A Podcast Episode on Shade Cloth

A couple weeks ago on the Bonsai Wire podcast Carmen Leskoviansky and I covered “Shade Cloth”.

Carmen and I gave the subject our best thoughts. Or so we thought…

I listened to it last week and realized one thing we didn’t talk about is water conservation. Though we are understandably concerned about the water holding capacity of our soil, the amount of sun hitting the pot also figures in water conservation.

If you have even as little as 20% shadecloth you can reduce water needs. 50% shadecloth can substantially reduce a plant’s water needs.

Although the middle of the summer may be a strange time to talk about shade cloth, it’s a good time to strategize. And fall is a great time to order shade cloth. Spring is the worst time…as everyone else is scrambling to do the same and many services offering custom work may be backlogged for months.

Try the podcast for more tips on shade cloth: Bonsai Wire “Shade Cloth”.

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  1. Travis H. says:

    Agreement with all points here. I live in coastal NC and 40% shade cloth has really done wonders for a few out of zone species. I was reluctant to put it up at first, thinking it would be too much shade. My Alberta, Colorado Blue and Oriental spruce have all come through the summer with great success thus far. I also have a Hemlock that really popped this summer with the cloth up. Thanks for the newsletter and all the help you and your contemporaries are giving out! Before I joined a local club, most of the info I gathered was from yourself, Ryan, Boon and others online. I still try to keep up with what you are doing, but you are miles ahead. Look forward to catching up one day! You guys rock.

    • crataegus says:

      Yes 40% seems like a lot but really it isn’t. I find things don’t really feel shady until 50%, and 40 gives a great edge off the intensity of periodic sun and heat. Persistent sun and heat might be better at 50% or more, but you seem to have a good thing there at 40%. Hemlocks are the canary in the coal mine for conifers at any rate. Glad those and spruce are doing well. In Japan we had all the Ezo spruce under 50%, alongside the deciduous.

  2. GL says:

    Thanks for this! It was really well timed.

    I live in southern Louisiana and we’re struggling with extraordinary circumstances; we haven’t had rain in weeks, our relative humidity is ~55%, our temps have been highs of 100F+ and lows of ~80F for weeks. Almost all of my trees are small-medium and in either 100% akadama, 1:1 akadama/pumice, or a local mix of akadama/lava/pine bark. Most of my trees are looking pretty bedraggled despite attentive watering/misting.

    Here’s my question: everything is under 50% shade cloth above 3 feet over their heads. Given I can’t currently get to 6 feet, and given the extreme conditions, would you suggest a higher shade cloth %?

    Appreciate you!

    • crataegus says:

      Sorry for your troubles! If your trees have been under 50% all summer, and they are looking bedraggled, then perhaps 60%, but most things don’t do well beyond that, outside of shade plants like hostas and such. I have seen pretty good shading at 3’, so maybe look at other reasons they might be shaky.

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