Monday, October 18, 2010

September 2010

Once again welcome to all the new readers of the newsletter. The growth of the popularity of bonsai never ceases to amaze me!

After months of no movement, no growth, everything is springing into new colour and growth. Some trees are a little late this year, a few of my liquid ambers have still not burst bud as of yet, whilst others are growing as you watch them.


All this new growth presents us with lots of opportunities. If allowed to grow feely your tree will probably lose its shape very quickly. The answer to this is obviously trimming and pruning.

Before I go any further, I will explain a method of creating thicker trunks on your trees during this increase in growth.

By allowing a branch which is either low to the ground, or even in the apex, to grow unhindered for a year or so without trimming, will create a much thicker trunk. This really is common sense, obviously the bigger a tree grows, the thicker the trunk required to support it. You can even take it out of its pot, put it in a nursery pot, or box, and whilst keeping aspects of the tree in shape, allow this new branch to extend.

The usual name for this branch is a “sacrifice branch”. The reason for this is that the branch is never intended to be a pert of the tree, but is grown to create thickness, and is later ”sacrificed”. Wherever the branch is left on, all below it will thicken. So if you just want to thicken the base choose a branch low down, if you want to thicken the whole trunk, choose a branch in the apex.

Now to shaping.

Different types of trees require different techniques when trimming.

Leafy varieties differ to junipers in the way we cut them. With trees like elms, figs privets etc, we can fairly freely snip away with our scissors, even cutting through the leaves in places with no ill effect. Many trees once they become thick, are cut just like a hedge. Once the clouds are created, just a trimming to keep the cloud shape is all that is needed.

Junipers on the other hand, are treated differently. If you were to just cut away with the scissors, within a week you will have a half brown, half green tree.

The reason for this is that most junipers grow in what is known as “whorls” This is where all the buds grow out at a single point, whereas most “leaf” trees grow either opposing or alternate buds.

So with the junipers, it is important to “pinch out the new growth to continue to encourage new growth which will produce your cloud like foliage pads.

Now if you look closely at a small part of your juniper that has been pinched out, you will see that the stem is made up of little scale like sheaves. This is where the dormant buds. Between 2-6 new buds will shoot from this point. After allowing them to grow say 20mm they are then pinched back and each of these will produce 2-6 more buds and so on.

If these are allowed to grow to long, die back will occur underneath where the sun or light is not getting to. If this has happened you will need to cut through these stems with scissors, or cutters. The whole pad should not be much thicker than 25mm or so.

The important thing to be doing at this time is pushing growth by fortnightly fertilizing. More growth, more trimming, more fertilizing, will develop your tree. Fertilizing is best done with little more often. We use recommend and sell “Healthy Earth fertilizer in both the slow release, and liquid. I should mention that at this time your tree needs maximum sun, but don’t forget to keep up the moisture. Junipers don’t like to be wet all the time, so let them become nearly dry.

Now your leafy varieties need trimming in different ways. You need to trim your branches to produce more branches. By trimming a tree, the hormone that is in the growing tip is gone therefore the tree will produce new buds further back down the branch. This is what we are after. Always cut 5-10 mm in front of the last bud. The reason for this is so as the last bud is not damaged. You can always go back later and cut of any little stubs. If you cut

to closely you may get die back and lose the bud you wanted for growth in that direction. Always cut to the direction that you want the branch to grow in. Allow the, new shoot to lignify (harden) before you cut it back.

KEEPING CLEAN!! Cleanliness is vital for the well being and health of your trees. This means keeping your growing area free from weeds (in pots as well as under your benches) and also your tools.

We would never use a instrument used on somebody and then use it on ourselves because of the danger of cross infection.

This means cleaning your tools clean (as well as keeping them sharp, as blunt tools will tear leaving damaged ends which are more likely to become infected) and free from rust and sap.

There is a product called “Crean mate” (yes I know bit of a giggle, a slight oversight in the Japanese translation) this block is a rubberized abrasive piece used for cleaning the blades of all your tools. The one I use is probably 5 years old so they do last quite a long time.

We are selling more and more of these now as people are becoming more aware of the need for clean tools. Often this comes about after seemingly “unexplainable” die back on a tree.

Well hope some of this information helps you, but remember to let me know some suggestions on what you would like to read.

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