Peter Tea Bonsai
Peak of Summer
We’re now heading into the hottest month of the year. I hope that you and your trees are keeping hydrated. August can be a challenging month for many of us. Some of us have to water our trees twice a day now due to the heat. The heat also makes it difﬁcult for us to stay focused on what needs to be done and what can be done to the trees. We already have a hard time being outside in the heat, let alone work on trees at that same time. Some of us on the other hand loves the warm weather and are the most active during this time of year. Which ever applies to you, it’s important to understand how our trees are taking this heat and ﬁgure out what can be done to them during this month.
Many trees tend to slow down in growth during the hottest month of the year to protect themselves. It’s sort of a mini dormancy they go through just like Winter dormancy. For those of us that live in cooler areas, the tree will continue to grow throughout the Summer. Just because our trees are in a short dormancy doesn’t mean they require less water. Watering is very crucial at this time of year because our trees will quickly deteriorate if not properly hydrated. Be sure to check your trees and get a feel for how much water they are using and adjust your watering schedule. Even if your trees are not pulling water, evaporation is taking place so be sure to keep the trees hydrated.
Take care not to overhead water your trees during the hot months. If the foliage is exposed to water during the middle of the day, the Sun light could be magniﬁed and cause damage to the foliage. Stick to watering the soil only. In this way, the foliage stays healthier and can produce more food for the tree.
Heat Related Pest
The biggest pest issues we have during the Summer is going to be Spider mites. They mostly attack our pines, juniper and oaks, though they will attack a whole array of trees species. The hotter it gets, the more aggressive the spider mites will get. Be sure to keep up your pest protection, be it either chemical pesticides or horticultural oil type sprays. Trees that are allowed to dry out too much during the Summer will weaken and Spider Mites tend to seek them out ﬁrst. So be sure to keep up on the watering and examine your trees closely.
Trees to Work on this Month
Many of us believe that August is not the month to work on many trees. That is not the case. Though after working on our trees, we do have to protect them from the sun for several weeks before putting them back in the sun. During this month, we can work on any tree except for Black/Red Pines. If your high mountain pine foliage has hardened off, then we can work on them as well though normally, the foliage wouldn’t have hardened off till September.
If the leaves have hardened off from the last time you’ve worked on it, this could be the time to work on it again. Things we may do include, wiring, removing wire, cutting, thinning and defoliating.
This month you can treat the leafy evergreens the same as a deciduous. They too can be wired, cut, thinned and defoliated.
If your conifers are growing healthy and strong and hasn’t been worked yet this year, then now is a good time to work on them. We can wire, cut and thin the tree if needed.
Hiking in the Mountains
For those that like hiking in the mountains, August is a great time for that. At higher elevations, the temps are cool and very pleasant. If you have free time this month, try to plan a trip to the Sierras and see how different trees grow in the mountains. This is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and study all at the same time. A quick search online will get you started to some great places to hike. If you do decided to go on a hike, always be sure to carry enough water with you, have good hiking shoes and maybe a walking stick for extra support.
August vs. September and beyond
Not much has changed this month versus the previous months but it will once we head into September. During that time we can really start working on our high mountain pines and start grafting certain trees. We can even repot Junipers during that month. Just hang in there for one more month and we’ll be moving on to other techniques and a change in pace.
I hope all of you are doing well. I’ll see you all at the workshop!