WATERING – Until the summer rains arrive, you need to keep a close eye on your plants so they will not dry out. As a result, you may have to water twice a day depending on the species and the size of containers. However, in order to prevent root rot do not over water. Additionally, it is a good idea to water your plants early in the day so the leaves will be dry when going into the night hours thus decreasing the chance of any leave fungus.
FEEDING – Your bonsai plants will continue to grow quickly throughout the summer. Additionally, summer rains will leash away fertilizer from the soil. As a result, the plants will need to be fertilized on a regular basis. There are many types of fertilizers, from synthetics to organics. Some examples are Ironite, Peters, fish emulsion, Osmocote, and Milorganite, just to name a few. Always read the application rate carefully and then cut the rate in half in order to avoid “burning” the roots of the plants with too much fertilizer. Additionally, don’t forget to alternate acid loving plants such as azalea and gardenia plants with an acid fertilizer. Also, you may want to alternate your flowering plants with a “Super Bloom” type of fertilizer.
WIRING – Plants will continue to grow rapidly during the summer, consequently the cambium layer will thicken quickly. For that reason, continue to inspect the wire on all your trees to see when it’s time to remove it. Leaving the wire on the plant for too long will disfigure the branches; therefore, remove the wire if the branch remains in the desired position or if the wire is cutting into the cambium.
PESTS AND DISEASES – The activity of harmful insects and diseases should be in full swing. Therefore, keep a close eye on your collection and look for anything unusual such as curly, stunted new growth; blotchy or spotted, white or pale yellow areas on the leaves; white, cottony patches; spots of brown on the leaves; and insect excrement. Use environmentally friendly treatments such as the encouragement of beneficial insects, spraying the plants with a hard stream of water, hand picking larger harmful insects, and/or the use of soaps and oils. Always remember to test spray a small branch with any chemical in order to make sure there will be no phytotoxic* reaction to the plant from the soap and oil spray. An example of a plant that will drop all of its leaves if sprayed with soaps and oils is Fukien Tea. *Phytotoxicity is an adverse response in plants due to chemicals applied to the leaves or soil.
TRIMMING – Depending on the size of your collection, this will become a full time job! Always have a pair of scissors in your hand when inspecting your plants. After allowing the new growth to produce about four to six leaves cut it back to about two or three leaves. The result of continually trimming your tree will be twiggy branches, thus producing a more refined bonsai.
PRUNING – Continue to do major pruning while trees are rapidly growing. The removal of large branches will encourage new, tender growth. Consequently, wounds heal faster because the plant is manufacturing more food and producing cambium at a quicker rate.
LIGHT – Sunlight will be quite intense for the next few months. For that reason, move your more sun sensitive plants such as maples, azalea plants and shohin (small bonsai) to another location. Find a place for them that receives the less intense morning sun and that gets shade from the very intense afternoon sun. Additionally maintain rotating your trees on a weekly basis, thus preventing them from becoming one sided.
TEMPERATURES – The only way to describe Florida’s weather for the next few months is hot and humid. Keep a close eye on your plants. They will begin to dry out faster and some will not be able to tolerate Florida’s intense sunlight.
REPOTTING – Continue to repot tropicals including buttonwoods. Try to have to have repotting of all tropicals completed by the end of June. Some examples of tropical plants are ficus, bougainvillea, Bucida spinosa, Ixora, Lantana, Portulacaria (Jade), and Fukien tea plants. Remember to keep the repotted plant in the shade for seven to ten days and mist the leaves daily. Gradually bring it back in the sun until it can be placed back into its full sun location. Restart the regular watering schedule when the soil starts to dry out again. Begin your fertilizing program when the plants start to actively grow.