top of page

July tasks

Winter is here with lots of wind and rain. We have been experiencing strong winds, so protect your trees. Strong winds can dry out your bonsai very quickly and you risk loosing them, so keep an eye on the soil.

Make sure pots drain well. Make sure the drainage holes are free of any blockages. If you find a pot does not drain well, tilt the pot to one side so that access water can run off. Drainage problems occur when the water does not drain from your pot and stay in the pot for days/weeks, causing roots to rot.


It is time to start with your winter pruning as well as designing of your trees. Beware branches can break easily without warning, and result in loosing all off last season’s growth.

Winter pruning generally refers to the pruning of deciduous trees during their dormancy period starting at the end of autumn and lasting until the beginning of spring. It’s an opportunity to get a good look at deciduous trees when they are clear of obscuring foliage. Its a great time to set your deciduous trees up for the year ahead.

Winter Pruning Deciduous Bonsai Trees – What Do We Do?

· Remove crossing branches.

· Remove branches growing directly up or down.

· Remove large buds from the tips of branches.

· Thin out the number of branches from busy areas of the tree.

· Allow light into the centre and lower parts of the tree by thinning out the often-denser top of the tree

· Removal of overly thick branches if they are too near the top of the tree.

You can start pruning Swamps and White stinkwoods, and then move to Maples and crab apples from the middle of July. If you have got a large collection and need a longer pruning season you can start earlier. Towards the end of July, you can start with Elms, cotoneasters, firethorns, and privets.

Why Do We Winter Prune Bonsai Trees?

When we’re explaining why we winter prune our bonsai trees we often say that the tree is in a race with itself. One branch with its buds is in competition with the others. They race each other, searching for light. Buds and branches near the outside of the tree get the most light. The tree invests more energy into these areas, leaving the lower and inner parts of the tree with less energy. over time these areas of the tree become weak of die. The tree is happy with this, as it expects to be in competition with other trees and its environment, so growth upwards and outwards is its priority. For bonsai growers however, it can be a problem. Bonsai growers tend to prefer smaller leaves, finer branches and uniform growth. Winter pruning helps us to even up the competition.

Notes And Tips On Winter Pruning of Bonsai Trees

Pruning back to where you see living buds and not back any harder than this. Buds which will grow will have already formed by winter. Having said this, many deciduous trees will back-bud well even to the point where no buds are visible. Experimentation and experience gained over time will be a great teacher.


No need to fertilize your trees this time of the year. Most trees are dormant due to the low temperatures. (Depending on the growing method you use for your pines you can feed your pines. Just make sure if you need to feed them or not.) Slow release fertilizer like Bonsai Boost or liquid fertilizers like AgriBoost or Nitrosol works well.


If you are looking for a new pot for your tree, take the tree with to a nursery and ask them to assist you with choosing a pot. There you will have the opportunity to see what the tree will look like with different pots, and you will be sure that the pot is the right size.

Wait with repotting till next month.

Pests and diseases

Spray your olives with a preventative spray for root rot.

Deciduous trees that already lost their leaves can be sprayed with diluted lime sulphur. Mix the lime sulphur with water in a ratio of 1 part lime sulphur to 30 parts water. This mixture ratio won’t stain unglazed bonsai pots much. You can use much stronger mixtures, but it will stain unglazed pots. Spraying deciduous trees with lime sulphur while they are dormant will kill off unwanted pests and their eggs as well as other diseases. Lime sulphur will also help with the control of fungal diseases like anthracnose. Cover unglazed pots when you spray the trees with something like glad wrap to prevent the lime sulphur from staining these pots. Repeat the spray after 10 days. Lime sulphur can burn/damage new growth.

Lime sulphur loses its effectiveness after a while. It’s best to buy each year new stock.

Remove your trees from the shelves and clean them of old leaves and dirt and you can also disinfect them with a strong Jeyes fluid mix. Place it in a spray can and spray the benches with it. Only replace your trees on the bench after the smell has faded.

Styling and design

Spend some time working on the design of your tree, planning ahead on your design, not only for the next year but for the next 5 years, taking in consideration the tree’s growing characteristics, making use of its strong and weak points. Often bonsai growers make the mistake of gathering to many trees to soon, getting to a stage where they do not have enough time to work on all their trees, eventually neglecting them all instead of working on a few good potential bonsai materials. Bonsai growers will often spend years working on bonsai material that’s not suitable material, or not good stock. Start with good bonsai material. Rather spend money on one or two good trees than spending the same amount on lots of trees that will take forever to develop into bonsai, if ever. Starting with good bonsai material can produce a good quality bonsai within three to five years. And do not forget the wiring.


This is a great time to catch up on projects such as wiring. It is easier to see trunk taper and movement on deciduous trees without leaves, and it’s the only season that many of us have time for the multi-day tasks involved in wiring juniper and pines. Proper wiring together with the right pruning methods is essential for the development of a good bonsai. With this statement I am probably stepping on a lot of toes of bonsai growers making use of the clip and grow method. There is a place for the clip and grow method in any bonsai collection, especially where you’ve got a lot of trees and can’t keep track of the wire on all your trees, or where you don’t have the time to wire them. But it is my opinion that you will get better and faster development of your bonsai with proper wiring.

Don’t feel disappointed when your first wire job looks a bit shabby compared to that of Ryan Neil or the Japanese masters. We don’t wire for show purposes, we wire to develop the tree. And with time you will find that you get the feeling of wiring and things will go faster and look better. Surf the internet. There are lots of articles on how to wire. But the most important part is to practice. It is worth it to spend money on some wire and a good bonsai wire cutter. Also invest in small pliers that you can use to help you bend the wire and branches. Pliers are a very efficient tool to use when bending branches. (It’s difficult to describe how bending with plier’s work, rather ask an experienced member to show you how it works.)

A good selection of aluminum wire for beginners and small collections will be 1.5 mm, 2 mm, 2.5 mm and 3 mm.

Keep the rolls of wire tidy (use a cable tie to keep the coils together). It can be rather frustrating if you drop a roll of wire causing what the fishermen call a crow’s nest.

Do not use steel or soft iron wire. It is very stiff and hard and tends to damage the bark. Over time it will start to rust, staining the bark of your tree. It can also be “poisonous” to some plant species.

Word from the Treasurer

Remember Fees are due and please complete your membership application here

General maintenance

Conifers with copious foliage should also have a plucking or trimming to remove excess twigs & foliage along the inside of branches towards the trunk, leaving the remaining foliage toward the ends of the branches. The mass & depth of the remaining foliage is then reduced.

The LINE OF THE DESIGN thus revealed is the perfect time, both artistically & horticulturally to adjust & improve the DESIGN OF THE LINE.

Many enthusiasts forget the fundamentally important lineal structure concentrating more on the surface beauty of foliage, which often disguises unsightly skeletal structure.

The taper of LINE is as important with bonsai, as is the complementary air space between. Air space should supplement the beauty of LINE, as LINE should complement the profile of its space.

Even though some of your trees may be dormant they still need water to survive. Also see those trees standing in protected areas, like patio’s etc., get enough water. Often placing trees near or next to your house to protect them from the wind can result in them not getting any rain and they will dry out.

Remove moss from trees with soft bark, like cork bark elms, acacia etc. Leaving the moss on the trunks will cause the bark to rot. Also remove moss from the soil. Moss retains a lot of moisture in the soil which can cause root rot on trees like olives. Keep moss in shallow trays for use later in the season.

Moss can be killed by spraying it with vinegar and then carefully removing it with tweezers.

Protect your Ficus trees from frost. During these cold winter months make use of the internet to gather information on your trees, study how other bonsai growers made use of the same type of tree, studying different growers’ styles and methods, deciding on which method and style suit you and developing your trees accordingly. Please note. Only follow one method at a time. Several bonsai professionals/enthusiasts make use of different methods to reach the same goal. Do not mix the different methods. You will probably kill your tree. Learn from all the different methods, watch the video’s, discuss them with other growers and then look at the grower’s trees before you decide which method to use.

Some trees like Azaleas will be flowering. Remember to remove spent flowers.

Next Club meeting, 30th July, we are working Maples, what when and how!

The Coffee Kabin is now also selling waffles and Prego rolls, which you can get during the meeting.

Look forward to seeing you all.

Upcoming Events

29 th July – BRAT Open Day – Nelspruit Bonsai Kai

5 th & 6 th August – Oyama Winter Bash – Penjing

4 th & 5 th November – South African Bonsai Association Convention - Durban Bonsai Society

Useful Links

 Bonsai Regional Association Transvaal – fun photo competitions on Facebook Page


42 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Bình luận

Đã xếp hạng 0/5 sao.
Chưa có xếp hạng

Thêm điểm xếp hạng
bottom of page