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Bonsai Banter Issue # 53 My Bonsai Book
July 30, 2014

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My Bonsai Book


My soft cover 'Bonsai with Tropicals' was published in 2005. After it went to press, I realized it may not have been a very good title.

There is so much more than tropical bonsai information in it. However, I think the sub-title says it all ...

"Some Things I learned Along the Way."

When I browsed through it recently, there were more hints and tips than I remembered and I had forgotten some of the funny stories. I've included a few of them in this issue of Bonsai Banter.

First, a little story about the ironic cover.

This was a workshop in the mountains of Vermont at a fabulous dwarf conifer nursery. Look closely at the background.

The irony ... we were working on tropical Bougainvillea.

(Trudy, thanks again for the picture.)

Here's a Tip About "Pouting Trees"

Buttonwoods and some of the legumes display their discontent in chilly weather by wiliting. I call this "pouting." Before you give them water, make sure they need it. No need to move a "pouting" tree indoors, unless you expect much lower temperatures are on the way.

Surprisingly, random chilly temperatures in the lower 50s or even upper 40s are of little concern to tropical trees.

NOTE: The same trees that "pout" in winter may also "pout" in the heat of summer Again, make sure they need water before you drench them.

"Light"hearted Humor

Available light is an important consideration when growing plants. When I teach beginner classes, I ask if anyone is restricted to indoors. Then I try to remain aware of their specific light needs.

In a class at Fairchild Tropical Garden one lady told me she lived in an apartment with no balcony nor patio; but she did have a large window. I asked which way the window faced.

Her response was, "It faces out."

Canopy Shaped Bonsai Trees

When creating tops on canopied bonsai such as a banyan style Ficus, consider clouds as models instead of mushrooms, pompoms or umbrellas.

Airy 'clouds' allow more light and air circulation through the branches. Your trees will be healthier and, by most standards, look more realistic.

Creating a Totally New Top?

When the original apex or crown is too tall, cut it off, but have a plan for the new one. Many of us make the mistake of not cutting short enough.

We often cut to where we want the new top to be, instead of cutting shorter and allowing the new growth to develop in the right place.

Remember to leave finishing space.


Although I basically wrote 'Bonsai with Tropicals' for beginners, refreshers never hurt.



National Bonsai & Penjing Museum Hours

IMPORTANT: Don't be disappointed! If you are planning a visit to Washington, D.C., please note the hours!

The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is open Fridays through Mondays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The grounds are closed to the public Tuesday through Thursday. Admission is free.

And here's a new program:

CSI: Bonsai - Through October 13, 2014 (Fridays through Mondays only) 10:00 am – 4:00 pm National Bonsai & Penjing Museum - Special Exhibits Wing

Why did my bonsai die? Whether you are a master or a beginner, your success with bonsai depends on being able to answer this question. Enter our CSI lab to learn how our crime scene investigators solve specific cases of bonsai death ... Free


Two New Bonsai-Mary Pages

The Hornbeam Bonsai

Hornbeam Bonsai is one tree you don't see very often in the tropics. Otherwise, it seems to be quite popular, and appears in many different varieties throughout the world. I included pictures of some of my favorites on this new page.

Art Forms Related to Bonsai

Oriental art forms related to bonsai are varied and numerous. Japanese scrolls, accent plants, bronzes, suiseki and more. I've visted a few on this new page.

Bonsai-Mary Gets Mail

The recent Bonsai Bark newsletter 06/2014 issue included a reference to my Beneficial Insects page. Not long after, I received the following from Jake in Ohio:

Hi Mary, I enjoyed you article on beneficial insects. A beneficial I use that you may want to mention is a tiny microscopic worm/parasite that hunts down and kills over 230 pest insects found in soil and are harmless to other beneficial's. The product name is Scanmask and works wonderfully!

Its kills everything from grubs and other larvae including fungus gnat larvae, and even borers and also carpenter ants and termites! I use them mostly for June Beetle control and fungus gnat larvae but they kill ANY pests found in the soil that feed on roots and organic matter in the soil.

It can be used in the ground and in potted plants such as bonsai. Such a fantastic soil drench. One application can apply between 5 to 25 million nematodes! Just thought I would share something I use that work great.

Thanks for your article again! Regards, Jake


I don't usually promote products I haven't used, but Scanmask sounds like a winner. If you have used these beneficial nematodes, I would like to hear from you.

More Mail

After the Bonsai Banter issue including the Pyracantha Bonsai page, I received this email:

Mary - After reading about firethorns I am not surprised that so few people tackle them!

I have enjoyed your tips for years (and have a bunch of your Tropical Bonsai newsletter issues to re-read at times.)

Margareta, Bedford, NY


I smiled at Maggie's comment about Pyracantha. And, I appreciated her enjoying my bonsai writings. Then came the BIG question!

"How can I take a vacation without killing my trees?"

I responded:

The answer depends on many factors. How many trees do you have? What are the sizes? Are they all tropicals? Are they mixed temperate and tropicals? Are they all indoors? Out? Are they all in bonsai pots. Do you have automatic irrigation? If not, how do you water? And the list goes on and on.

Maggie's next email included this line: "at least a month away next winter."

Yeow! My first thought was, I could write an entire page about that. My second thought was, maybe I should! I'm still working on that new page "Bonsai Trees and Vacations."

Does anyone have any special tips or hints? Photos?

Time To Advertise!

Don't forget, if you have a bonsai related business or are a bonsai speaker, I have very reasonable advertising prices and excellent exposure. Bonsai-Mary averaged over 1,000 visits a day again this month!

Your Advertising Info

Until next time, thanks for your input and for visiting my site.

Sincerely,

Mary Miller

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