Beginning of Hot

April - Beginning of the Hot

by Lee Vanderpool

If you haven’t begun (or finished) repotting bonsai, shame on you! Some repotting may still be accomplished on boxwoods, very late flowering trees and shrubs (don’t try it after the new leaves begin to unfold, though), azaleas soon after they finish blooming and semi-tropicals. It is not time to do tropicals yet; they can wait until May or June. The watering frequency should have been stepped up as soon as the spring leaves began to unfurl.

The initial fertilization should be done as soon as possible as well as the first application of fungicide. Benomyl, Isotox or any of the other commercial fun- gicides are acceptable. Fertilizing and fungicide treatment should be done about every two weeks throughout the growing season. 

Do not forget the bugs! Small green aphids should be attacking new foliage on many deciduous trees such as maples, elms, sweetgum, apples, peach, plum etc.

A forceful water spray will make short work of them if done on a regular basis. A good insecticide, either foliar or systemic, will get rid of the more persistent in- sects and should be applied regularly. Nip, pinch and prune. Start now, do not delay. Every day you miss doing this might mean an extra twig that will not devel- op this growing season. Care must be exercised, though, that slow growing plants such as camellias and sasanquas are not over pruned which may cause branch dieback.

Pine pruning is still a few weeks away. Wait till the candles elongate but the needles have not left the sheath - you may be looking at a one or two day period which is the absolutely correct time to decandle.  If you do not decandle or trim the candles, the trees’ branches will elongate several inches and no twigs will form this year.

Collecting is about over for this year. If you have not dug your red maples, sweetgum or other deciduous saplings for that forest you were planning next year, it is probably too late unless you can find some small trees which have been shaded by a larger one and they have not leafed out as quickly as the rest. If there are a lot of small trees, dig a few and experiment. You might be pleasantly surprised that they all survive and grow enough this summer to do that forest, after all.

© Fort Walton Beach Bonsai Society (FWBBS) ELF 2020