What special type of idiot could I possibly be?
I know I’m in Florida and all, but who, in their right mind, would even think of defoliating a Brazilian Raintree in the middle of winter?
I mean, even though we aren’t freezing, it’s not exactly a balmy time of the year, especially when the end of January comes around.
And don’t forget February.
Maybe it was that one day when it was 85 and then just a few days later it was 90 (when the rest of the country was in a deep freeze) and the heat must have addled my brain…..IDK, but it just seems to be the right thing to do.
One of the themes in my blog is the seasonal performance of bonsai techniques; doing things at the correct time of the year.
A tangential sub-theme though, is practicing our “tree whispering” skills and learning when it’s ok to use some techniques out of season.
Like the junipers I did in June.
(Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone but I’ve been bare-rooting ficus microcarpa this month too).
Take this Brazilian Raintree I’m about to go all Brazilian wax on (do you see what I did there? Damn I’m good. Waiting for my Pulitzer or the blog equivalent), no one defoliates them now.
Let me show you exhibit A:
Notice the wilting leaves?
The BRT is in the legume family and the leaves on them will close up like this when conditions change; i.e, night falling, rain, dry, and even just moving them indoors for ten minutes (which is why they are always ugly in an indoor display).
This particular tree is almost always wilting now, even when it’s well watered, so I got down to some serious investerating and….
Wait a minute…
That’s it. Look at that!
The buds are swelling and the old leaves are just old and getting in the way.
I’ll just have to help the tree along I guess.
I will remove the wire now too.
I last worked on this tree in June (A Few Brazilian Raintree Bonsai) and, as with many of my bonsai this year, didn’t grow much. We had a lot of rain and when a tree doesn’t have a need to search out water by growing roots, it doesn’t grow too much on top.
How I know that it didn’t grow is the fact that the wire’s been on since June and it’s not cutting in hardly at all.
First, defoliation.
The BRT, being a legume, has a compound leaf.
This whole structure in my hand above is just one leaf. The little leafy looking things are called, appropriately, leaflets.
Snippety snippety snip snip!
Now you can see the structure.
I’ll take the wire off and then I’ll show the finish photo from the June post.
Jeez, what a mess.
Here is the tree in June-
And today-
The reason it didn’t grow was (I think) because it was content and comfortable and didn’t need to grow. Maybe there’s a lesson about life (and not just bonsai) we can learn from this.
I’m not going to put any wire back on it today.
I’ll just give it some trimming for movement.
Some fertilizer (Milorganite)
And now for some centerfold shots:
The beautiful pot is by Paul Katich (Bellota Enterprises- they usually sell at Kawa Bonsai’s Joy of Bonsai show in January and at the Bonsai Societies of Florida’s annual convention in May).
Maybe I’ll get some ramification this winter. Ha!
I’m thinking that I might do some drastic pruning in the spring and perhaps a different pot.
Any thoughts? Of course I’ll let you know what happens to the tree, hopefully I haven’t killed it in my hubris.
It’s been a great year for the blog and hopefully my posts have been informative and entertaining.
This will be the last post of 2013 so may you all have a happy New Year and I’ll talk to you again in 2014.

10 thoughts

  1. Thanks for tremendous amount of information and corky insights about bonsai. Wishing you and your family a happy and prosperous new year Adam.


  2. I like the flow of the tree. I also want you to know that I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts this past year. From your kindness and eagerness to share your knowledge, I’ve learned there’s no such thing as a “dumb question”. I’ve picked up some good pointers that I know I’ll be able to use. I’ve smiled a lot, and even had a belly laugh or two. Really enjoyed 2013 and looking forward to greater 2014. Happy New Year to you and yours – stay safe.


  3. Adam…thank you for waking my interest in Bonsai again. I accidentally froze two old willow leaf ficus trees I had for many years and was dropping out but found your informative and hilarious blog and am heading out to look for more outdoor! material…for zone 7. I will merge this reawakening with my just woke up interest in cold hardy palm trees…they’re doing great so far.


    1. Mike,
      I would need to see them first before I gave you that advice. I am very vigilant to the needs of my trees and I saw that this was what this particular tree needed. I have many others that are doing fine and don’t need defoliating.


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