December Meeting

December 19th @ 7:00PM - Club Members Only

Our December program will be a holiday party to socialize with fellow club members and their families. Once again, Donna Farmer has graciously volunteered to organize our party and Charlene Fischer and Lynne O’ Dell have volunteered to assist her. What you need to know

  • The club is providing a main dish of ham, turkey, and wine.
  • Each person attending should bring a potluck dish that serves 6 to 8. The potluck dish should be a salad, vegetable, side dish, or dessert.
  • All attendees may participate in our holiday gift exchange. Simply bring a gift that is wrapped and valued around $25. Bonsai-related items or Japanese art are usually preferred but other items like wine and chocolate are usually a hit too.
  • A special benefit drawing for club members in attendance will be held. Jerry has already collected some club-provided gifts for this drawing but is looking for additional donations if you have an item. Club members present will get a free ticket to participate in the holiday drawing. Our regular benefit drawing will resume in January.

So come and share some holiday cheer and great food, reminisce about the years that have come and gone, and enjoy getting to know your fellow club members in the process. You're sure to have a Ho, Ho, Ho lot of fun.

Note that Show & Tell is optional this month. If you have a tree you really want everyone to see, feel free to bring it in!!!

Club News

Sandy Planting Receives "Circle of Sensei Award"

In 2001, Golden State Bonsai Federation (GSBF) established its most prestigious award — The Circle of Sensei Award to honor those individuals who have influenced the bonsai world by being teachers of the bonsai art form and by their dedication and commitment to bonsai in California.

At the 2014 Annual GSBF Convention, Sandy Planting received the Circle of Sensei award for her 37 years of teaching the art of bonsai via her set of beginner classes, workshops, and club demonstrations. The club congratulates Sandy for this well deserved award.

The award consists of a round medallion with the outline of the State of California and the GSBF logo at its center and an accompanying certificate.


November Potting Party of The Season

It was a good turnout for our first potting party for the 2015 show. The club thanks John and Sandy Planting for hosting, Charlene Fischer for getting the bonsai pots and other supplies to and fro, Dave Curbow for making the potting soil and dropping it off, and Zoltan Gulyas, Mark O’Brien, Charlene, Barbara Shahinian, Hal Jerman, Janet Refvem, Jerry Carpenter, Michael Greenstein, Alison Williams, Lynne O’Dell, Marissa Lee, Desmond Johnson, Stephanie North, Diane Churchill, and John and Sandy for their work on all the trees. A good turnout indeed! Next parties are January 25 and March 1.

Timely Work Schedule

Each month there are a number of tasks you need to do to your bonsai - from repotting, to fertilizing to spraying for pests. We have put together a checklist, customized for the San Francisco Bay Area to help you. This checklist is adapted from earlier work by Mitsuo Umehara.

This month: December Tasks

November Meeting Recap

Jerry Carpenter did an excellent job of deciphering all the material available out there on winter prep and presenting a cohesive winter prep program.

Clean up:  Remove moss, weeds, and dead leaves that have fallen atop the soil. Moss can cause root rot and provides a place for bugs to hide. Tweezers can be used as well as rounded-off chopsticks to remove the moss. Make sure the bark on your black pine doesn't have moss on it - remove it very carefully with very fine tweezers. The wetter the moss, the easier it will come off so spray the moss with water to cause it to release from the bark. A lot of people use a soft brush to brush the moss off their tree - do NOT use a metal brush to do this! You can also use vinegar to kill the moss. Apply the vinegar using a small paintbrush - dab the vinegar on very carefully. If the vinegar gets in the soil it can kill the tree.

Trees closer to the ground attract mill bugs that want to lay eggs in the tree. So make sure you clean your benches and underneath your pots.

Clean up your maple trees now by removing all the leaves on the branches.

Winter watering: Water your trees as needed. Even though it has rained you may still need to water. Use your finger or a chopstick to test the soil. Put a stone under one end of the pot to help drain the soil when you think it has been over-watered because of heavy rain. Remember to move the stone to the other end of the pot after a week or so.

If temperatures drop, don't let the roots freeze dry. Water your trees before the freeze - water the foliage of the tree to protect the buds and the roots.

Fertilizer and Fungi: Pines and other evergreen trees continue to grow in the winter so continue to rotate them or move them around to equalize sun exposure for all sides of the tree. Lower the amount of fertilizer you're using on your pines and junipers if you see a lot of moss growing. For deciduous trees, you should use a 0-10-10 fertilizer.

Use anti-fungal oils to prevent fungi. Rosemary oil can be used instead of Neem oil. Both are natural insect repellents and a safe pesticide choice.

Temperature sensitive trees: Bring your tropical trees indoor. Ficus cannot handle temperatures below 50 degrees. Only put them outside when the temperature outside is within 10 degrees of indoor temperatures. Olives stop growing below 40 degrees - move in and out as needed. A heat pad can also be used to up the temperatures for tropical trees.

For prolonged cold periods, keep trees indoor and place trees on humidity trays without water and use a fan to move air around since tropical trees like moving humid air. During a prolonged freeze, fruiting trees such as citrus, and flowering trees such as gardenia and Bougainvillea should be brought indoors too.

Shohin need special care. Anything in a shallow pot will freeze quickly and need to come inside if it freezes or you have a heavy frost. A prolonged freeze can also cause your bonsai pot to crack. Trees should be protected from cold winds too.

Pines and Sierra junipers never come indoors.

Fruiting trees: Use flat edge cutters, versus concave cutters, for fruiting trees. The goal is to make a flat cut that's a clean cut without splitting the bark. Hexall can be used to clean each tool before moving to another tree.

On an Ume you want to cut back to the buds that are closest to the trunk. Cut back Ume twice a year - once when leaves are still on and once when only the buds are on. Cut back and leave four or five buds on the branch. Often older wood doesn't bud so it's common to graft branch tips onto the tree. Use a grafting knife to clean up the cut and round it off and then apply a liquid cut paste to seal it. It is best to cut it back in the early fall when it still has the leaves on it - keep five leaves on each branch. Behind every leaf is where the bud is. Flowering season is January. Best to repot Ume in September and October. Must repot before it blooms versus afterwards.

When cutting thorns off small flowering quince make sure you don't remove it completely or you are cutting the blossom off too.

Don't cut fruiting and flowering trees during the summer because you increase the risk of introducing bugs, fungus, and Nematodes to the tree. Cut aggressively in spring and cut again in the fall. Flowering Cherry trees have lots of buds so you can be aggressive and cut back for the desired shape of the canopy. As they will tolerate more cut back, you only need to keep four or five sets of buds.

Chinese quince like to grow in long runs so you must prune new growth back every other day in the spring to promote good ramification. Right now, prune each leaf off but leave a small part of the stem and you should get blooms in the spring. Don't leave all the fruit on the tree to maintain the strength of the tree. On flowering quince don't cut thorns all the way to the base. Again, make sure your tools are sharp to get the desired cut.

Apple trees are prone to bug and disease. Remove flaky bark along edge of cut and then fill it to make the cut look better. Reduce number of fruit on tree. Poor root development is common for apple trees and it’s hard to keep their roots healthy. Don't barefoot the tree when repotting especially if the tree is older as that will shock the tree. But do remove older mucky soil when repotting. This is the time to repot apple trees. Beware of where the buds are when wiring.

Wisteria buds are already forming. Defoliate because the leaves have already done their duty. Cut all the runners off too as they have provided all the energy they can to the tree to help thicken the trunk. Cut back to a bud to cause ramification as wisteria want to grow leggy.

Wiring: Chinese quince can wire mark easily so make sure you watch its growth pattern very carefully. Wire marks don't recover and more likely you will have to remove the branch and start over. Jerry uses paper from window blinds and wraps the copper wire before he wires the tree. Copper is preferred but will stain the bark. The paper will protect the branch from overheating, prevents wire marks, staining, and allows you to use copper to get the heavy bends you want. Olive bark also scars easily. Trees with very thin skin can be wired using paper wrapped copper.

Another option is to use white florist tape to wrap your copper wire. The paper from the blind doesn't break down quickly and therefore will last longer. Cloth shouldn't be used as it will stay wet and harm the branch.
Nasty looking cuts that haven't healed over can be filled with putty to improve their look. Paper wrapped copper wire should be used on apple trees.

Lastly, bonsai supplies: Remember to bring them inside too.

Thank you Jerry for a most informative program that was well attended!