What to do this month - Stephen le Roux - March 2019

Submitted by williamdewitt on Sun, 03/03/2019 - 16:00

Temperatures are still high, days are dry and then you add the wind. Altogether this weather conditions dry out our bonsai at a very fast rate. Temperatures should start to cool down towards the end of March.

Make sure your trees are protected against the sun and heat and water your trees regularly. I water my trees in the morning and afternoon and on very hot days I also mist them in the middle of the day.

Some trees will start with their second growing season.

Trees will also start to put down wood in their branches, saving food for the winter months. Keep track of wire on your trees and be careful of wire bite. I’ve started to remove most of the wire from my Acacias, even thick branches seem to stay in their new positions. They were all wired around August.

Several of the older trees will not show any new growth. If the tree appears to be healthy don’t worry about the lack of growth. Trees like elms stop growing early in the year if you don’t prune them regularly.

This is an important time in keeping track of the development of your junipers (apex growth) as well as the pruning and development of your pines. If you follow the pruning methods of Ryan Neil and Peter Tea (i.e. you candle pruned your pine in December/January) then don’t feed them until the needles have hardened off. Feeding them now will only result in long needles and intermodal lengths)

Keep weeds under control as well as pests and diseases that thrive this time of the year. Look out for worms on figs. The worms are small and black and can defoliate a fig in a day.

Now is the time to enjoy your trees, work on deadwood, treat deadwood with lime sulfur, clean pots and display your trees for all visitors and friends.

Because there isn’t so much to be done, it’s a good time to work on your junipers. Spend some time on wiring them and planning their development.

Scratch around on the internet, books and fellow bonsai nuts’ collections and plan new ideas and bonsai for the next season. Go around and look at what you like (forest/cascade/leaning trunk/etc) and set yourself a challenge to create the bonsai that you always wanted. Then do some research on the particular subject (tree/style/method/etc.) and start looking for some stock to fit your design.

Keep to normal feeding programs feeding your trees on a monthly basis. Feeding this time of the year is very important. Trees will start to store food that will be used during the winter months and will be necessary to produce new growth in spring.

Do usual maintenance pruning, pinching back new growth and developing the tree.

Some Azaleas will be flowering this time of the year. The flowers will last longer if you don’t spray the flowers with water when watering your trees. Remove azalea flowers as soon as they start to fade.

Don’t prune azaleas and coleonema this time of the year. Trees that’s not flowering jet are in the process of developing the flower buds. Pruning them now will result in no flower.

Your crassula should be flowering. When the crassulla finished flowering it’s a good opportunity to cut it back hard and feed it. Crassulla push a lot of its energy into their flowers and usually look sick and neglected when finished flowering.

Also look out for signs of Thrip and woolly aphids 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 leafs of Olives. Spray your olives with a preventative spray for root rot. Long term poisons like Coinor only last around 6 months. So if you applied it during August it will not be effectively protecting your trees anymore.

Red spider mite seems to be a big problem this year. They have the ability to quickly build up a resistance to poisons. Make use of different poisons to control them. Adhere to instructions included with the poisons.

Ants are a sure sign of pests in your bonsai. They will carry aphids into your trees. Spray with a contact spray like Dyant or Rosecare.

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. Also start looking around for good compost and other ingredients for your soil mixtures so that in winter you know where to find the best soil for your trees.