What to do in January
(There is no copyright on this article. Please feel free to copy it. Keep in mind it’s written with the Western Cape weather in mind.)
Summer is here and the days are hot, warm and windy. The wind will cause bonsai to dry out very quickly. Take good care when watering your trees and, when you decide to hide inside from the heat, do remember that your trees are still outside and need water. In the heat, together with the wind you can lose your favorite bonsai within a few hours. Do try and water twice a day. Also misting your trees during the day will help to cool them down and keep the soil moist. (I still need to see any damage due to watering in the heat of the day caused by water drops on the leaves!)
You will find that the trees are developing slower during this time of the year. This will give you time to catch up on your bonsai work. Do keep track of wiring on your trees. The branches thicken rapidly and can cause wire bite.
You may find that trees like maples will have dry edges on their leaves. Don’t worry about it. It’s caused by the high temperatures and the wind damaging the leaves.
Keep to normal feeding programs feeding your trees on a monthly basis.
Pest and diseases may be found less frequent due to the low humidity but do keep a lookout for them and control when necessary.
Mame trees can be placed on humidity trays. This can be made from drip trays filled with river sand or gravel. Put enough water in the drip tray to the level of the gravel/sand. Then place the mame on the gravel. Do not let the pot stand in the water. If the pot is placed in the water it will cause root rot on the mame. The idea is for the water in the drip tray to form a more humid environment around the tree. Several mame can be placed on the same drip tray.
Maples and White Stinkwood can still be defoliated. This will help to replace leafs damaged by the wind, will force the tree to produce smaller leaves and also give you the opportunity to work on your development of the tree, prune unwanted branches and wire were necessary. Just remember that if you decide to defoliate a tree to reduce the size of the leaves, do not feed the tree for at least two months after defoliation. Feeding it will have the result of bigger leaves. Do not defoliate a tree that’s not healthy. When your tree start to push new leaves (around two weeks after defoliation), place the tree in an area protected from the wind, or the leaves again will get damaged.
Figs can still be repotted.
Do usual maintenance pruning, pinching back new growth and developing the tree.
Also look out for signs of Thrip on your Wild Olives. On the first sign of marks on the Olive leafs spray your trees. Look for white fly on the underside of the leaves of Olives. Spray your olives with a preventative spray for root rot.
Prune Elms by constantly pruning the new growth back to 2 to 4 leafs. Make also use of the clip and grow method to develop the tree. Remove unwanted growth on your Elms. Choose the branches that you need to develop on new trees and remove the rest.
Weeds also tend to grow fast this time of the year and can become a problem.
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