All posts by Fred Meyer

Bonsai bugs!

shutterstock_31707127Bonsai trees are very delicate and are susceptible to decay, disease, damage, and infestations by pests. Lack of proper care is one of the top reasons for these problems, and if your tree gets into trouble you will need to know how to treat the tree without damaging it.

Some of the problems that you may come across include spider mites, scale insects, mealy bugs, aphids, green fly, black fly, and gall aphid. There are also several different types of moths that can attack a bonsai tree. They include the goat moth, leopard moth, geometer moth, and ermine moths.

You will want to watch the leaves of your plant, spider mites and greenhouse mites attack the bottom of the leaves that will leave marks, holes and discoloration as signs that they are present. You may also notice webs on the tree, as there are some types of pests that will leave webs as an indication of infestation. You will need to treat the tree at the first sign of infestation. Spray the foliage, especially the undersides, with insecticides, mild symptoms can be handled with acaricides. You will want to use a variety of acaricides to keep the pest from adapting to the chemical. Red mites and spider mites will also attack the needles of evergreen trees and will need to be treated immediately. With evergreen trees, check the cracks in the bark for eggs, this is the mites preferred location for laying eggs.

The needles of evergreen trees will turn a brownish color when they are infested. Caution is needed though, be aware that evergreen needles will turn this color naturally during its’ winter dormancy period. Look for the webs that the mites leave as an indicator also. If your bonsai is evergreen or deciduous you can wait until warm weather and do further treatment by removing, and destroying the affected branches, and foliage.

Another sign of infestation that you can check is the leaves for the eggs. Most pests will attach their eggs to the bottoms of the leaves, and these will show up as red spots on the leaf. The eggs can be destroyed with oil-based products, or if the eggs are found on very few leaves, you may just remove and destroy the affected leaves.

Feed that blooming bonsai!

florlion-(c)-ShutterstockThe proper soil and fertilization rates are imperative for a healthy bonsai. Typical bonsai soil is a fast draining loose mix of several compounds such as course sand, gravel, fired clay pellets, expanded shale, peat, and bark. Dependent upon your location the soil components may change or some extra components added such as in Japan the use of volcanic soils.

The harmonic mixture of organic and inorganic components set the base for the cultivation of your bonsai tree. The fast draining soil harmonizes with the bonsai containers made specifically for proper water drainage. The whole beginning process of acquiring the proper soil for your specific species of bonsai compliments the whole harmony effect achieved from a finished bonsai masterpiece.

Soils that contain little to no clay or native soil to the specific species of bonsai requires regular fertilization to overcome the soils lacking. Bonsai planted in non soil components definitely need nutrient elements added.

Plants fluctuate significantly in their reactions to soil nutrients that are programmed in their natural growth rates, the length of their growth periods, their ages, the types of root systems they have, and their ability to take in nutrients. Plants have broadly diverse growth rates and amplified nutrient intensities in the soil will not change natural growth rates. For an example, trees within the same species can have notably diverse nutrient needs and will respond in their own way to nutrient intensity in the soil.

Although one may think by increasing the intensity of fertilizer given to their bonsai will produce greater and more rapid growth rate, in reality it can have a complete negative effect and cause great distress to your bonsai. There comes a point when too much is just that, too much and the fertilizer begins to use the initial effect it was meant for and begins to cause more harm than good. Overdosing on fertilizer with your bonsai can result in a toxicity effect; make it more susceptible to disease, abnormal unbalanced growth, and nutrient imbalances.

Knowing and studying the specific species of bonsai you are working with is the first step in optimizing your fertilizer routine and save you from undue harm to your bonsai. Plant growths differ as well as the season s the plant displays the most growth and need for extra nutrients. Feeding fertilizer in doormat times or times of slow inherited growth is not only senseless but can be disastrous.

Depending on the maturity of your bonsai will also determine the amount of fertilizer it will require. Young bonsai will require more fertilizers than their slower growing mature counterparts. You cannot make a doormat tree begin growing by adding fertilizer. Absorption rates of nutrients by plant roots also vary dependent on several factors: salt levels in soil and high levels of other nutrients. Fertilizers specifically made for all sorts of varieties of bonsai are the best bet of any bonsai artist.