Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 2010


Hi to all the new recipients of the newsletter, hope you enjoy its contents. The purpose of the newsletter is to keep you updated on any events, sales and hopefully to inspire you to go further with your beloved art of Bonsai!


Defoliating is the term used to describe the removal of all foliage. This is only done on broadleaf varieties. Trees such as figs, maples etc are ideal for this.

This is practiced in bonsai for a few reasons. By removing the foliage, the tree goes to work developing new leaves to keep the process of work happening in the plant. The tree cant survive without leaves.

One of the reasons for doing this is that it will increase branch ramification, (more branching and sub-branching) as there is more light allowed inside the tree. This stimulates growth on dormant buds back along the existing branches.

The second reason is leaf size. By cutting all the leaves of, the tree will prematurely produce new leaves which will be reduced in size. This is one of the other aspects we are trying to create in bonsai, small leaves.

Now a word of warning, (or 2) don’t do this to sick trees, it will put them under to much stress, and they may die. Also do this only in December as this is the optimum time for the tree to produce new leaves, left to late and the tree may not be able to produce new leaves if the temperatures drop. Again you may lose your tree. When you cut the leaf stem cut it just above the joint between branch and stem, and always use sharp scissors!!

Its worth mentioning here about the use of clean sharp tools.

Have a go this December, and watch the results. Remember to back of on the watering as they will not be transpiring as before, feel the soil before watering each time.


The reason it is so important to have sharp cutting tools is that when you cut a branch/branchlet, that the cut is clean, with no ragged edges. If you were to look at a cut nade with a blunt pair of scissors, or side cutters etc, you would notice that although it has caused separation, the cut would be jagged and the stem crushed back up from the cut. This creates a couple of problems, 1 it will cause die back along the branch and 2 it will make the branch more susceptible to disease.

This is the reason that better quality steel tools are used. The better the quality the steel, the better the cutting edge will remain sharp, and will actually be sharper because of the hardness of the steel.

I encourage people to plan the purchase of tools, they don’t all have to be bought at once but as the budget allows. If looked after, these quality will last a lifetime.

They old adage is true “you get what you pay for”

We have some Chinese scissors in stock at the moment that I have been using for the past 5 months. The are of very good quality and I am really happy with their performance. They are slightly cheaper than the Japanese scissors and I think they are slightly better quality.

These are not to be confused with the cheaper quality Chinese tools.


The need for fertilizing at the moment is twofold.

1. With all the heavy rain, your soil will “leach” out all the nutrients. In other woprds the fertilizer you have (read should) been using will be washed out of the mix by the constant flow of rain. It will need to be replaced, whether it is slow realease or liquid.

2. The other reason is to keep up the nutrients that your tree requires under such ideal growing conditions. To have rain in the evening then sun during the day creates a very moist atmosphere which enhances growth.

I have been mowing every 2 days! There is a relatively short window for this type of rapid growth, don’t miss it.

It is important to understand the working of your fertilizers.

I have gone away from chemical fertilizers as I believe they can kill good organisms in the soil, and produce rank growth because of their high nitrogen content. This may look good initially but if you are just getting new leaf growth and not root growth, you will be stressing your tree. Also as I said by introducing chemicals constantly to your soil, you are creating an unhealthy environment for your tree. Unhealthy soil, unhealthy tree, and you invite all the bugs as this is what they will attack first, a weak tree.

As some of you may know, I use and sell healthy earth fertilizer. I am extremely happy with it, my trees have never been so healthy.

This is a completely organic based fertilizer feeding the whole tree, and doesn’t sterilize the soil. Also with this heat it is good to mix a bit of concentrated liquid seaweed with it. I have really watched some stock really struggle with heat stress. We really didn’t get a spring this year, just bang, straight into summer.


The annual Gold Coast Tweed Bonsai Club will be happening on the weekend of the 13th and 14th of November. This show is always fantastic! Chris Dinola will be doing demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday at 11.00 am.

This is a great way to be inspired and enthused, talk with other bonsai fanatics, and get new ideas for your trees. There is always some great stuff to buy.

I find shows like this really re-energize me, as I always go home with fresh ideas and insights. There is always plenty of people on hand to offer advice and suggestions

You are also able to join the club, or get details regarding its operation and meetings.

The price for admission is only $5, kids free.

It is held at the Robina Community Centre, Robina drive, next to the library.

Hours are 9.00 to 4.00 Saturday and Sunday.

Happy bonsai-ing

Chris and Sam

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