Winter is here. It’s getting colder and the rain season started (Cape Town) with lots of wind and rain.
For those that are not sure about their trees keep in mind that deciduous trees (Acacias, Maples, Swamps, elms and White stinkwoods) will lose their leaves. Tropical trees like Figs will also lose a lot of their leaves. Some trees can lose their leaves earlier than others. This is influenced by defoliation, position (warm protected areas, indoors, outdoors), pruning as well as disease.
Keep a watchful eye on your trees. Even though it’s raining a lot, there are still dry spells in which trees can dry out. Even though some of your trees may be dormant they still need water to survive. See that trees standing in protected areas, like patio’s etc, get enough water. Often placing trees near or next to your house to protect them from the wind can result in them not getting any rain and they will dry out.
Protect your trees from the wind. Strong winds can blow your trees of the shelves, breaking of branches and damaging pots.
Make sure that your bonsai pots drain properly. Often the drainage holes can get blocked by snails (remove them from the drainage hole) or by the activities of earthworms breaking down the organic matter in your soil mix (use a stick to open the drainage hole without disturbing the roots). If your pots don’t drain properly tilt the pot and place something under it to help drain water from the pot.
Don’t feed deciduous trees but evergreens showing growth can be fed. You can feed your pines.
Do not prune any of the deciduous trees yet. Pruning can be done from the end of the month if you got a lot of trees and need to extend your potting and pruning period. Rather wait till early July before pruning. Trees need their rest and by pruning them too early you place them under unnecessary stress. Pruning deciduous trees now will cause the trees to start pushing new buds that will only weaken the tree before they will stop developing or even die off during the winter. The tree will also not get enough rest and this can cause smaller branches to die back.
Remove dead leaves from your pots. They only create a place for bugs and diseases to hide.
You can now needle pluck, design and prune your Japanese black Pines.
Junipers can be wired pruned and styled. Now’s a good time to do large bends on Junipers. Wrap brunches with raffia to protect them during the bending process.
Do not pot any trees at this stage. Start preparing your soil mix for the repotting season. Do a bit of research on soil mixtures so that when repotting season starts you can be prepared to make informed decisions when potting your trees and you can make corrections to trees that needed a change in their soil mixtures. Early next month you can start with potting swamps, white stinkwoods and elms.
Remove moss from trees with soft bark, like cork bark elms, acacia etc. Leaving the moss on the trunks will cause the bark to rot. Also remove moss from the soil. Moss retains a lot of moisture in the soil which can cause root rot on trees like olives. Moss can be killed by spraying it with vinegar and then carefully removing it with tweezers.
Be careful when you wire trees this time of the year. Branches are very brittle and can break easily. So be careful when bending branches.
Deciduous trees that already lost their leaves can be sprayed with diluted lime sulfur. Mix the lime sulfur with water in a ratio of 1 part lime sulfur to 30 parts water. Spraying deciduous trees with lime sulfur while they are dormant will kill off unwanted pests and their eggs as well as other diseases. Cover unglazed pots when you spray the trees with something like glad wrap to prevent the lime sulfur from staining these pots. Repeat the spray after 10 days.
Spray your olives with a preventative spray for root rot.
Start shopping around for new potential bonsai stock. Most of the trees in nurseries already stopped developing and are only putting down hard wood, increasing their trunks. Shop around to be first to find the best stock.
Remove your trees from the shelves and clean them of old leaves and dirt and you can also disinfect them with a strong Jeyes fluid mix. Place it in a spray can and spray the benches with it. Only replace your trees on the bench after the smell has faded.
Some trees like Azaleas will flower from middle to end of June. Remember to remove spent flowers.
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