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Monthly Tasks – November

Based on San Francisco Bay Area Climate

by Mitsuo Umehara

Early November

Thin needles according to position on the tree
Thin needles according to position on the tree
  1. Connifers – Continue the work started last month. Pull old needles (or cut them at the sheath if they do not pull easily), cut back, and wire. Some transplanting can still be done at this time but if so, the tree must be protected from any cold winter frost.
  2. Black Pines
    1. For a black pine in the “short needle” propagation program, the needles on the new candle (the second candle of the year) should be fully opened by now. Remove the old needles and apply the final fertilizer for this year or switch to 0-10-10 for the winter months.
    2. The black pines scheduled for the “short needle” propagation next year; begin to reduce this year’s needles (not all at once, but in different stages). This will produce stronger buds for next year.
  3. Deciduous Trees
    1. Old wire should be removed. Overgrown branches should be cut back.
    2. Maples, trident maple, beech, birch, and elm: Heavy pruning and wiring is best done after the foliage turns a deep reddish purple but before it falls off the tree.
  4. This is also the best time to transplant shimpaku, apple and karin.


  1. Satsuki –  Enjoy the fall color of the satsuki foliage. Reduce dense foliage and prune and shape overgrown branches. 0-10-10 should be applied as the final fertilizer for this year.
  2. Citrus – Move citrus trees to a warm area to protect them from frost damage.
  3. Grass Materials – Do not remove withered leaves; they will protect roots until spring.


  1. Preparing your bonsai for holiday display: Black pine, ume, and bamboo, which have been trained in a separate pot for Saikei, and other accent materials are needed. Arrange them as desired using either the black pine or the Ume as the main tree. These species should not be kept indoors for longer than a couple of days at a time and should not be placed in a heated environment.
  2. If you didn’t spray in October you should spray this month. Trees should be sprayed after all work is done – and on a dry day when no rain is expected for a day or two. Use Neem, Ultra-Fine or Volck oil or an oil based spray such as Indoor Pharm. You may also choose to use Hydrogen Peroxide diluted 1-tablespoon per cup of water to spray mold and fungus. Neem oil will also treat fungus and bacterial infections. Do not spray trees that will be displayed in an exhibit within the next few weeks.
    1. Check for soil dryness the day before spraying. The soil should be moist.
    2. Do not use Volck oil on cedar varieties. Volck oil is caustic so be sure to look for other dormant spray oils. You can still order Volck spray from places like Amazon.com. Alternatives include Safe Brand 5118 Insect soap, Bonide All Season Horticultural Oil and Garden Safe Neem Oil for organic gardening.
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