May Care

WATERING – Spring is usually considered a dry and warm season. As a result, you may have to water your plants twice a day depending on the size of the pot and plant species. 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 should be full of new growth because of warm temperatures and longer daylight. 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 are now growing fast and producing food, consequently the cambium layer will begin to thicken at a much faster rate. 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 begin to get intense this month. For that reason, keep a close eye on your plants that are more sensitive to Florida’s harsh sun such as maples, azalea plants and shohin (small bonsai). 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 temperatures are warm to hot. 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 – Begin to repot some of your tropicals such as ficus, bougainvillea, and Fukien tea plants. Remember to keep the plant in the shade for seven to ten days and mist the leaves daily after repotting. 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. Avoid repotting buttonwoods until June.

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