Archive for July, 2010

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.

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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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