CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – July

JULY 

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
July96,9816,217,47,1
POSITION The shortest day has passed and days are getting longer but only marginally. The same remarks apply as for June. 
WATERINGThe water table is high and frequent rains and dull days often mean wet condi­tions but, take care! A few dry days and bonsai could suffer. The winds are strong and frequent, shelter delicate trees and pots! Ensure that pots drain correctly.  
FERTILISINGNo point in fertilising this month – temperatures are too low. 
DISEASE CONTROLSnails and slugs are busy, use appropriate bait. Fungus spores may be active during wet humid conditions. It is never cold enough in our area to kill spores of fungus effectively.  Spray with fungicides if necessary. 
PRUNINGWinter prune and design prune deciduous trees. 
POTTINGThis is a really busy potting month for most deciduous trees such as Celtis, Ulmus, Acer, Taxodium, Betula, Carpinus, Wisteria and Malus. Visit a nursery for soil and pot supplies. It is always preferable to take a tree for which a pot is to be chosen to the pot supplier for direct selection. 
REMARKSA month when enthusiasm is sometimes at a low ebb but soon sap will be rising. Enjoy exchanging views with like minded people and reading books and maybe even surfing the web on Bonsai and related topics. 

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CategoriesHow to Care for Bonsai

How to Care for your Bonsai

How to care for your Bonsai

Years of loving care have gone into creating a bonsai. With a few minutes of daily attention, it will develop, improve and give you a great deal of pleasure for many years.

If you have acquired a healthy and well-established bonsai, there are six golden rules for maintaining it.

POSITION 

OUTDOORS

  • Bonsai are easier to care for if kept outdoors and they do better outside.
  • The tree should receive 3 to 4 hours of morning sun.
  • Bonsai may be brought indoors in the evenings or for a few days in order to display them.  If returning them outdoors after a few days inside, put them in the shade initially.

INDOORS

  • Wild figs, brush cherry, Chinese snow rose are some of those making good indoor bonsai.
  • Bonsai need to be placed where they receive direct sunlight but not against the window, allow 30 centimeters from the glass. Afternoon sun can be very hot, watch that your bonsai does not burn.
  • Keep an eye out for pests as they are susceptible due to lack of air movement. 

WATERING  

Incorrect watering is the commonest cause of the demise of bonsai. Good sound common sense is needed. Trees should not remain bone dry for longer than 8 hours, equally well, soil should not remain sodden. 

OUTDOORS

  • In summer daily watering is required.
  • Trees must be thoroughly watered and water should be allowed to run out of the drainage holes. 
  • Occasionally trees may be dunked in deep water for a few minutes.
  • In the winter rainfall region: Trees do not use as much water in winter as in summer.  If there is no rain, water 2 or 3 times per week.  

INDOORS

  • Water 3 to 4 times per week depending on the temperature of the room.
  • Create a humid environment by placing the bonsai pot on a tray filled with pebbles, water running through the drainage holes will dissipate between pebbles and create humidity. N.B. On no account should the pot stand in water for any length of time. 
  • Keep foliage dust free with hose or mist spray.     

FERTILISING

  • Feed deciduous trees once a month in growing season with Hortisol, take a break in mid-winter for a few months.
  • Fertilize evergreen trees once a month throughout the year.
  • Flowering and fruiting trees; August to June once a month with Hortisol or 3:1:5.
  • Follow instructions on package carefully in order not to damage bonsai. Do not fertilise ailing trees.  The dilution ratio for Hortisol is on the wrap around label on the bottle which you need to peel off.

DISEASE AND PEST CONTROL

PRUNING

  • Due to the fact that you are supplying the tree with all its requirements viz. light, water and fertilizer it will periodically grow and this new growth should be trimmed to keep the tree in pleasing shape. 
  • Bonsai continue to grow and should improve for the first few hundred years of their lives. 
  • An important aspect of their development is the formation of a fine network of small branchlets. This is called ramification. In order to achieve this ramification, the soft new growth needs to be frequently nipped back. Through this nipping back of the tips of branchlets the development of new and maybe, even extra little branchlets are encouraged. 
  • Due to this process reduction of leaf size will also occur. On a number of species of trees, the first leaf on a new branchlet is smaller than the subsequent ones, therefore, that if the branchlet is cut off after this little leaf, subsequent leaves will be even smaller.
  • The top of the tree (apex) and the end of branches grow faster than others. If these ends are not continuously controlled by nipping or pruning there will be thicker branches at the top than at the bottom of the tree, instead of the other way around which would be correct. It is vitally important that the top of the tree is meticulously controlled and maintained. In addition, the upper branch networks should be thinned out and/or removed to prevent lower branches being deprived of light, a lack of which will cause them to weaken. 
  • Branches that emerge from the trunk of the tree are called primary branches. Those that emerge from the primary branches are secondary branches, those that emerge from the secondary branches are tertiary – the entire structure is referred to as the branch network. 
  • When branch networks are viewed from above, they should conform – broadly speaking to the overall shape of the tree when it is viewed from the front. This means that those secondary branches nearer the trunk should be longer than those at the end of the primary branch – they should be progressively shorter.
  • As a rough guide, branches growing directly upwards or downwards should be wired laterally or radically shortened. Generally, there should be spaces between branch networks. See the section in our manual; CREATE YOUR OWN BONSAI by Lionel Théron, which refers to branch placement and shapes of branch networks (pages 26 – 29).  The manual is available for purchase in the nursery. 

RE-POTTING

When you purchase your tree from us you are given a care sheet with a repotting date, the time of year for repotting is limited to certain seasons or months, so if you miss your approximate time you need to wait until the following year. Bonsai should be repotted every 2-3 years but not necessarily into a bigger pot.

CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai things to do in Cape Town in June

June is the start of a very busy period for bonsai, with many time sensitive activities:

·      Clean and disinfect your benches.

·      Remove dead leaves from pots and under benches as they encourage re-infestation of Summer’s pests, put down bait for slugs and snails.

·      Check that drainage holes are clear and that your pot is draining properly if not angle it on a wooden block making sure it is secure, and then correct the problem in Spring.

·      Spray Lime Sulphur twice, at weekly intervals, 35ml per 1litre, cover unglazed pots I don’t spray my evergreens as some people do, because I don’t like the awful colouring the lime sulphur tends to leave on the trees. I prefer to use Rosecare, Seizer + Eco Oil, Koinor or Plant Care.

·      If you develop Black Algae on your soil surface WP Copper Oxychloride works well without killing the moss.

·      Don’t let moss get anywhere near acacia, pine or cork bark elm trunks.

·      Time to shoot select and needle pluck multi flush pines and embark on a feeding program to build them up before candle pruning in December. Adelgids and mites seem very prevalent. I use the chemicals mentioned above in point 4.

·      Time to reassess the design of your deciduous bonsai, transition your branches from thick too thin to give you better taper, remove unnecessary growth, wire carefully.

·      Dead head azaleas (once the flowers have died remove them).

·      Check watering, Bonsai are extremely sensitive to drought and cold.

·      Potting time is soon here so gather all you may need and prepare your soil mixture.

CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai things to do in Cape Town – May

MAY  

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
May76,7806,3209,5
POSITION Some showers and cooler weather are on the way. Some bonsai may have to be moved into sunnier spots or shade cloth may have to be removed.
WATERINGAs usual watering needs to be watched, especially if the weather is cool and overcast but no rain has actually fallen.
FERTILISINGThis is the last opportunity for feeding as with lower temperatures and shorter days plants do not take up much in the way of nutrients.
DISEASE CONTROLMany pests are going into hibernation but snails and slugs are active.
PRUNINGDo not prune deciduous plants as stimulating growth is undesirable in winter, plants need a rest period.
POTTINGToo late for autumn potting and too early for deciduous trees. 
REMARKSA balmy month as a rule and the last chance to mix soil in reasonably dry conditions. Mosses are starting to appear remember to leave small pieces when collecting so that regeneration takes place.  
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai things to do in Cape Town – May

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
May76,7806,3209,5
POSITION Some showers and cooler weather are on the way. Some bonsai may have to be moved into sunnier spots or shade cloth may have to be removed.
WATERINGAs usual watering needs to be watched, especially if the weather is cool and overcast but no rain has actually fallen.
FERTILISINGThis is the last opportunity for feeding as with lower temperatures and shorter days plants do not take up much in the way of nutrients.
DISEASE CONTROLMany pests are going into hibernation but snails and slugs are active.
PRUNINGDo not prune deciduous plants as stimulating growth is undesirable in winter, plants need a rest period.
POTTINGToo late for autumn potting and too early for deciduous trees. 
REMARKSA balmy month as a rule and the last chance to mix soil in reasonably dry conditions. Mosses are starting to appear remember to leave small pieces when collecting so that regeneration takes place.  
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – April

APRIL  

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
April55,5767,822,811,8
POSITION Early autumn and a delightful time of year; some showers may be expected. The sun is no longer so fierce and days are getting shorter. 
WATERINGBonsai tend to dry out and watering is still a priority.
FERTILISINGFertilising has to be done diligently if bonsai are to do well and to promote autumn colours.
DISEASE CONTROLPests are active and control is necessary. 
PRUNINGMaintenance pruning may be done this month.
POTTINGNearly all evergreens and figs can be safely potted at this time of the year. Post potting recovery is usually good.
REMARKSAs the days get shorter and the weather is milder it is an agreeable time to be in the garden.

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CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – March

MARCH  

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
March22,1739,525,314,2
POSITION Days are clearly getting shorter but it is still hot and mostly dry although we may have a shower now and again if we are fortunate.
WATERINGThe bonsai grower’s most important task is correct watering.
FERTILISINGLate summer is a vital time to feed so that bonsai remain healthy and strong and so that they build energy to enable them to flower and store carbohydrates for winter.
DISEASE CONTROLPests are very active and there are more and more types appearing as countries borders become easier to cross see remarks made in February.
PRUNINGWatch the apex of trees, they tend to become too heavy and are the easiest part of a bonsai to neglect as far as pruning and shaping is concerned. Design and maintenance should be a priority.   
POTTINGA number of plants may be potted in late summer or early autumn and recovery, aided by Superthrive is usually efficient. This is also a good time for propagation. Dip cuttings in Dip-n-grow before rooting in a mixture of vermiculite and perlite.  
REMARKSA good time for bonsai and those responsible for their maintenance. Prepare soils mixes as once the wet weather sets in it is difficult and unpleasant to work with soggy soil and compost. 
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – February

FEBRUARY  

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
Feb18,07110,626,315,5
POSITION This is the hottest month in our area and rain is very unlikely. Winds are infrequent but when they come they are very drying and blow what little humidity there may be away. Days are long. Long cool drinks and chats are the best way to spend evenings.
WATERINGWatering is the most vital job right now and forgetting, even for one day may be fatal! 
FERTILISINGIt is now very important to fertilise with nitrogenous fertiliser in order for trees to build up a good store of carbohydrates (energy producing sugars). This stored energy enables plants to put on good vigorous growth in spring and prevents die-back of small branchlets.
DISEASE CONTROLPests are particularly active so be observant. If a tree looks unhappy and if you do not know what is wrong seek help. Mites are active, they love still air.
PRUNINGMaintenance pruning should be kept up to date as in the next few months it may not be advisable to prune vigorously for fear of stimulating growth in winter. It is now still mid-summer. 
POTTINGFigs and a few other evergreens may be potted if the day is not too hot. If it is absolutely necessary to pot a deciduous tree de-foliate it first.  
REMARKSThis month and the next are the best time to take holidays in the Western Cape the weather is mostly rather settled and warm, good weather for outdoors. Look for stones and collect soil and compost for your mixes ready for autumn potting which comes round from March to May.  Go on a suiseki hunt, rivers are often running low and stones may be exposed. 
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – January

     JANUARY  

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
Jan11,67011,12615,7
POSITION Long, hot, windy days, trees need protection & must not be allowed to dry out. 
WATERINGHumidity is low, mist and place containers of water between trees to increase humidity. Trees that dry out may suffer leaf burn and die if left dry for too long. Watch watering carefully.
FERTILISINGSome trees, such as maples suffer from a combination of drying wind and build up of sodium in the soil which makes it difficult for them to take up moisture. Try sprinkling a small amount of gypsum on the soil and water well. All the watering causes’ nutrients to leach out of the soil so fertilise regularly. Fertilise flowering plants with 3:1:5.  
DISEASE CONTROLIf trees are stressed use Superthrive in small doses to help them cope. Pests and diseases may be slightly less prevalent during these low humidity days but watch for them anyway and spray as necessary.
PRUNINGMaintenance pruning and nipping needs to be kept up and wiring may be done but watch lest branches thicken and cause wire scars. Strong growing and healthy deciduous bonsai may be de-foliated early this month to encourage a second growth season and to reduce leaf size. 
POTTINGFigs may be potted now but it is too hot for most species to be potted.
REMARKSA nice time of the year to get out and about, collect stones and rocks and even compost and gravel for mixing soils. Mosses mostly look unhappy during this time of year due to low humidity. Try to mist spray bonsai often. 
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – December

DECEMBER                                                        

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelsiusTemp. Min Celsius
Dec13,97010,825,114,9
POSITION The sun is high and the days are long, humidity is very low so trees may have to be moved to partial shade. It is kind to most bonsai if the ambient humidity could be increased by placing dishes or water around or by keeping ground under the benches damp. Misting is an ideal way of increasing moisture in the air.
WATERINGFrequent south-east winds blow during December drying bonsai out. A few hours of totally dry roots is enough to kill a tree, so this watering is a vital daily task. 
FERTILISINGConstant watering leaches nutrients out of the soil and they need to be replaced. Do not feed totally dry trees, water them before applying fertilisers. 
DISEASE CONTROLWatch for insect pests and diseases, they do not take holidays, use appropriate measures. Remember it is normally inadvisable to mix pesticides together due to possible chemical reactions. Mix only as much pesticide or fertiliser as you can use at once, many chemicals, once mixed oxidise and may become harmful.
PRUNINGMaintenance pruning and nipping should be carried out this month. Some design pruning and wiring may also be done.
POTTINGThe only trees that may be potted are wild figs. If very little root disturbance is required trees may be transferred to other pots.
REMARKSThis is show time and holidays. Enjoy both and visit bonsai friends.