Seasonal Tips to help you care for your bonsai - Late Summer
Tips - July/August
Tropicals (grown outdoors) - Many bonsai growers site their tropical bonsai outdoors late spring through early fall. Tropical bonsai love the heat of the summer and will reward you with lush, verdant growth. Attend to the trimming of your tropicals on a regular basis so as not to allow your bonsai to grow out of control and affect its silhouette. Also, grooming your trees this time of year will stimulate back budding and improve your tree's overall ramification, beauty and quality.
Continue feeding your outdoor tropicals and keep pace with your tree's watering needs. Here at Yellowdog Bonsai we feed with organics, both liquid and dry on our outdoor bonsai.
Tropicals (grown indoors) - Siting your tropical bonsai indoors year round is typical with many bonsai lovers. Most woody tropicals will thrive indoors if light levels, temperatures and humidity is aligned with the needs of your particular tree. Obviously greenhouses and sunrooms are the best choices to grow any plant, however our homes and offices can easily be adapted to successful bonsai growing environments. Air conditioning is an especially big obstacle for indoor bonsai growers to overcome. Air conditioning removes humidity from the air - to that end there are a few ways to increase the humidity level around your bonsai. Mist your tree 2-3 times per day, also you can set your bonsai on a shallow tray with pebbles and water (make sure your bonsai pot and roots are not sitting IN the water.) The evaporation of the tray water will raise humidity around the bonsai. Many bonsai devotees choose trees that easily adapt to the low humidity levels of our homes and work places. Ficus, Natal Plum, Portulacaria, Bougainvillea, and Olive are good choices for a somewhat dry environment.
Do not site your bonsai near or in the direct flow of an air conditioner. Your tree will quickly desiccate and decline.
Hardy/Outdoor - By July, outdoor bonsai have put on most of their vigorous flush of growth for the growing season. The heat of July and August slow down the growth rate of most hardy evergreens and deciduous bonsai.
Some key points and tasks to safely get your bonsai through the "yellowdog" days of summer are as follows
1) Do not miss a scheduled watering - the quickest way to stress your trees is too little water in the heat of summer.
2) Rotate the position of your bonsai in relation to exposure to the sun - this will balance the growth of all sides of your tree.
3) Bonsai in very small pots in full sun can quickly heat up the root zone to potentially deadly high temps. On very hot days, low 90's and higher, place your trees in shade or in locations with only early morning sun. Your Maples and other deciduous bonsai will appreciate some midsummer shade.
4) Be mindful of very hot, dry, windy days. Deciduous bonsai can quickly wilt and "edge-burn". Mist foliage in early morning or late afternoon. A shady location will benefit your trees.
5) Feed only weak doses of balanced fertilizer until late-August when our nights become a bit cooler. At that point regular strength feeding can resume.
6) Do not transplant or repot your hardy bonsai this time of year.
7) It's a good time to groom your deciduous bonsai to shape if you haven't already done so. Note - If you prune your Azaleas in August you may be removing next spring's flower buds. Here at Yellowdog Bonsai we prune (and repot if necessary) our evergreen Azaleas immediately after flowering and deadheading.
8) As always, inspect your bonsai for pests on a regular basis and treat as needed.