Summer's Here

May - and Summer Is Here 

by Lee Vanderpool 

This is the last month that you will have to do all those things you meant to do as soon as “the weather is nice enough” but it wasn’t and you didn’t! You still have time to repot some of the azaleas (especially satsukis) but be sure they have finished blooming or pick the blooms off before repotting. This is less than the ideal time to repot deciduous but they can be repotted in an emergency after the leaves have hardened, that is, as soon as the leaves have lost the soft newness of first flush. It might help in this case to either partially or completely defoliate the tree to reduce stress on the root system. If possible, don’t trim the roots but just set the tree into a slightly larger pot which can accommodate it until you can repot it properly in the fall. If you haven’t sprayed for those creepy crawlies yet, now is the time to do so. Aphids are particularly troublesome this time of year but are easily dislodged from new foliage by a strong stream of water. Aphids cause disfiguration of new leaves and the die back of new twigs if the infestation is bad enough. This is also the time pesky white fly (actually a small moth) appears. They are very difficult to control and must be treated with a com-mercial insecticide. The real problem with white fly is not the adults, which are unsightly, but with their larvae which appear to be small scale on the underside of leaves. These must be treated with miscible oil which is available at large box stores or nurseries. Follow the label instructions and spray at regular intervals to keep the population under control. A side effect of white fly infestation is the appearance of sooty mold. This is a black, soot-like coating of the leaves caused by fungus feeding upon the sweet secretions of the white fly larvae. This will disappear if you can get rid of the moths. Gardenias, persim-mons, citrus, camellias and other thick leafed plants seem to attract white fly. Don’t forget to begin your annual regimen of fertilizing, applying fungicide, stepped up watering and shading from the hot midday sun. Plant seeds of new plants you may want to try as bonsai in a few years. You can still stick cuttings of new wood. Any cuttings must be kept extra moist now that the heat is beginning to build and the sunshine is getting more direct. Enjoy the summer. 

© Fort Walton Beach Bonsai Society (FWBBS) ELF 2020