Peter Tea’s October Write-Up

Peter Tea Bonsai!

October 2014!

Fall in Full Effect

Now that we’re into October and the weather is cooling down, we should all see a growth spurt with many of our trees. The temps are just warm enough that the trees go through a short push before they slow down for Winter.

There are many things we can do with our trees at this time of year. Most of the work will be with Conifers such as Junipers and High Mountain Pines, Cedars, Spruce and Cypress. During this month, we can continue to wire, cut and style these trees. For those that have fairly mild Winters, you can repot your Junipers at this time as well.

Other types of trees we can work on this month are Broad Leaf Evergreens. We can wire and style them at this time of year though I would be less aggressive with the cuts so that they can stay strong through the Winter.

Japanese Black Pines

Hold off on working on Japanese Black/Red Pines during the month of October. November or December is a better time. I will discuss more about what we can do with them in next months newsletter.

Deciduous Trees

October is not the best time to work on deciduous trees in general. They too will be addressed in the month of November. The reason why we don’t want to work on Deciduous trees now is because they are still active and will respond to cutting. If new shoots start to grow this month and next, the foliage may not have enough time to harden off before Winter. If it gets too cold, the fragile leave will burn and die off. This will stress the tree significantly.

It’s also on the late side to work on tropicals so hold off any major work till the temperature warms up again in the Spring of 2015.

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:


Root Scissors

Root Cutters

Root rake

Bent nose tweezers

Aluminum wire (1.5 mm to 2.5mm depending on the side of the tree)


Screen (for drain holes)

Suitable size pot


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 and deciduous trees.

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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