November Care by Lee Vanderpool

If you haven’t provided shelter for your tropicals, you are beginning to stretch into the danger zone - the first frost could be any day or night! Continue to water even though the weather has turned cooler. With the dry fall winds, desiccation can take place very quickly. Many people believe that trees do not need water when the weather is cool but the root systems of all trees and the leaves of ever-greens continue to use water on a limited basis throughout the winter. Although there has been a definite downturn in temperatures, most trees and shrubs will continue to develop roots throughout the fall/early winter. If you have air layers left on trees from sum-mer (some of the hard-to-root trees such as pines and junipers may need up to two growing seasons for air layers to form roots), maintain them throughout the cold weather. Make sure that the cover of the sphagnum moss is still intact so the newly developing rootball doesn’t dry out. If you neglect to pro-vide enough moisture to help keep the action going, you stand as much chance of losing your tree as you would during the summer. Junipers can be pruned drastically during this transition period and will provide an amazing amount of growth when the first warm weather returns. Most evergreen shrubs and trees can be repotted now including junipers, boxwoods and many others. You may want to wait until spring to repot the holly family: yaupon, English, etc., especially if the have berries. Pyracantha should be at its most showy now - if you are fortunate to entreat one to survive in a pot! Some bam-boos are winter hardy, some are not. If in doubt, put your bamboo in the greenhouse or at least on a sheltered porch. After November, you can pretty much stop fertilizing your trees for the winter. A couple of applications of liquid iron during the winter won’t hurt anything, though. As soon as the leaves of your deciduous trees drop is the time to spray for the first time with miscible (water soluble) oil to help control white fly and scale. It will also smother some eggs and overwintering insects so is a pretty important operation. Another spraying should be done in the very early spring just before leaf break to follow up on the fall spraying. Don’t spray this oil on evergreens, only deciduous trees. Evergreens transpire throughout the year and oil clogs the pores and does not allow gas to escape, thereby eventually killing the leaf or needle. Winter’s coming - be prepared! 

© Fort Walton Beach Bonsai Society (FWBBS) ELF 2020