CategoriesWhat to do monthly

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town – July


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
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 – May


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
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


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
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


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
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


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
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


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
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


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelsiusTemp. Min Celsius
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


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelsiusTemp. Min Celsius
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

OCTOBER                                SPRING TIME! 

MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelsiusTemp. Min Celsius
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

Bonsai things to do in Cape Town – September


MonthMean Rainfall mmRel.  Humidity %Daily Sun­shine HrsTemp. Max CelciusTemp. Min Celcius
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.