December

The Study Group

 

A reminder for new study group members and seasoned study group members.

 

The intended purpose of the study group is for us all to learn more about bonsai and take home skills that we can apply to our own trees.  I am here to help guide you (not do it for you) in the process of learning bonsai and exploring the possibilities.  You have a voice in the process too!  I will let you know my thoughts but I’d like to hear your thoughts and plans as well.  The only expectations I have of the participants is an open mind and an eagerness to learn.  Give me that and I will teach you everything I know!

 

All in all, at the end of the day, we should all be having FUN doing Bonsai.

The Big Freeze

 

For some of us, December is a time when temperatures can dip below freezing. It's not as common but not something we should ignore.  Freezing temperatures can be dangerous to our trees especially if they are stressed (weak, or worked on recently).  It is important to recognize trees that are stressed and protect them when we know it is going to freeze.  Just like in the Summer when we protect trees from the hard sun, we do the same during the Winter months.

 

There are many different variety of trees that we work with in Bonsai.  Some can take high temperatures and some can take vary low temperatures.  Become familiar with the temperature ranges of your trees and the type of climate they like to grow in.  Once you understand your tree species, you can take the necessary steps in keeping them growing well.

 

Since we are growing trees for Bonsai in Bonsai pots, there are special considerations we have to take as well.  Trees growing in a confined space don’t grow as vigorous and may need more protection then trees growing in the ground.  Also, because of the nature of how we grow our bonsai (slow, small refined branches), they will not be able to tolerate the elements as well as a full grown tree.

 

Example:  In Nagoya, Japan, it can get very hot in the Summer.  The weather can reach 100 degrees with 70-90 percent humidity.  Vigorous Trident Maples are left out in the full sun and grow fine.  Usually these trees are younger and not as refined.  The refined Trident Maples need to be under 50 percent shade cloth or they will burn or loose branches.

 

So why is that?

 

Since refined Trident Maples are usually older and have smaller than normal branch thickness (twiggy branches), they can not handle the heat and direct sun.  In Bonsai, we’re not just shrinking the tree, but all of it’s components to keep the tree looking proportionate and to scale.

Keeping an Eye on the Temperature

 

For the rest of the Winter, the temperatures will fluctuate up and down like always in California.  There will be more freezing temperatures to comes and for some of you, it’s the case every night.  Be sure to keep up with the weather report and to take the necessary steps to protect your trees if needed.

 

Bonsai pots can also break if the soil is compacted and root bound in the pot.  Be sure to keep the soil on the dryer side to help in preventing the pot from breaking if you know the temperature is going to drop below 32 degrees.  Try to water during the day at not too late at night.

 

What to Work on this Month

Any Tree that is:

1. Bushy

2. Runners

3. Foliage has hardened off

Since Deciduous trees don't have foliage at this time of year, look for Bushiness and Runners.

Things that will be done on the trees:

Wiring (copper for Conifers and aluminum for Leafy Evergreens)

Styling

Cutting

Cleaning

 

If you are planning on doing any of the above, please be sure to bring the proper tools and materials such as wire (copper), basic tools for cutting and repotting and a well rested brain.

 

Re-potting

 

If you are in an area that doesn’t experience freezing temperatures at night, December is a time that you can start repotting trees.  Start with strong healthy deciduous trees first then move on to your conifers.  If the tree is weak or stress, don’t take any chances and repot closer to Spring when the temperatures are higher.

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