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Summertime, summertime… And your Chojubai is losing its leaves. And you are freaking out.

Well, maybe don’t.

In the middle of summer, right around now, your ‘Chojubai’ dwarf flowering quince will yellow and drop off half its leaves. For most things, this would be a weird time of year to lose a lot of leaves, but Chojubai is definitely off the weird shelf, designed to keep us guessing.

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Older Chojubai showing typical summer yellowing. There’s also some of the spotty flowering that tends to happen in the warm months.

Please note that this summer yellowing and dropping of leaves is not related to mosaic disease, which is a minor yellowing on leaf edges.

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Another older tree showing the same thing. Notice also that the new foliage is larger than the spring foliage.

These little quince are rather oddballs in that they don’t seem particularly interested in the leaves they grow. Fickle, more like it. They’ll use them for a while, then ditch them in nearest compost pile they can find. Shameful, wasteful life forms. But they seem to be happy, and simply grow a second set of leaves in the summer. These are often bigger than the spring set of leaves, but your older Chojubai will still look more sparse in the summertime.

The young plants are a different story. They can drop some summer leaves too, but sometimes not. And in a hot summer year like this one, will keep pushing long shoots…

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Young Chojubai throwing long shoots in the summer. These plants have none of the yellowing leaves of the older plants.

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Hot summers can push long growth on Chojubai. I measured one that was charging off, currently 33″ long…and still growing!

 

This month we had the delight to have Young Choe, probably the foremost kusamono artist working in the United States, give a presentation and workshop at Crataegus Bonsai. Young studied with Keiko Yamane in Japan.

Thanks for coming, Young! Everyone left giddy with info and the passion to make their own kusamono.

Here are some photos of the presentation and workshops:

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Wonderful pot by Vicki Chamberlain.

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In the kusamono mosh pit…

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Some kusamono made in the workshops:
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Students and the kusamono they created in the first workshop…

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…and students from the second workshop.

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At the presentation/demo. Thanks everyone for coming and making Young feel welcome in Portland!

There are various ways of helping our bonsai cope with sun and not literally cooking them on our benches in the summertime. They are in pots, but it doesn’t mean we want to fry a special root dish, in a soil sauce…

Because bonsai are in pots, they are very unlike trees in the ground. We want to reduce any similarities to a dog in a car on a hot day.

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Fry your bonsai it can, without cooking oil…

There are two situations… A cooler climate with rare spikes in temperature to 100 F / 38 C or higher that might last a few days, and then there are the hot summer areas that are always that high:

Sudden, rare spikes in cooler climates: Simply relocate your trees temporarily. Don’t bring them inside, but on the ground is a good start, under benches maybe, in light shade. Try to avoid full shade. Place them close together, but still retaining ease of watering. Plants near other plants cool one another with transpiration. Placing bonsai on grass is going to be a lot cooler than on a sidewalk.

Hot weather areas: These areas need site modification. Shadecloth over your growing area is a great option, reducing the ambient and radiant heat. Try 30% shadecloth for general use. Plant more vegetation around your benches, and reduce gravel or concrete areas. Put up fogger/misters that use very little water for cooling down during the heat of the day. Another, less attractive but very effective option is protecting individual pots with either towels or aluminum foil. Yet another is the same as cold weather protection, sinking your pots in bark or gravel. Gravel holds heat, though, so bark or something similar is better protection and is less likely to damage pots. Simply turning your trees so that the lowest branches shield the pot in the late afternoon can be significant. Be aware that entire site modification is much more effective than shielding individual pots.

In general terms (very general!), conifers will be more resistant to the effects of heat. Most conifer bonsai are happy up to 90 F. Most deciduous will do fine up to 80 F. If you’re consistently much higher than that, then you need site modification.

The advantages to any sort of heat reduction are:

  • Moisture needs of the bonsai greatly decrease
  • Foliage remains in better condition
  • Less damage to roots
  • Bonsai show less stress

Most importantly, do not ignore hot spells! Wing into action… They can seriously put your tree back, as badly as if they’d been hosting a very successful pest or disease.

Especially those who live in areas that are currently seeing water restrictions, reducing your water needs might be really significant if you’ve a lot of plants to take care of. Protecting bonsai from intense sun can make a huge difference to health and the ability of the tree to avoid other stresses. Trees can generally handle one stress, but multiple stresses get dicey. Bonsai already have one…they’re in a pot!

At the finish of our Indiegogo campaign we raised $19,055 from 114 funders in 35 days. Our hugest thanks to everyone!

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Because we were 191% funded, the Portland Bonsai Village will be able to get going sooner than anticipated. We’ll be in touch with all of you about our progress, such as when our website is finally live, our future plans, and how you can benefit.

Also because of the campaign’s success at passing our funding goal, it won’t just disappear from Indiegogo. It will be searchable for a long time yet, and you will still have the ability to donate. If you’ve not yet seen the ridiculous videos, take a moment:

Portland Bonsai Village’s Indiegogo campaign

Thanks to all!

Michael Hagedorn and the entire Portland Bonsai Village crew

 

 

I’ve received several emails about how to handle juvenile foliage on junipers, and felt like this was one of those discussions that could be useful to a larger group of people.

  • Juvenile growth in junipers is when the shoots display needle-like growth on a typically scale growth variety (a few of those are listed below).
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This is Rocky Mountain juniper, a scale juniper, showing the past year’s growth as the spiky, juvenile foliage, with the tips transitioning into mature, scale foliage.

Spiky juvenile growth is a response to either too much foliage loss from pinching (don’t do that), overly hard pruning, or sometimes too much fertilizer. Naturally, since mature scale foliage is nicer to look at, and is what the tree grows when it’s content, we might have the impulse to cut the juvenile off.

  • Don’t do that. Leave the juvenile foliage alone.
  • The problem is, if we cut off the juvenile growth, we’ve likely cut off everything that is new growth on the juniper. And that would be deeply, seriously, and really quite intensely bad. A juniper needs its newer foliage to stay healthy and strong.

When the tree is ready, it will grow scale foliage on the new tips, replacing the juvenile. The needles of the juvenile foliage will over time yellow, brown, and eventually will be shed. But, it can be a year or two impatient wait for this to happen. You might want to stock up on gloves so you don’t nibble your fingernails off.

Of the clearly scale-type junipers, Itoigawa is one of the most guilty in how it so easily reverts to juvenile foliage after an over-strong pruning. Rocky Mountain can revert to juvenile. So can Sierra. Shimpaku is one of the least susceptible.

In short: Leave your juvenile foliage to its own devices, concentrate on other trees to dilute impatience, and try not to repeat past juniper offences.

For more about how to maintain junipers, please see the post Never Pinch Junipers!

Generally speaking, mushrooms grow better under trees than trees do. When talking about bonsai, there are a number of reasons not to grow them underneath larger trees. To take just one, there is usually not enough light. The following photo illustrates this poignantly…

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This is on my morning walk. Three small pines were planted under a large spruce. The one on the left is getting the bare minimum light to be healthy. The one in the middle isn’t getting enough, so it is weak and leggy. The one on the right, in deepest shade and fully under the canopy of the spruce, is dead.

Conifers in particular need a LOT of sun. But even a deciduous tree would be weak if grown under the canopy of the spruce in the photo.

Keep your bonsai in the sun! And then water them.

 

A big update on the Indiegogo campaign to fund the Portland Bonsai Village: A day ago we went over our $10,000 goal! We’re at $10,400 and counting.

Many of the campaigns on Indiegogo reach 150-300% funding for a good reason: The goal jumpstarts a project, but most projects could use more to insure the success of the venture. So, if you’ve been wanting to donate, there are still 22 days to do so!

Visit the Indiegogo campaign

Thanks so much to our community, which is quite a bit larger than we thought…

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