1 October 2022

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - October


OCTOBER                                SPRING!

Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celsius
Temp. Min Celsius
October
32,7
74
8,9
21,2
10,6

POSITION
Early spring! All or nearly all deciduous plants are out in leaf, the soft new foliage is a delight. We normally still experience rain and some cool weather is still around. Days are definitely less cloudy and longer. The drying south-east wind has not started seriously but be careful of hot dry days. 
WATERING
Daily watering of outdoor bonsai may be required unless it rains.
FERTILISING
This is the time of year when advantage must be taken of good strong growth and from now on feeding should be regular and conscientiously carried out. Trees put on girth and wiring must be carefully watched lest scars develop.
DISEASE CONTROL
Pests are starting to enjoy life and may be decimating bonsai. Judicious control needs to be exercised. Some pests are not easy to see or identify. If a tree is not looking "right" ask for help. 
PRUNING
Nipping and feeding is what is done now, it may seem a contradiction to feed and then to nip most of the new growth off but that is the way to build up a fine structure of small branchlets and achieve detail design.
POTTING
Many evergreens may be potted now. Watch for swollen buds. The correct time is usually when buds are swollen but before the leaves unfurl. An exception may be figs it is far too early to pot them. 
REMARKS
In our area the weather may be unfriendly with cold wind and rain but it is spring and when the weather is nice take the opportunity of collecting moss and stones for use with bonsai. It is also a good time to collect potential bonsai from the wild as long as the appropriate permission has been sought, have respect for the ecology.

This is a very good time to plant seeds and to take cuttings

1 September 2022

Bonsai things to do in Cape Town - September

SEPTEMBER  

Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celcius
Temp. Min Celcius
Sept
41,7
77
7,7
19,2
8,7

POSITION
Still cold, rainy and windy but the signs of spring are emerging and buds are swelling. Some trees are well into new leaf.
WATERING
Water if it does not rain for a few days. Wind causes evaporation even on really cold days.
FERTILISING
As deciduous trees come into leaf they will benefit from light feeds. Evergreens that show signs of growth may also be fed lightly. Growth stimulants may be used but remember that they are not substitutes for fertiliser. After the heavy rains of winter nutrients have been leached out of the small quantity of soil in bonsai pots. Bonsai are dependant on feeding.
DISEASE CONTROL
Pests, especially sucking mites and some fungi are active, take steps to control if necessary before they debilitate a bonsai.
PRUNING
Allow the soft branchlets on deciduous trees to extend to about seven leaves and then prune back to 2 leaves. This is a vital exercise to build up a fine network of small branchlets (ramification).
POTTING
It is best to wait until next month for potting evergreens but some deciduous trees which are not yet in leaf may be judiciously potted.
REMARKS
An exciting time of the year for bonsai enthusiasts as new growth appears. It’s a good time to spring clean and tidy up. Do not be discouraged by the odd storm which causes a mess, look upon the clean-up as a relaxing and therapeutic exercise. Remove spent blossoms on winter flowering bonsai such as azaleas. The production of seed takes a lot out of a small bonsai.

1 August 2022

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - August

AUGUST

Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celcius
Temp. Min Celcius
August
73,7
79
6,7
17,8
7,4

POSITION
Still wet, cold, windy and dark but beneath the gloom sap is rising and potting is hectic. Finish potting deciduous trees this month and add acacias to the list.
WATERING
Little watering required but be wary of consecutive dry days. Check drainage holes in pots and if trees are not draining properly lift them up and place coarse gravel under them.
FERTILISING
It is still very early to apply feeds but growth stimulants may be used. Once growth commences fertilisers may be used.
DISEASE CONTROL
Pests are waking up and whilst humans are still reluctant to go outdoors pests may be damaging little trees. Take the necessary precautions.
PRUNING
Pruning may now be carried out freely, stimulating growth by pruning on both deciduous and evergreens are useful.
POTTING
Deciduous trees may still be potted but take care with evergreens it is still too cold for them. Only pot when the onset of growth is obvious.
REMARKS
August days are longer but temperatures are still lower than in June. This area is still in winter, so take care not to do things best left to spring.

SUISEKI AND PENJING
The weather is conducive to collecting rocks as SUISEKI or for creating PENJING. It is also very healthy both physically and mentally to get outdoors and to enjoy a special closeness with nature.

1 July 2022

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - July


JULY
Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celcius
Temp. Min Celcius
July
96,9
81
6,2
17,4
7,1

POSITION
The shortest day has passed and days are getting longer but only marginally. The same remarks apply as for June.
WATERING
The water table is high and frequent rains and dull days often mean wet condi­tions but, take care! A few dry days and bonsai could suffer. The winds are strong and frequent, shelter delicate trees and pots! Ensure that pots drain correctly. 
FERTILISING
No point in fertilising this month - temperatures are too low.
DISEASE CONTROL
Snails and slugs are busy, use appropriate bait. Fungus spores may be active during wet humid conditions. It is never cold enough in our area to kill spores of fungus effectively.  Spray with fungicides if necessary.
PRUNING
Winter prune and design prune deciduous trees.
POTTING
This is a really busy potting month for most deciduous trees such as Celtis, Ulmus, Acer, Taxodium, Betula, Carpinus, Wisteria and Malus. Visit a nursery for soil and pot supplies. It is always preferable to take a tree for which a pot is to be chosen to the pot supplier for direct selection.
REMARKS
A month when enthusiasm is sometimes at a low ebb but soon sap will be rising. Enjoy exchanging views with like minded people and reading books and maybe even surfing the web on Bonsai and related topics.

1 June 2022

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - June

What to do in June

June is the start of a very busy period for bonsai, with many time sensitive activities:

·      Clean and disinfect your benches.

·      Remove dead leaves from pots and under benches as they encourage re-infestation of Summer’s pests, put down bait for slugs and snails.

·      Check that drainage holes are clear and that your pot is draining properly if not angle it on a wooden block making sure it is secure, and then correct the problem in Spring.

·      Spray Lime Sulphur twice, at weekly intervals, 35ml per 1litre, cover unglazed pots I don’t spray my evergreens as some people do, because I don’t like the awful colouring the lime sulphur tends to leave on the trees. I prefer to use Rosecare, Seizer + Eco Oil, Koinor or Plant Care.

·      If you develop Black Algae on your soil surface Copper Oxychloride WP works well without killing the moss.

·      Don’t let moss get anywhere near acacia, pine or cork bark elm trunks.

·      Time to shoot select and needle pluck multi flush pines and embark on a feeding program to build them up before candle pruning in December. Adelgids and mites seem very prevalent. I use the chemicals mentioned above in point 4.

·      Time to reassess the design of your deciduous bonsai, transition your branches from thick too thin to give you better taper, remove unnecessary growth, wire carefully.

·      Dead head azaleas (once the flowers have died remove them).

·      Check watering, Bonsai are extremely sensitive to drought and cold.

·      Potting time is soon here so gather all you may need and prepare your soil mixture.

1 May 2022

Bonsai Things to do in Cape Town - May


MAY 

Month
Mean Rainfall mm
Rel.  Humidity %
Daily Sun­shine Hrs
Temp. Max Celcius
Temp. Min Celcius
May
76,7
80
6,3
20
9,5

POSITION
Some showers and cooler weather are on the way. Some bonsai may have to be moved into sunnier spots or shade cloth may have to be removed.
WATERING
As usual watering needs to be watched, especially if the weather is cool and overcast but no rain has actually fallen.
FERTILISING
This is the last opportunity for feeding as with lower temperatures and shorter days plants do not take up much in the way of nutrients.
DISEASE CONTROL
Many pests are going into hibernation but snails and slugs are active.
PRUNING
Do not prune deciduous plants as stimulating growth is undesirable in winter, plants need a rest period.
POTTING
Too late for autumn potting and too early for deciduous trees.
REMARKS
A balmy month as a rule and the last chance to mix soil in reasonably dry conditions. Mosses are starting to appear remember to leave small pieces when collecting so that regeneration takes place.