Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 2011


After all this growth from the recent rains, be sure to check your trees which have been wired, to make sure the wire hasn’t begin to cut in. What is happening is that the branches are thickening up with the new growth, but the wire doesn’t expand. The end result can be nasty spiral scarring on your branches. On some trees this can be worse because they are softer. Trees such as azaleas, camellias, maples etc, mark very easy, and in the case of maples, very quickly (within 3 – 4 weeks!)

Obviously this is a problem if you are trying to grow the branch, but have to remove the wire every month or so, yet the branch has not set.

One of the ways around this is to use raphia. Raphia is a natural reed type product that is available in places like Spotlight (ask the wife!). It comes in strands and looks like flattened grass. What you do is soak the raphia for 30 minutes or so in cold water, then wrap the branch you intend wiring. You will need about 3 strands to make it thick enough to cover your branch. It is then wrapped around the branch quite tightly.

After doing this, wire the branch as normal. This should give you a bit more protection.

Another use for raphia is when you have a large branch you want to bend past a position that it would normally be capable of. By wrapping the branch with raphia, it is a lot less likely to break. Even if it does, it will probably hold the branch in position until it has healed. Sometimes you can bend the branch until you hear the crack and stop. This takes a bit of learning but it can be done.

A beautiful bonsai made from the pistachio. These trees have awesome colour as well as ramification. The leaves are really easy to reduce in size.

The also really lend themselves to ‘unusual’ styles of bonsai and not just the informal upright design as seen in the picture.

We have some really unusual specimens of these in stock, that will lend themselves nicely to a lot of different styles.

Description: A medium to large tree with elegant and attractive, glossy green, pinnate leaves that turn a beautiful orange red or crimson in autumn.

Styles: Formal upright; Informal Upright;Slanting;Cascade;Semi-cascade;Literate;Broom;Rock-over-root;Clasped-to-rock;Twin-trunk;Clump;Group planting; Saikei

Watering: Keep soil moist, do not let it dry out. Feeding: Fortnightly during the growing season. Leaf and Branch Pruning: Any pruning that needs to be done is best carried out in the spring. Re-potting & Growing Medium: This species strongly resents being transplanted. It is best to transplant in spring when new growth is beginning. Wiring: A very ornamental tree.. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


With bending, don’t think it all has to be done at the one go. You can bend a branch over an entire season. The best way to do this is, once having rapia’d the branch and wired it, connect a loop of wire past the point that you want bent, and fix it to a opposite side of the tree, something to gain leverage from. You are then able to twist the wire slowly, maybe a turn every second day, until you have the desired bend. Leave this for a full growing season. For older trees, you may need to leave them for 2 – 3 years.

Whilst talking about bending, I saw an interesting article the other day on it. Instead of just bending the branch with both hands, twist the branch first with both hands until you crack the cambium. Often a crack can be heard. (This is before applying raphia) What this does is instead of putting the pressure across the cambium, it puts it along the branch instead. It is like hundreds of strands slightly separating, but not actually breaking as a branch does straight across.

I hope you are able to understand what I mean! By the way, I take no responsibility for broken branches!! Take the time to learn and practice on branches  that it doesn’t matter if you do break them.

December 2010

Chaenomeles (flowering quince)

These amazing little trees make spectacular bonsai. They are probably not created in the same way as traditional bonsai, ie informal upright etc, but are done in a more artistic fashion they come in a great range of colours (we have red orange and salmon in stock) and will produce quinces, usually yellow and sort of pear shaped.

Trees like this really stand out when used as a feature, or even as an accompanying plant.This is where all your unusual pot shapes and colour comes in, bright tree, bright pot. They tend to grow with multi trunk configurations and are often seen as raft style bonsai. So there you go! Something completely different

Merry Christmas to everyone from the whole gang here at Red Dragon Bonsai, Kath, Sam, Jesse, Thor and myself.

I would just like to thank everyone for their support and business during the year, it is very much appreciated!

Take the time to enjoy the season and remember its reason.

Watering (yes again!)

Well no we are not running out of water as I recently mentioned and as you would have noticed!

When will we learn that we are ‘a land of droughts and flooding rains’ written by Dorothea Mackellar (I think about 1918)

It is vital to remember that although we have had this extensive rain, as soon a s it stops and the sun comes out, your tree will begin to explode.

This presents a few different ‘problems’

1. Because your tree/s have been getting so much water they have increased their uptake dramatically. Whilst this is a good thing, this will continue to happen even after the rain stops. So rather than back off from your watering after it stops raining be sure to keep it up for a week or so as let the trees uptake slow down. Remember that a tree in a pot is an unnatural thing, and will have all the characteristics of a tree growing in the ground where it can travel and get all the moisture and nutrients it needs. But confined to a pot it is relying on YOU!

2. The other thing that happens during this heavy rain is that it will leach out the bulk of your fertilizer. It doesn’t matter when it was put in, most of it will be gone, especially the powdered form. We use and sell Healthy Earth fertilizer here at the nursery and find this as one of the better fertilizers.

So we will go around the whole nursery and redo the trees with this. Remember that with all this rain and humidity, the majority of your trees will have a new burst of growth. Its for this reason that it’s a good idea to fertilize them so as they are not stressed. Just remember though, more is NOT better!


Now is a great time to defoliate some of your trees. This works with most broadleaf varieties ie: figs, maples etc

The purpose of defoliation is twofold, firstly it will force your tree to produce new shoots sooner than it would have, thus producing smaller leaves, and secondly, it will create greater ramification (more branching because of the prompting of more growth inside the tree because of more light getting to it, see above) It will also improve autumn colour in your maples.

Just remember that after defoliation be sure as to not to over water your trees as they are not able to transpire because of the loss of leaves. Make sure you cut the growing tip off as well, this sends a signal to the tree that it has lost the provider of auxin (growing hormone) and will readily promote new growth.