CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – December 2021

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. 
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – November 2021

NOVEMBER    

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelsiusTemp. Min Celsius
November13,77010,323,613,0
POSITION The start of hot dry summer weather may be experienced, some trees may need to be moved to less sunny spots or, if necessary, put up shade cloth. Remember, trees need very bright light for photosynthesis to operate so if shade cloth is used do not use types that cut out excess light. 
WATERINGIf the trees are outdoors daily watering is required unless it rains. 
FERTILISINGContinue fertilising and feed flowering and fruiting bonsai with a fertiliser which is high in potassium such as 3: 1: 5.
DISEASE CONTROLPests are always around and a wary eye has to be kept out for them.
PRUNINGThe frantic growth of spring may have slowed down a bit but it is still necessary to nip and perhaps a critical eye may be used to revise and update designs of trees. Look very carefully to ensure that top branches are not becoming too heavy and so on. Sort out secondary branches and the fine networks of branchlets so that they do not become an entangled mess.
POTTINGThere is still time to pot many evergreens, watch the buds.
REMARKSVisit other bonsai growers’ collections and nurseries for inspiration. There is time for seed sowing and propagating by cuttings and air-layering.Clean-up, erect new benches… Do not be impatient but relax and enjoy everything you do as you do it.
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – October 2021

OCTOBER                                SPRING TIME! 

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelsiusTemp. Min Celsius
October32,7748,921,210,6
POSITION Early spring! All or nearly all deciduous plants are out in leaf, the soft new foliage is a delight. We normally still experience rain and some cool weather is still around. Days are definitely less cloudy and longer. The drying south-east wind has not started seriously but be careful of hot dry days.  
WATERINGDaily watering of outdoor bonsai may be required unless it rains.
FERTILISINGThis is the time of year when advantage must be taken of good strong growth and from now on feeding should be regular and conscientiously carried out. Trees put on girth and wiring must be carefully watched lest scars develop.
DISEASE CONTROLPests are starting to enjoy life and may be decimating bonsai. Judicious control needs to be exercised. Some pests are not easy to see or identify. If a tree is not looking “right” ask for help.  
PRUNINGNipping and feeding is what is done now, it may seem a contradiction to feed and then to nip most of the new growth off but that is the way to build up a fine structure of small branchlets and achieve detail design. 
POTTINGMany evergreens may be potted now. Watch for swollen buds. The correct time is usually when buds are swollen but before the leaves unfurl. An exception may be figs it is far too early to pot them.  
REMARKSIn our area the weather may be unfriendly with cold wind and rain but it is spring and when the weather is nice take the opportunity of collecting moss and stones for use with bonsai. It is also a good time to collect potential bonsai from the wild as long as the appropriate permission has been sought, have respect for the ecology. 
This is a very good time to plant seeds and to take cuttings
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Things to do in Cape Town – September 2021

SEPTEMBER   

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
Sept41,7777,719,28,7
POSITION Still cold, rainy and windy but the signs of spring are emerging and buds are swelling. Some trees are well into new leaf.
WATERINGWater if it does not rain for a few days. Wind causes evaporation even on really cold days.
FERTILISINGAs deciduous trees come into leaf they will benefit from light feeds. Evergreens that show signs of growth may also be fed lightly. Growth stimulants may be used but remember that they are not substitutes for fertiliser. After the heavy rains of winter nutrients have been leached out of the small quantity of soil in bonsai pots. Bonsai are dependant on feeding. 
DISEASE CONTROLPests, especially sucking mites and some fungi are active, take steps to control if necessary before they debilitate a bonsai.
PRUNINGAllow the soft branchlets on deciduous trees to extend to about seven leaves and then prune back to 2 leaves. This is a vital exercise to build up a fine network of small branchlets (ramification).
POTTINGIt is best to wait until next month for potting evergreens but some deciduous trees which are not yet in leaf may be judiciously potted. 
REMARKSAn exciting time of the year for bonsai enthusiasts as new growth appears. It’s a good time to spring clean and tidy up. Do not be discouraged by the odd storm which causes a mess, look upon the clean-up as a relaxing and therapeutic exercise. Remove spent blossoms on winter flowering bonsai such as azaleas. The production of seed takes a lot out of a small bonsai.
CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai things to do in Cape Town – August 2021

AUGUST 

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
August73,7796,717,87,4
POSITION Still wet, cold, windy and dark but beneath the gloom sap is rising and potting is hectic. Finish potting deciduous trees this month and add acacias to the list.
WATERINGLittle watering required but be wary of consecutive dry days. Check drainage holes in pots and if trees are not draining properly lift them up and place coarse gravel under them. 
FERTILISINGIt is still very early to apply feeds but growth stimulants such as Superthrive may be used. Once growth commences fertilisers may be used.
DISEASE CONTROLPests are waking up and whilst humans are still reluctant to go outdoors pests may be damaging little trees. Take the necessary precautions. 
PRUNINGPruning may now be carried out freely, stimulating growth by pruning on both deciduous and evergreens are useful.
POTTINGDeciduous trees may still be potted but take care with evergreens it is still too cold for them. Only pot when the onset of growth is obvious. 
REMARKSAugust days are longer but temperatures are still lower than in June. This area is still in winter, so take care not to do things best left to spring. 

SUISEKI AND PENJINGThe weather is conducive to collecting rocks as SUISEKI or for creating PENJING. It is also very healthy both physically and mentally to get outdoors and to enjoy a special closeness with nature.

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 – July 2021

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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CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – June 2021

What to do in June 2021

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 1 litre, 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 Copper Oxychloride WP 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.

·      Time to reassess the design of your deciduous bonsai, transition your branches from thick to 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 in 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 in April

APRIL  
Month Mean Rainfall mm Rel.  Humidity % Daily Sun­shine Hrs Temp. Max Celcius Temp. Min Celcius
April 55,5 76 7,8 22,8 11,8
POSITION  Early autumn and a delightful time of year and some showers may be expected. The sun is no longer so fierce and days are getting shorter.
WATERING Bonsai tend to dry out and watering is still a priority.
FERTILISING Fertilising has to be done diligently if bonsai are to thrive and also to promote autumn colours.
DISEASE CONTROL Pests are active and control is necessary.
PRUNING Maintenance pruning may be done this month.
POTTING Nearly all evergreens can be safely potted at this time of the year with post potting recovery usually good.
REMARKS As the days get shorter and the weather is milder it is a lovely time to be in the garden.