TOKYO/TUCSON BONSAI can be an appropriate theme for our 50th anniversary expo/exhibition in 2022, as we have viewed examples of bonsai in the Olympics from Tokyo, in addition to the many gardens. Did you pick up on the traditional practice of “forest bathing”? No water involved. The person with that mindset, in meditation, embraces the tree in the forest, thus exchanging energies. Gee, that sounds almost like bonsai! Keep in mind how healthy this is, since the trees absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.
Closer to home, we are halfway through a very high energy monsoon season, compensating our thirsty desert for last year’s drought. We may be able to skip a day’s watering, if our “patch” is blessed with a deluge. My monsoon mantra is, if you have doubt, “Should I water or not?” DO. “Should I fertilize or not?” DON’T. If our potting mix is well draining, we really can’t overwater. BUT, was that rain enough? YOU be the judge, because your “patch” is different from mine. The topsoil can be very wet, but lower down can be dry. Test with a chopstick to find out. Rainwater infuses our root balls with nitrogen, so we don’t need much added nitrogen during this season, as our plants are semi-dormant due to high temperatures. When our lows stay in the 80’s and 70’s, then we will see new growth into the fall. At that time, we step up our fertilizing schedule. I continue with my monsoon formula for FISH 5-1-1 and 0-10-10, to which I add chelated iron/zinc, PRO-TEKT, and some white vinegar for acidity about every three
weeks, as it lasts longer in our pots than do chemical fertilizers. We do get more acidity from rainwater as opposed to our high-alkaline tap water, so that helps our pH balance. Our higher dew point and humidity benefit our plants as much as the rainfall.
Our junipers are bursting with new growth, but I wait until late August or early September for even light pinching, and mid-October for more aggressive pruning. Our pinching should not extend to terminal buds, but rather to thinning out and plucking those shoots and sprouts between secondary and tertiary branches, in order to open up those areas to more sunlight. When we do approach terminal buds at the very end of our branch, if we want to shorten the length, we prune back to another side branch, to “redirect” this energy. Usually, we don’t see red spider mite on junipers with adequate rain, as they prefer hot and dry conditions. Potting should wait until November-February. Keep an eye out for other pests, such as powdery mildew and mold.
Pruning can now be done on other species, such as bougainvillea, natal plum, olive, ficus, Texas Ranger, Lantana, many others. Your crape myrtle should now be in bloom, and this is an ideal time in August to shop for one, as you can verify the color. The nurseries have portulacaria afra or “elephant food”, if you don’t have one. They need little additional water now, as the woody tissues and leaves are filled with water. Our program this Sunday will feature this succulent, and will be presented by Gay Lynn Goetzke. If you would like to bring in one of your specimens, you are invited to do so. Our mentors, Paul, Gabe, and I have many years’ experience with these plants, and they are easily propagated.
Don’t forget our raffle; bring some prizes, buy some tickets, or do both. See you there!