A wet growing season; you would think that would be a good thing, right?
No need to water, no worries about wilting or drying, right?
When you’ve had so much rain that a ten year rain deficit has been ended and there is now a surplus (in 5 months time) it’s hard to keep some of your trees healthy.
Not that I’m complaining too much, the bonsai soil I use is well draining enough and doesn’t break down (except that poor juniper in the akoi akadama mix) that root problems aren’t a problem.
I am having some fungus issues but they’ve been manageable so far.
What is bugging me is the lack of growth on some trees.
Particularly the deciduous trees.
How is that possible? Don’t trees need water to grow?
Yes. But ultimately, root growth is what regulates top growth and if the roots don’t need to grow in search of water the top won’t grow either (this is why plants in pots grow more slowly than those in the ground, we tend to overwater plants in pots more often than those in the ground. It’s also why we repot often; the new growth of roots after a repot will cause the top to grow more that year).
Why am I telling you all this?
It has to do with this tree
In my little mind I was thinking that I wired and repotted this tree sometime in March or maybe February.
It is now the end of August and I am surprised that I still had the wire on it.
That’s five months and there are only two spots where the wire is even thinking of cutting in.
This is Florida remember; with its rampant and uncontrollable growth.
Here is how you last saw the tree
The totally mind blowing thing to me was the original posting date. It was on January 1st.
That’s 8 months!
Check here if you don’t believe me.
Eight months and the wire is still on it.
There is one wire cut here
And that’s because it had this growing from it
Which is one of only two new branches with any growth.
Time to remove the wire.
One good thing, the branches grew enough to set in place, at least.
Ok, enough procrastinating, get to work Adam.
And, for you’re amazement and disbelief, this is all the wire I had put on it.
I know, right?
I know a lady that grows shohin bonsai and she doesn’t have that much wire on her whole collection.
Look at this,
it’s easily a full kilo of wire.
I’m carrying a torch for you baby.
The one set back I’ve had is in the back
The setback is dieback, in the back.
I’m trying to bring sexy back. Or a sexy back. If you shave my back I’ll shave your back. Back in the saddle again. The Empire Strikes Back when we go Back To The Future or bring back, bring back, bring back my Bonnie to me.
Back….to the tree.
Here is the, uh, back of the tree without wire
And the side
And the front
Now I’m gonna do something you can’t do (well, unless you live in Florida or someplace similar).
I’m going to defoliate.
There are two reasons to defoliate. One is to get small leaves.
In Florida, if I’m trying to reduce leaf size, I’ll defoliate in June, and again at the end of July.
The second reason is to spur growth.
Why do I want to spur growth?
On a deciduous tree in Florida we have what is called heat dormancy. It usually happens in August and it is what it sounds like. The leaves will start turning and looking ragged
Just like they do when autumn comes around (which is early December or so).
If I do nothing and the heat continues real dormancy will occur (which is caused by reduced daytime light duration, not temperature, as many people believe) and I’ll get no more growth.
But, since I am in Florida, I can take advantage of a “second spring” and get a more growth out of my trees.
Obviously I have to time this correctly, if I wait too long to defoliate I could have new, tender growth that will get frozen in late December.
It’s late August so I think I’m good. That means I will have three months more growth before winter.
Are you jealous?
There are drawbacks.
This short winter season we have means I can’t grow trees that need a long dormancy.
Like Japanese maples.
Still jealous?
I also means much more work for me…….right.
Here’s a brief tutorial on defoliating.
Above is the leaf with a swelling bud at the base of the petiole. The trick is, when removing that leaf, not removing or ruining the bud at the same time.
You could cut every leaf and leave a nub of petiole or, if you pay attention and experiment a little, you can pluck the leaf and save the bud.
In this case I plucked forward. Sometimes you pluck backwards. Sometimes you have to cut.
Like I said, experiment a little.
Here’s the leaf, plucked, with an intact bud
And a branch with the same
It just takes some practice.
The branch above is also indicative of the average growth this tree put out.
About four inches (that’s what she said).
As I go along and defoliate I’ll prune and clean out the dead bits.
I’ll commentate and elucidate as I eradicate the out of date flagellates.
I can simplify some of the branch structures since I have had some new branches; inducting some taper as I go
But since we’re still in an early stage of development, I’ll need to do some comb overs in the more bald areas:
Like here
This area is definitely bald
The top has filled in the most
So I’ll be able to remove some of those “fill in the hole” branches I had to use to fill in the holes.
Now to put some wire back on (I put on the wire, I take off the wire, I put on the wire, I take off the wire….)
Here’s a tip: to avoid this mess
Which happens because those who borrowed your wire were too lazy to find the real end (Erik) and instead just cut in the middle, simply unwind several small lengths and use them
This way you can still take advantage of the price drop when buying bigger rolls of wire but not have a twisted tangled mess. As you wire
Keep taking looks at eye level.
The branch above looks neat but at eye level it looks like this
Arrange the branches so when you look at it you can see the back branch, like this
And all that nifty twisting and manipulating is not lost to the eye.
And to make your wiring more natural, make the bends where the secondary branches emerge from the branch.
And the finished product
You’ll notice I filled in the bald spot.
And in bad light-
The front
I am fertilizing heavily at this time, I want it to push growth as fast as possible before fall.
How’s this pic?
Morning light, front
Little better.
How about 4pm overcast sky light?
The crown/apex structure is still a bit unorthodox I’ll admit but, like I said in the first post, I like it.
This is a bonsai I’m trying to make look like a tree, not vice/versa.

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