January - A New Beginning

Happy New Year to you all! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and got a lot of cool bonsai things. Alt-hough we still have about two months of cool but unpredictable weather until the mellow spring breezes of March begin to blow, now is the time to think of repotting. This is a perfect time to wash pots for use in the repotting process as well as mixing soil and those other jobs we tend not to think of during most of the year. Repotting will get underway from the end of January until the end of March for tem-perate trees. Pines, elms, junipers, boxwoods, maples, cypress, hornbeams and all those other cool weather trees that we love are all candidates for repotting during the early spring. The deciduous trees should be repotted just as the buds begin to swell, for some maples, this is as early as late January. Pines and junipers may be left until late February or early March. Any tree which has not been repotted for over two years should be checked for root growth and, if the pot if filled or the roots are circling the bottom of the pot, now is the time to replace most of the soil and to root prune. This is historically one of the driest periods of our year and care must be taken to water enough to keep your trees from being dried out by winds but not so much as to encourage root rot. This can be a fine balance. Each pot should be checked individually since different pots will dry a different rates, depending upon their location on your benches and the size of the pot as well as the composition of the soil in the pot. This is also time to spray with dormant oil to kill scale and overwintering aphids which will attack new foliage with a vengeance. Be sure to spray with oil or other insecticide when the temperatures are not too cold - above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. This is a per-fect time to drastically prune or reshape dormant trees and pines since you do not have to worry about bleeding. Maples are the ex-ception; they should be actively growing before they are pruned hard since they bleed profusely is cut during their dormant season. Watch tropical trees either in your house or in a greenhouse for aphids, whitefly and scale. If you see evidence of these pests, spray or apply systemic insecticide right away. Enjoy these lazy days of winter - you will soon be knee-deep in bonsai chores! 

© Fort Walton Beach Bonsai Society (FWBBS) ELF 2020