Central Virginia Bonsai Society
below from the June 15, 2020, CVBS Newsletter
SUMMER IS HERE> This year spring was mostly warm with lots of rain. A dry spell has been with us for the last couple of weeks and we head into summer heat with the ground being drier than most gardeners would like. Since we water our bonsai daily, our potted trees should be doing OK. Things you may be growing in the ground are probably drier than would be best for good growth. An occasional assist with the hose should help the special things in the ground be happy until summer showers replenish the moisture in the ground.
Leaves of Most deciduous trees are hardened off or nearly so. That means that fertilizer programs for the deciduous bonsai can join the fertilizer program for prebonsai which should have been in progress. The black pine group should continue to be fertilized regularly to build strength to carry them through the stress of the upcoming shoot pruning in early July. The rest of the two needle and five needles pines should not be fertilized until their needles harden off, usually in early July. Sometimes the hardening off is signaled by a change in needle color from light green to dark green. In others, the sudden shedding of the tiny translucent sheath at the base of the needles is a sign that hardening off has occurred. Many leaves/needles are a bit larger than desired this year due to the wet spring in our area. This is probably a fair trade for the excellent growing conditions we have experienced (most of the time).
Most seeds should be sprouting now. J5NP seeds are finally emerging for me. Persimmon seed are still hiding from sight. It’s really a little early for persimmons. They tend to sprout late in the season every year.
There was scattered damage to new growth from our last frost. My J5NP seedlings seemed to get the worst of it. There is much brown in the new growth. They are tough little plants so I expect them to survive nicely but may not look quite as full as they would have.
Insects seem to be pleased with our warm wet spring. Pine tip moths are around and have killed the tips on some of the new pine growth. There are a variety of controls for these pests but most are very strong measures. I prefer to take a little undesired pruning rather than using the strong insecticides on all of the pines. I do look for the characteristic yellowing of a few needles at the tip of an infected shoot. The tip of the infected shoot will twist off easily because the tip moth larva eats the inside of the stem at the tip of the shoot. Close inspection of the part which is twisted off will usually reveal a cute green worm sleeping in the inside of the hollowed out stem. It is a good idea to destroy the cute green worm so that it doesn’t mature, fly away and make even more worms to eat your pines. Pictures are attached to this newsletter showing the brown needles and a more advanced stage of the little green worm. The stage shown is a chrysalis about to change into a moth which will go out and make more little green worms.
The perennial attack of super aphids has started on my princess persimmons. I was unable to find the Bayer granular insecticide containing “Merit” locally so I settled for a Disyston formulation for initial treatment. It is a much milder systemic but requires frequent application. After the initial application of Disyston, I ordered the Bayer granular “Tree and Shrub Feed and Protect” and applied it. Now there is no sign of the aphids and all the new growth is undistorted and normal in appearance.
Vigilance for insects and disease are part of the daily chores in maintaining healthy bonsai. Every plant on my benches gets a quick look when the daily watering is done. If there is time for just wandering around and enjoying the trees, an eye is always out for threats from insects or other sources. This is good bonsai practice. It will help prevent minor threats from becoming big threats.
Tree frogs are very numerous this year, probably due to the wet spring. I find them under pots and in other odd places. They are noisy in a pleasant way and earn their place by eating bugs of all sorts around the trees.
ADAMS’ BONSAI HAPPENINGS> The Covid virus restrictions continue to keep me at home more than normal. Many, perhaps most, of chores neglected for months have been addressed and completed. A major beneficiary of the mandatory time at home has been the bonsai garden. My trees and prebonsai have never been in better shape. Pruning, feeding, watering, rotation, and general neatness are being handled in a timely unrushed way. All the pots containing dead plants have been removed from the benches. Weeds are mercilessly removed. Even the daylilies, hydrangeas, and other ornamentals around the garden are weeded and watered to look their best. It should always be this way but most years there hasn’t been enough time.
It’s almost exactly three months until the National Exhibition in Rochester. I worry about it being affected by virus issues in NY but it’s out of my hands. I hope the NY governor doesn’t block it.
Loss of all of the early season vending opportunities has put a big dent in the financial side of Adams’ Bonsai. Were it not for Covid I would be enjoying the NC bonsai Festival this weekend rather than writing this newsletter. On the bright side, removing those vending opportunities has given time for plants to mature and for new ones to be created. Eventually this will make more satisfied customers. Unfortunately, many of the vendors need the income which has been lost. Some may have to consider getting out of the bonsai business. That would be a sad outcome.
STAYING HEALTHY> Some of good health is beyond our control but there are many things we can do as individuals to improve our individual chances of surviving the threats to our health and that of others. It seems obvious that wearing a mask when in crowds will help protect oneself and others from transmission of many diseases including the virus. A lifetime of not smoking is likely to result in lungs better able to withstand attack. Getting enough exercise to keep our parts working will help us enjoy life a bit more while supporting a reserve for dealing with disease. Many of these actions are easy to overlook but getting “in the habit” makes them easier.
It's never to late to start. Stay healthy! Julian