Let the March Winds Blow…

March is probably the finest month of the year in northern Florida. Temperatures as well as humidity are up but not too hot or too damp. Azaleas, quince, crabapples and other spring blooming plants are in flower while deciduous trees are just beginning to show green. Pine candles are sprouting at a prodigious rate but junipers are still waiting for the correct time to begin growth. Most of your repotting should be completed while tropicals and maybe some junipers and azaleas are left to finish off during this month. Now is the time to increase watering frequency, keeping in mind that, as Mother Nature waters with rain, you will have to decrease the frequency of providing extra moisture. Begin to spray with fungicide and make the first application of half strength fertilizer to your bonsai. Trees and shrubs in nursery pots may get full strength fertilizer. About the middle of March is the last frost day - but beware! The odd cold night could still happen with drastic results. Be prepared to protect tender new foliage if frost is forecast. Most of your trees should be back on their benches by March 15th and enjoying the spring sunshine. Again, be careful. If a tree has spent the past couple of months in a greenhouse or inside your house, it can sun scald rapidly if put directly into the sun-light. Move tender plants into full sun gradually. Azaleas will need trim-ming and repotting after they flower if you did not repot in early spring. Pines require only to be repotted and three year old needles as well as some unruly two year olds plucked. Leave candle care until later in the spring. Enjoy your trees now. They are probably at their best. - Lee Vanderpool 

Beginning of Hot

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 3:23 PM

Auction May 3, 2014.pdf

Don't miss our 2014 Auction.  Many items are offered.  Come snag some bargains.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:53 AM

Black Pine Care Chart

This chart is courtesy of Lawrence LeClaire of Azalea City Bonsai Society in Mobile.  He has given us permission to use the chart on our web site.  This chart is seasonally adjusted for the Gulf Coast region from Louisiana to North Florida.  

Read across the top for the month and down through the chart for the action to be taken.  The work to be done depends on whether you are working with a new tree that needs to grow (see Wild) or a tree in training that has reached some maturity.

For your pine work in March and April you should have finished (or soon will be) repotting and are now fertilizing with the famous Weekly/Weakly method.  Now is the time to watch the candles elongate.  Resist the urge to cut…wait until June.

Keep up your fungicide regimen.  Needle cast is always present in our area.  Watch for pests and treat with appropriate methods.  Spider mites can ruin a tree.  Hose weekly with a strong stream of water.  (DON'T PRESSURE WASH!!)

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LWonder who walked off with my thoughts?????

Thursday, December 26, 2013 8:16 PM

January - A New Beginning

Happy New Year to you all! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and got a lot of cool bonsai things. Alt-hough we still have about two months of cool but unpredictable weather until the mellow spring breezes of March begin to blow, now is the time to think of repotting. This is a perfect time to wash pots for use in the repotting process as well as mixing soil and those other jobs we tend not to think of during most of the year. Repotting will get underway from the end of January until the end of March for tem-perate trees. Pines, elms, junipers, boxwoods, maples, cypress, hornbeams and all those other cool weather trees that we love are all candidates for repotting during the early spring. The deciduous trees should be repotted just as the buds begin to swell, for some maples, this is as early as late January. Pines and junipers may be left until late February or early March. Any tree which has not been repotted for over two years should be checked for root growth and, if the pot if filled or the roots are circling the bottom of the pot, now is the time to replace most of the soil and to root prune. This is historically one of the driest periods of our year and care must be taken to water enough to keep your trees from being dried out by winds but not so much as to encourage root rot. This can be a fine balance. Each pot should be checked individually since different pots will dry a different rates, depending upon their location on your benches and the size of the pot as well as the composition of the soil in the pot. This is also time to spray with dormant oil to kill scale and overwintering aphids which will attack new foliage with a vengeance. Be sure to spray with oil or other insecticide when the temperatures are not too cold - above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. This is a per-fect time to drastically prune or reshape dormant trees and pines since you do not have to worry about bleeding. Maples are the ex-ception; they should be actively growing before they are pruned hard since they bleed profusely is cut during their dormant season. Watch tropical trees either in your house or in a greenhouse for aphids, whitefly and scale. If you see evidence of these pests, spray or apply systemic insecticide right away. Enjoy these lazy days of winter - you will soon be knee-deep in bonsai chores! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013 7:43 PM

November - The Beginning of Winter

November -- The Beginning of Winter

Now is the time to begin using a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 0-10-10 on your trees to prepare the roots for cold weather. Although we have not had a severe winter in several years, your trees always need to be ready to withstand temperatures down to 10º F. Adjust your watering schedule to accommodate the dryer, windier season. Too much water on roots which are trying to get ready for winter can induce root rot or drowning of trees. Although dessication is a real threat right now, overwatering can do just as much harm to your trees.This is the perfect time to put up your greenhouse or other shelter needed to overwinter tropicals. Tropical trees must be moved to a sheltered spot when the nighttime temperatures fall below 50º F. Be prepared to provide supplemental heat to the storage area if needed. The cooler weather is also a good time to prepare soil mixes for spring potting and repotting. All components for a good soil mix are available locally and are not too expensive or buy premixed soil from the club. (See bonsai soil above) Wash pots and clean your benches now to prevent disease outbreaks and insect infestation in the spring. Order new pots from one of the many online bonsai outlets. Stock up on fertilizer that will be needed in the spring when new growth begins to stress your trees. Check out books from the club library to read over the winter to give you fresh ideas on how to cultivate and maintain your trees. New books and CDs are being added o the library all the time so take advantage of them. Have a good winter and enjoy your trees without their leaves. --Lee Vanderpool

Sunday, October 27, 2013 12:46 PM

Winter is Just Around the Corner

We have had the wettest summer in recorded weather history and it shows no signs of drying up. Trees have responded to the unprecedented amount of water with extraordinary growth. Elm and maple bonsai put on new growth until the weather got too hot and they are now beginning to show signs of new life. As the weather cools further, trees will add new foliage in an attempt to store carbohydrates for the winter and for the spring growth spurt. It is important to begin your fertilizer regimen again to give them the food to store in their roots and trunks overwinter. Later, around the first of November, you should begin to fertilize with something akin to 0-10-10 to slow down the creation of new foliage which would probably get frozen later. Accent plants suffered during the summer, too, and will need to be cut back to encourage new growth.

Be sure to check all your bonsai pots for drainage since, with the rampant new top growth, roots will also have filled the pots and may be impairing drainage. If the pots are not draining well, poke holes in the soil down to the bottom of the pot, tip the pots up on a stone or board to let water run off the end of the pot or find some other way to get rid of excess moisture. Root rot may be caused by letting too much moisture remain in the root area of your trees and that is not something you need. Root rot can very easily lead to the death of a tree. If you suspect rot is setting in, soak the rootball of the tree in an all-purpose fungicide mixed to specifications for about 15 minutes. It will soon be time to think about protecting your tropicals so plan how you will do this whether it will be a greenhouse, heated room in your house or garage or a protected back porch. Enjoy the fall - it will be winter before you know it! 

Continue reading Winter is Just Around the Corner

Saturday, September 7, 2013 4:23 PM

Watering for Survival

Summer water as needed but, during the windy hottest and longest days of summer, this will usually mean at least once each day. I have preached for years that summertime dessication kills more trees than all other reasons combined. If your tree wilts from lack of wa-ter, DO NOT plunge it into a bucket of cold water. Instead, water it sparingly with room temperature water, wait 30 minutes or so then water it again. If it is not too far gone, it should begin to regain its turgidity within an hour then it may be watered normally. If it does not revive within a couple of hours, place it in shade and water periodically over the next day. As soon as it begins to revive, move it back to your bench and treat normally. If root damage has been too extensive from dryness, the tree may only partly survive. After the dead material becomes evident, prune it away and you may have the beginning of a new tree. -Lee

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:53 AM

Sources for Soil Components May 2, 2013

If you need soil, Ewing’s on Lovejoy Rd has Turface and the Mobile club has flower rock.  The other material needed is pine bark that can be purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot.  Look for pine bark as soil amendment, it is a finer grind.  

Members here in FWB have found that a good soil structure is achieved with 1 part flower rock, 1 part turface and 1 part pine bark (amendment).  Everyone has a different "recipe" for mixing bonsai soil but this seems to work for most of us.

Thursday, May 2, 2013 10:23 PM

Tri-City Bonsai Exhibit - 2013 April 25, 2013

Once again Azalea City Bonsai Society did a great job in selecting and presenting some of the finest bonsai on the North Gulf Coast.  This rotating exhibit is a chance to see what other bonsai enthusiasts are doing and to talk about techniques and just to experience tree envy.  Oh, yes…to show off our trees to the public!!

There was plenty of help setting up at the West Regional Library.  Lawrence LeClaire and his fellow members created a lovely setting for the trees.  The setup went well; most stayed calm; but like a duck they were paddling like mad underneath.

Every show seems to follow the same pattern.  Plan, plan, plan.  Day of the exhibit:  something always goes wrong.  Oh?  Can't get in the room until an hour past opening? No problem.  Just work faster.

Visitors were most complimentary about the exhibit.  I hope Mobile is able to pull a few new members into their group.

The Tri-City Show is scheduled next year in Pensacola.

Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:34 AM

Jin and Shari

Jin and Shari Program                                               April 18, 2013

Carving on bonsai can add age to a tree, create an interesting focal point on the tree, enhance a beautiful twisted lifeline along a trunk or branch, or add an artistic element that may effectively "fill" an empty space.  Jin typically means dead wood at the end of a branch or the top of the tree.  Shari is carved/dead wood within the tree.

Jin on podocarpus.         

Care must be taken to protect yourself by using safety glasses, properly handling tools, both power and hand carving tools.  A special note: many woods are toxic if inhaled or ingested!  Take special care to wear a mask to protect your lungs, etc. from wood dust particularly when using power tools.

The carving should reflect the tree's origins or expand the story you are trying to tell with the tree.  Did a lightning strike take the top out of the tree?  Was the snow so heavy it broke a branch away and ripped some bark off the trunk?  Did a hurricane rip off several branches leaving both gin and shari?

Not all trees are well suited to having carved wood as part of the tree.  So called 'soft wood' trees have short fibers and/or will rot more readily than the 'hard woods'.  Junipers, bristle cone pines, podocarpus and others will accept carving without yielding to rot too quickly.  All carved areas need to be treated with some sort of fungus control.  One typical product is lime sulphur, a fungicide that is still available on the market.  The stark white result can be controlled by diluting the lime sulfur 1:2, 1:3, etc. (sulfur to water ratio); not for use in the landscape.  Another note: protect live wood and the bonsai soil from the lime sulfur.

© Fort Walton Beach Bonsai Society (FWBBS) ELF 2020