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The trees in this album are Hugh and Martha’s personal trees. More to come!

trees before fall pruning

Time to bring those tropical’s indoors for the winter. We are asked many times if trees should be sprayed with pesticides before being brought in. This sounds good in theory but is not a sound practice. The reason being unless you are spraying with an approved systemic, just spraying once for pests you don’t see can encourage any pests present to develop an immunity to that pesticide and others in that family of pesticides. Spray only when insects are present and then use an insecticide for that pest, make sure you follow directions, and spray at 4 times 6 days apart. This catches any stragglers.

trees after fall prunning

At this point we’ve brought in all of the tropical’s as well as the sub-tropical’s. If you are growing under natural light make sure you have the correct amount of daylight hours for the material you are placing in a given window.   If you are not sure or you think you may not have enough you can supplement with a simple fluorescent twist in a regular lamp, or install a light set up with fluorescent tubes. Which ever way you plan on wintering your trees something to be aware of, you will experience leaf drop with the decrease in light going from out to in. Allow the tree to adjust to the new situation by not feeding, over-watering, or moving the tree constantly (think about it: trees don’t walk in nature). Unless you feel you have a better situation elsewhere. Just remember that the tree can only become used to a new situation by ridding itself of old leaves used to a different light situation and producing newer foliage used to a new light source.  During the fall and winter as the day length decreases and we have times of cloud cover the trees inter nodes will stretch and when they are again exposed to a sunny period they may wilt don’t assume they are in need of water at this time.  If you mist them a few times daily they may surprise you and gain their strength back.  This is not uncommon and growers get used to it overtime.  We just need reminding.

At this time of year we try to do a final heavy pruning going into winter.  Keep in mind when doing so to prune each tertiary branch back to approximately 2 leaves this allow for growth, without making the tree look over-pruned.  This is a time to take a good look at the trees to see if there are any underlying problems which need attention.  During the winter most of the tropicals get a long with pinching, with some judicious pruning now and then.

Greia cafra before pruning

The sub-tropicals will continue to grow through much of the winter, and may require more pruning.  The Grewia pictured on the left has not been pruned for a few months, and so needs to be pruned severely, because it is a subtropical  it will continue growing through much of the winter.  When pruning leave 2 leaves on each tertiary branch this allows space future growth.  To keep the tree healthy and flowering pinch out new growth, and watch the winter watering.  This is true for most of the sub-tropicals they will generally take sltightly lower temperatures than the full tropicals.

Grewia after fall pruning

We have had some questions that might be of help to some beginners.

Question:  I purchased a
Trident Maple and a Montpelier Maple  when we visited about 2 or so weeks ago.
I have a question about the size of the pot I should use for the Trident Maple.  I recently bought a  10 inch pot but it seems as if it
is kind of big for the tree.  Would you say that a 10 inch pot is too  big.

Answer:  First you need to decide what size your tree will ultimately be, your pot should be no more than 1 1/2 times the height of the overall tree.  The depth of the pot should be no more than twice the width of the tree at the base.  As for the soil, did you specify soil for a deciduous tree?  You may have received a mix for conifers (not suitable for your trident).  In this area we need a slightly more water retentive mix which means more organic matter.  If your mix drains to quickly so that you have to water more frequently you may find it hard to keep your leaf size down.  Hope that helps.

We have added some more classes for this year and next.  We will be adding more as time goes by.  Some will be free classes so check the website.  Remember we are now open on Sat. 8-3.  If you have questions please send them to us.  Now that the summer and heat are over it is time to breath, and rest.  Best of luck

We have been growing Serissa for about 25 years, and along the way we have learned some interesting things about them.   They are shrubs native to many parts of  Southern Asia, some are tropical and some are sub-tropical.  Those which are subtropical are happier in cooler areas especially in the heat of summer.

All require humidity so are usually not happy with air-conditioning or to near a heat source in the winter.    Those which are subtropical would prefer to be kept between 55-65 in the winter, the tropicals prefer 65-75, both groups need at least 3 hours of direct sun daily or 14 hours of fluorescent light daily.  This can be achieved either by misting lightly a few times a day, or placing the tree on pebbles in a humidity tray keeping water in the tray, or setting a cool mist vaporizer near by.

Serissa like a soil mix that has some fines in

but that drains quickly, so that they don’t sit in water.  They prefer to dry slightly between watering even wilting slightly.  In the summer this can mean daily watering, in the winter this can mean at times weekly watering.  Keep in mind that as the season changes so should your watering.

Serissa are cyclical boomers, and as with many tropical plants after flowering they will loose older leaves before putting on new growth.  When the tree is in shed cut back on the watering to allow the roots to search for water which then forces the tree to grow again.  If  you continue to water without holding back the tree may begin to rot instead of growing.

We get numerous questions from beginners as well as seasoned Bonsai hobbyists, in an effort to educate more people about growing, training, and care of bonsai we will be posting the questions and answers on this bog.  If you have a question please either e-mail it to the blog, or to our website info@meehansminiatures.com.

>Q: I purchased a grewia occidentalis from you guys a few weeks ago and during this recent rockin’ heat wave, it’s begun to drop a lot of leaves.  Should I be worried?
> It’s been watered properly (I think), and there are no visible parasites.
>

A:Move it outside to the heat and bright but not direct all day sun.  Allow to dry between watering, pull off any lousy looking leaves.  I have overwatered some myself just recently in the heat.  During that sort of heat treat them like it is the other winter, no food, dry  between waterings, as much light, and humiduty as possible, and they don’t mind the heat but they don’t like the airconditioning.  Just a final note the Grewia is doing fine.

Q:  I have been reading several articles about Maple care, and they state that a Maple should be defoliated in the mid-summer. I bought two Pre Bonsai Maples from you (Trident and Palmatum) and am about to pot them. Should I defoliate them as well or is this just too much stress for the plants? Or should I hold off on potting at this time and just defoliate? Is this even the correct time for defoliation? Any advice you could offer Martha, would be greatly appreciated! I will follow whatever schedule you suggest.

A:You CAN defoliate at this time of year but you don’t have to.  Doing so will force the tree to use it failsafe buds, and the second set of leaves will come out smaller, it will also help to increase the number of twiggy branches in the long run.  If that is what you want then you can defoliate now, it is a little late but they should be fine.  Typically we defoliate after all of the leaves are full size (generally June), but you still have plenty of growing season left for them to re-foliate.  After you defoliate keep in shade, you may want to cut back on your watering slightly as the tree won’t be using quite as much as it did with full foliage.  Mist at least once a day if not twice.

Where repotting is concerned wait until early fall (Sept.) or late summer when the night time temps are in the 50’s or at most 60’s.  Just make sure you can repot before Oct. so that the trees have time to establish and new growth has hardened off before winter.  Potting in the fall is great it gets you a step ahead of the spring rush.

How dry is dry enough

In order to force a Bougainvillea and many other plant materials to flower, after flowering it should be pruned and allowed to put out new growth, then the tips should be pinched.  After it puts out new growth again it must dry to the point of wilt on a continual basis between watering as shown in the picture on the left.  This may look frightening but the trees are resilient, and bounce back very quickly, as pictured below.  Once you can see small flower buds forming in the the leaf axil’s  you should begin to water on a regular basis.  If you don’t you may loose those buds, but the tree should put out another set fairly quickly.

If you have allowed the tree to hold on to many old larger leaves it will wilt more quickly than it should, so check to be sure you have removed many of the largest leaves or you may end up over watering.  Remember tropical bonsai do not loose leaves as the deciduous (outdoor)trees do, so you may have to remove leaves at different times of the year.

All better now

If you continue to water a Bougainvillea without allowing it to wilt between waterings you may have great growth but no bloom, and what the use of growing a Bougainvillea if not for the colored bract’s.

Keep in mind that these trees grow very quickly and need a lot of pruning during the growing season which stretches from March-December.  They will flower in the winter but may loose all of the their leaves along the way, and then flower making for a gorgeous show of color.   Since the bract’s are modified leaves and leaves reduce in size the bract’s do so as well unlike flower sizes which generally do not reduce in size.   So enjoy the Bougainvillea’s color and tenacity.

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