A New Year…what are your bonsai resolutions?
February - Hot and Cold
February is historically the coldest month of the year in northwest Florida but that cold is usually interspersed with warm or even hot days. Plants have a difficult time deciding whether it is winter, spring or summer! Here at the end of January, my elms are already putting out green leaves. They will certainly get frostbitten when the next spell of cold comes down from the north. About the only thing you can do in case of frost or freeze is bring them
Maples are usually some of the earliest trees to break dormancy so Florida red maples should be blooming and beginning to unfurl new leaves in the next few weeks. Great care must be taken when pruning or doing any cutting on any variety of maple this time of the year since they "bleed" profusely when damaged. When sap begins to move and the tree begins to become activated to the growing period, the liquid within the tree is under great pressure and will "bleed" at any cut. I have heard of maples dying from this although I have never actually seen it happen - it cannot be good for the tree, however, to lose copious amounts of moisture during this critical period.
You should have your soil mixture prepared, pots washed and ready for use and enthusiasm building for the busy time just ahead of us. Any tree that needs to be repotted should have been identified and the proper pot selected as its new home. Be sure to wire in drain covers, whatever you use, so that they will not migrate as the tree roots grow into them. Also be prepared to wire newly transplanted trees into their pots so wind or varmints do not uproot them and expose the new and tender roots to drying wind.
Do not be in a hurry to trim winter damaged branches, twigs or foliage from trees. Wait until new growth begins to be certain that the damaged part is really dead. Many people have cut branches that were still viable much to their dismay. Once the branch is gone, it will take a long time to replace it. Better to be safe than sorry!
Also, do not be in a hurry to relocate tropical plants and trees from the shelter they got over winter. A slight amount of frost and any freeze will surely severely damage or kill them. Rule of thumb: when night time temperatures exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it is safe to return your tropical plants to the benches. They will need to be re-acclimatized to full sunshine so move them first to shade, then partial sun and finally to full sun to prevent leaves from being burned.
This is a season of caution. Be careful with your trees. They will re-pay you in the long run.