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Monthly Tasks – September

Based on San Francisco Bay Area Climate

by Mitsuo Umehara

Early September

  1. Five Needle Pines (Shikoku and Miyajima variety)
    1. A grafted five-needle pine is stronger than one started from seed, making it more durable in the area where the environment is different from its native location. Even though the following instruction is for a grafted tree, it only applies if the grafted tree is very healthy. After the needles are fully opened on this year’s candle, buds for two candles will form. Nipping these buds (strong one’s only) will induce yet more buds. These buds will stay until spring; remove old needles by cutting them at the sheath at the same time.
    2. Yatsubusa variety. Removal of this year’s second growth will induce yet additional new buds. However, these buds will not grow till next spring. In comparison to Kokonoe and the other Yatsubusa variety, the Zuisho have stronger lower branches. In order to balance the growing power, remove fewer old needles from the crown area and more from the lower area. In other words, reverse the normal rules of needle reduction.
    3. A five-needle pine started from a seedling is not as strong as a grafted one. So, preferably, bud nipping should be done only once – in the spring. In the fall, just shape the trees. Change the apex if necessary and redirect branch tips if needed.
  2. Black Pine
    1. The trees must be in good health.
    2. Cut off this year’s growth at the candle base / stub.
    3. Remove old needles (pull needles leaving the sheath), removing more from the top area and less from the lower area. (Use the 4/6/8 pair ratio) This is to balance the growing power and to induce new buds. The buds will not grow till next spring, but this is a good way to start new branches on your young developing trees.
  3. Fertilize – Autumn feeding should be applied generously. (For more information see Fertilizer Basics.)
    1. For flowering, fruit, and berry producing trees: Use low nitrogen fertilizer (look for bulb and bloom fertilizer) or Seaweed extract when you water.
    2. For deciduous trees: Apply 0-10-10, such as E.B. Stone Ultrabloom
  4. Watering – Adjust watering as the daylight becomes shorter.
  5. Sunlight – The deciduous trees kept under semi-shaded area should now be brought out gradually to full sun exposure.
  6. Pest Control – The pests such as red spider mite, caterpillar, looper, and farias reseifoera (eats Satsuki buds), etc., will damage your trees. Don’t forget to keep them under control.

Mid and Late September

  1. Mid-September through the end of October is a good time to shape and transplant many varieties of trees. They include black pine, red pine, Nishiki-Matsu, Goyo-Matsu, cypress, redwood, yew, yezo-spruce, cedar, shimpaku, maple, kaede, quince, sinensis, jasminum nudiflorum, crabapple, cherry, plums, pyracantha, hawthorne, and others.
  2. Chinese quince (chaenomeles sinensis) and crabapple tree branches that were allowed to grow wildly, must now be cut back. On the first cut, take two-thirds off. After all the foliage has dropped and the tree is bare, cut it to the desired length and shape.
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