Peter Tea’s September Write-Up

Peter Tea Bonsai

September 2014

Last Call for Deciduous Trees

Now that September is here, we are going to change the pace and work on some of our other types of trees. Since the Fall is cool like Spring, it allows us to apply certain techniques this time of year that we normally apply in the Spring. Think of Fall as a mini Spring.

For the most part, the first half of September is just about the last time we can work on our deciduous trees until they turn color in November or December. The reason for this is because any later than September and the new foliage will not have enough time to harden off before Winter arrives. The new tender foliage will start to freeze and significantly weaken the tree. This also goes the same for fruiting and flowering type trees.

High Mountain Pines

September is the first month we can start working on High Mountain Pines. September thru February is the time we can wiring, cutting and removable of old needles. Towards February we can repot the tree as well though I don’t recommend wiring and repotting the tree at the same time. September is also the time to start feeding High Mountain Pines. This is especially important because the food you give it will determine how well the tree grows the following Spring.


Fall is a great time to perform side grafting on conifers, such as Junipers and Pines. This is where you cut new growth off the tree and graft it into the interior of the tree. As long as your Winters aren’t too severe, grating is very safe and sometimes preferable to Spring grafting. Just be sure that your tree is healthy before you start to graft. If your  Winters are especially cold, then hold off till February. If the night time temps drops below freezing consistently, then your Winter is too harsh for grafting.

If you plan too or like to learn how to perform a side graft at the next workshop, be sure to have the following tools and materials for the process. Fall grafting can be done in September and October.

Tools and Materials needed for side grafting:

Japanese Grafting Knife                                                                                                       Garden Type tape (thinner is better than thicker versions)                           Cotton Balls                                                                                                                                 Small plastic baggies                                                                                                               Liquid cut paste                                                                                                                         Cups to hold water                                                                                                                   Small flat wooden block                                                                                                         Roll of painters tape

Repotting Junipers

Juniper repotting can be done in the Fall as well. We can do it either in September or October. Again, if your Winter is too harsh, then wait till February to repot. If the night time temps drops below freezing consistently, then your Winter is too harsh for repotting. Here are a list of tools and materials you will need for repotting.

Tools and Materials needed for repotting:

Pliers                                                                                                                                                 Root Scissors                                                                                                                               Root Cutters                                                                                                                                 Root rake                                                                                                                                       Bent nose tweezers                                                                                                                 Aluminum wire (1.5 mm to 2.5mm depending on the side of the tree)   Brush                                                                                                                                                 Screen (for drain holes)                                                                                                         Suitable size pot                                                                                                                         Soil                                                                                                                                                     Soil scoop                                                                                                                                       Soil sifter                                                                                                                                         Soil Tamper

For those that would like a review of repotting, please refer to the January and February write-ups for 2014.

Trees to Work on This Month

We can work on just about any tree this month except for Japanese Red/Black Pines. The next time to work on them is in November.

Sharpening Tools

At some point we all have to sharpen our tools. For the next few months, I will bring my sharpening tools and show study group members how I sharpen my tools. Having sharp tools is important because clean cuts always heals better than rough cuts. When tools are dull, they tend to crush more than cut. The crushing effect will cause the branch to die back more than normal and in some cases, cause the branch to die off completely. Also, using dull tools causes more hand fatigue than using sharp tools. Since Bonsai is already hard enough, lets try not to make it harder for us and use nice sharp tools.

If you need any tools or supplies for repotting or grafting, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do to help you find them.

See you all at the workshop!

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