|PHOENIX BONSAI SOCIETY :
BACK-TO-BASICS WORKSHOP NOTES
BACK-TO-BASICS: PRUNING & SHAPING
(Presented by Bill Mooney & Leroy Fujii, 10/08/96)
| Determine the Basic Shape, either that which the untrained tree suggests or that which you want to give the tree. What is the Front of the Tree?
A non-symmetrical Triangular Shape is aesthetically most pleasing and natural looking, both for the overall tree and for the growth on individual branches.
Set branches in proportion to the overall tree. The harmony of spaces is determined by the placement of the lower branches. In 90% of the bonsai in Japan, a 10:1 ratio is seen: a 10″ high tree has a 1″ diameter trunk.
Frost-sensitive plants should get NO pruning after mid-October or so. Do drastic pruning in February for most trees, maples by the end of January to avoid excessive bleeding of rising sap.
BACK-TO-BASICS: FEEDING & WATERING
(Presented by Ernest Hasan, 11/12/96)
| Next to Pruning, Watering is the quickest/most decisive way to affect plant growth. Too much: too much growth and too long growth, root rot, drowning, death (more plants are killed because of overwatering than from underwatering);
Learn individual watering needs, Amount and Frequency, the “Five S’s”:
Allow the soil surface to be dry and even a slight wilting of leaves showing on some varieties before watering again, then water deeply and thoroughly.
Quality: right from the tap (the worst); tap that has been sitting out 24 hours; sitting tap with a small amount of white vinegar added (1 tablespoon per gallon at least once a month); distilled; pond/aquarium; Reverse Osmosis (R.O.); rain (the best, but least likely to be gotten).
Watering can be done from the bottom using a sink or tub, good for just a few plants. From the top using a hose or watering can, good if you have several plants. Foliar, good to clean dust and dirt off plants and cool the leaves, but best with distilled or R.O. so as not to put salt deposits on leaves. Salt from tap water can build up on pots, trunk and roots and possibly cause leaf burn in some plants. Azaleas and bald cypresses can be killed by hard water.
NOTE: Bonsai is a continually evolving art, especially as practiced in a younger location such as the U.S. There is some evidence now of potential harmful longterm effects of synthetic commercial fertilizers in bonsai soil mixes — for instance, the buildup of salts that are part of those fertilizers’ composition. Based on our own positive longterm experiences with these blends in this unique environment, we offer caution about quitting their use just because it is recommended to do so elsewhere. This is a subject which must be further investigated. As we get a clearer picture of the best care for our desert growing trees we will include that information here.
When to apply? During growing seasons, not during dormancy, during pre-flower seasons. If air temperature is under approx. 70 F, fertilizer acts very slowly;
Keep a log of your fertilizer application and results, if only for a single year.
Finally, the concept of “feeding the soil” as opposed to just “feeding the tree” is one that needs further discussion in our circles. Stay tuned.