I love this trunk. I really do. It’s old looking.

It says to me,

“Get off my lawn you disrespectful piss-ant. Have some respect for your elders and those in charge and wait for them to throw you a scrap…..”

Or it might be saying “old, seasoned, experienced, worn and scarred”

One or the other……

It’s definitely a survivor. It lost its whole top (bonsai top, not real tree top) in Hurricane Irma. And it’s character is very much in the “old tree” typecast we in the Bonsai world get caught up in. Not classic deciduous tree old but the new old trope (that’s a lotta oxymoronical grasping)

Since you’ve seen it last, it’s grown in the same way a dervish whirls.

The one lil’ bit of wire I put on in the last post, not even 8 inches long, is, of course, cutting in.

To see what it looked like earlier in the year, here’s the last restyle post.

In addition to the wire cutting in, its shot out a bunch of new and useful (and many useless) branches.

At this time of the year, mid summer, it’s usually time for a quick guiding prune and rewire session on deciduous trees. Up north you’d start thinking about doing it mid June, whereas down here we have a little longer. You want there to be enough time for new leaves to grow and mature, and add carbohydrate for the tree to store for next springs new growth.

Now, down here in Florida, on many deciduous trees, I’ll get one more hard pruning at the end of the summer, which, unfortunately, many trees up in the more temperate regions can’t handle. Our trees don’t go dormant until late, sometimes, even in January.

Now, its pretty healthy except…

We got some holes.

And see the off color?

I’ve been watching the beginners forums and it seems people get really anxious when they see stuff like this. I understand, a newbie who has one or two trees would get anxious.

But most bugs or diseases are easily treatable. Commercially prepared treatments have been worked out and, if you follow the directions? They are effective. There are scientists that get paid mucho dinero to figure out how to control these problems. What you need to learn is how to distinguish between disease, bug damage, and such.

And plants are evolved to replace damaged leaves. First, remove the affected foliage, as those leaves tend to be an energy draw, being damaged, than a positive energy source (to review: plants use healthy leaves to gather sunlight and then, using water, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and the sun, create carbohydrates, which the tree uses to grow. Damaged leaves don’t make much energy, but, in fact use energy).

Let me expose the trunk a little…,

Now we can start to work on the branches.

Let’s see here……Aha!! Look closely at the pic below…..mealy bugs.

The bane of a hackberry’s existence in Florida. They are endemic and annoying. Easily treated too. I prefer a granular, systemic insecticide like imidacloprid. There are a few brands you can find using that ingredient so don’t get too caught up on names.

If you wish, you can use an oil spray, or an insecticidal soap spray, or neem oil, which is kinda both (it’s a refined oil but has lipids too)

Or…..you can use my totally unique (stolen) and new (old as the 1950’s) horticulture tonic:

To one gallon of water (or use a hose end sprayer that can be dialed to a one gallon spray rate)

One teaspoon of regular blue dish soap, one tablespoon of a light oil (like grape seed, or canola. You want it to be more refined, less viscous, than something like olive oil or crisco). One teaspoon of Listerine, or generic, original flavor. The yellow stuff your grandpa or great grandpa used. And one half of a can of beer. Any old crap like Bud Light or Michelob Ultra (there goes those sponsorships).

Spray in the early morning (early meaning at dawn, not like my early, which is around ten AM) or as the sun is just setting. You’ll need to repeat about 3-4 times, once a week, to get all the life cycles of the bugs.

The tonic is a good bath bomb too, really opens up the pores and invigorates the…ah…mucous membranes……

A quick pruning….

Normally I’d unwind the wire but I’m finding myself just a little weak of late. Out come the wire cutters.

I’m thinking I can cut the branch for taper.


And, instead of wire I’m feeling some clip and grow would be good for the look.

Clip and grow is a simple concept, a branch will grow in the direction of the last bud you leave.

Meaning the bud just before my finger, on the left, will grow towards you, the viewer

But….clip and grow won’t get us everywhere we must go. Wire is, in my view, essential.

I’ll leave the top I’m touched except to defoliate, but leave the grow tips intact.

Fertilize, this time it’s MiacleGro Shake N Feed with organics mixed in.

And let it grow!

Here’s that apical grow tip intact and ready for prime time.

I do apologize about the lack of backdrop in the pics these last few posts, but, as I mentioned earlier, I’m weak and finding it a bit difficult to move the bigger trees during my convalescence.

This area being the photo spot.

But I think you can see where I’m going from this pic. You just gotta zoom in.

Well, you can see where the tree is going. For me, I’m going crazy.

Probably. Maybe.

But aren’t we all now?

5 thoughts

  1. Thanks again, Adam, for your work, wisdom, and shear motivation; glad you’re doing better. I’d like to know if what you described can be applied to a Ficus benjamina, and if I could do it now ( it’s PR, so, kinda hot and humid throughout the year). Thanks in advance!


    1. You can do much more being in Puerto Rico on a ficus than what we can do to a deciduous tree here.
      And you can do it year round.
      On Benjamina, just make sure you keep a little green on the branch. They are notorious for branch die back.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This damage was done in nature, and it grew back in the ground. Damage like this intentionally done in a pot can kill a tree if it doesn’t have the energy to compensate.
      Believe me, I know!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s