-month Tree & Shrub “Protect & Feed”, a Bio-Advanced product (formerly Bayer), with best prices at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Amazon Prime online. Dosage is 1 tsp per 1 gal. size root ball, 2 tsp for 2 gal. (listed in label directions). This product is not effective on red spider mite, but the oil is.

Let’s not be too aggressive with fertilizing, as our potted treasures should have root balls warming to 72 degrees in order for roots to benefit from this feeding; water thoroughly before application. Late March to mid-April will stimulate spring growth, as we begin to heat up. By now, you should have prepared your junipers for spring growth by cleaning out those “suckers” between secondary and tertiary branches, opening up for emerging buds to receive the sun. If you have leggy branches, trim back to thin out, pre-serving those branch tips to draw growth auxins traveling from the roots. You can transplant juniper safely into late April, repotting into well drained soil. Ideally, use 1/3 moisture retention, mulch or Profile amendment, etc., and 2/3 drainage such as pumice, cinders, perlite, chat, etc. For simplicity and convenience, just buy a bag of Black Gold cactus/succulent mix at Mesquite Valley nursery and sift out the fines.

For our deciduous bonsai, allow aggressive new shoots to elongate and “harden off” before trimming back to one or two sets of leaves, especially important for elms. Usually (a dangerous assumption in our climate), this occurs in April. Crape myrtle opens later in April, but we can repot now while dormant. I’ve recently seen a grower’s label on junipers at the nursery advising “water every 2-3 days”— where is this, in Florida? Read labels carefully, and if you have questions, call one of our mentors! Our very dry conditions continue, with nearly zero dewpoint and humidity readings. I expect another very long, hot, and dry summer this year. More about summer care in my next blog.

Closer to home, when will we be getting together again? This isolation really sucks! I think it will be when we have “herd immunity”. The Phoenix Society has already started workshops and meetings, with their annual show given Sunday, March 21 (one day only, outdoors) at the Japanese Friendship Garden, 1125 N. 3rd Ave., in Phoenix. Tucson is behind the 8-ball in receiving shipments of Covid vaccines. At age 83, with chronic respiratory issues, I’ve been registered at four sites, and still no appointment. Well, this process filters through our Federal, state, county, and city agencies. These are the folks who repair our potholes! What could go wrong?

After I have received the necessary vaccinations, I plan to hold workshops at my house, limited in size, even before our meetings commence at the Woman’s Club facility. It may be too late for TBS to offer an exhibition this year, even though the TBG pavilion is outdoors. What about classes at the Gardens? Don’t know yet. We can certainly schedule nursery crawls with mentors, all outdoors. Next year will be our 50th anniversary; maybe a “really big show” at the Gardens?

Plan on it!

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