Monthly Tasks – July

Based on San Francisco Bay Area Climate

by Mitsuo Umehara

Early July

  1. Treatment for accidentally dried-out deciduous trees.
    1. Move to a shady area, mist-spray wilted leaves and water the pot generously.
    2. If the tree doesn’t recover within 24 hours, tilt the pot and drain all excess water out. Mist-spray the leaves daily. In a week or so, all the wilted leaves will fall off and within the next couple of weeks, the new buds will form.
    3. Return the pot to its normal location and return to routine maintenance.
    4. CAUTION – While in recovery be careful not to over water – it will cause root-rot. Also, do not fertilize at this time.
  2. Satsuki Azaleas – Shaping and cut-back
    1. Reduce branchlets to two branches and two leaves on each branchlet.
    2. On branches that have reached their desired length, cut all the way back to last year’s leaflets.
    3. For mature trees, cut branches back more than the length you have in mind. This will give you the “right” length and shape following the flowering season. Cut back to the two-year old branch; eliminate excess branchlets.
  3. Satsuki Azaleas – Cuttings
    1. Careful selection of the branches are required to attain the distinction of the particular colors and variety
    2. Select strong branches
    3. Soil for cuttings should be 50% sand and 50% peat moss, four-inches deep. Or, use eight parts Perlite to one part each peat moss and vermiculite. Space the cuttings in the soil so that the leaves of the cuttings are barely touching each other.
    4. Protect in semi-shade area, mist-spray two or three times a day.
    5. In 40 to 50 days, the cuttings will root and be ready to transplant.
    6. For more details see this article – Propagation of Woody Plants by Cuttings by Brent Walson.
  4. Satsuki Azaleas – Transplanting
    While March is the best time to transplant Satsuki, you can also transplant them following the flowering and cut-back. Keep in mind that the amount of root reduction must be equal to the branch reduction. Don’t over do it. Since it’s dry season right now, also protect the transplanted tree in a shade area and mist-spray the leaves for a week or so.


  1. Air-layered deciduous tree.
    1. The deciduous trees that are air-layered in the month of May should be showing white roots, visible through the plastic covering. Rotate the pot so that the roots will develop evenly all around the trunk perimeter.
    2. Assuming sphagnum moss was used in the initial air-layering, when five to six roots change color to brown, replace the plastic cover with a six-to-seven inch plastic pot.
    3. Slit one side of the pot all the way down to the bottom. Widen the drainage hole big enough to fit around the tree trunk easily.
    4. Remove the plastic from the root ball and slip on the plastic pot around it. Use tape to secure it tight to the tree. Fill the plastic pot with a soil mixture of one-half sand and one-half peat. Water the pot once every two to three days.
    5. By the beginning of September, the plastic pot should be filled with new roots. Detach from the mother tree, shape, and plant in the bonsai pot.
  2. Fruit Trees – Some fruit and berry bearing trees need pollination; trees like akebia and bittersweet especially. Watch the spring growth of the male trees and adjust the female trees’ environment so that both trees will bloom at the same time for better pollination.

Late July

  1. Five needle pine and black pine – The needles that are now fully grown and now dense branchlets need to be thinned out to let the sun penetrate the smaller inner branchlets and cause more even and balanced growth to occur.
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