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One of the Great Mysteries of Bonsai
June 29, 2016

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One of the Great
Mysteries of Bonsai -

There are many variables when it comes to watering any containerized plants, especially bonsai trees. These are a few of the basic questions to ask yourself:

Species of plant – Do they by their nature like to be wet, moist or almost dry?

Type of potting mix - Is it coarse and fast draining? If so, it may need water every day. Or, is the soil heavy, drains slowly, and therefore stays wet longer?

Size of container? – Small containers dry out faster than large ones.

Location – Indoors? Outdoors? Growing in the shade? Or sun?

Time in Pot? - Containers full of roots dry out faster than newly potted ones; even when they are the same species.

Once you have answered these questions, you will have a better idea of how often to water your trees! Remember, although most do, not all bonsai like, or need to be watered every day.

Watering Bonsai Page

Humidity ? Trays

"Humidity trays" are more and more often correctly being referred to as 'drip trays.' They are often recommended for people growing bonsai indoors.

They do not contribute significantly to humidity, so don't bother putting water in them.

Bill Valavanis Does It Again!

The world bonsai community will once again be enriched by the display of bonsai gathered from across the United States.

The 5th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition
September 10 – 11, 2016, in Rochester, NY.

Just in case you haven't heard about this phenomenal event, click here to view the video of a previous exhibit:

US Nat'l Bonsai Exhibition NY 2014 video

A Beginner's Bonsai Guideline
Taper, Taper, Taper!

When both selecting and designing bonsai always keep in mind: taper, taper, taper.

Taper as you go from the base of the trunk up the tree, taper the branches and taper every time there is a bend or curve.

This is a very basic guideline, however, one we often forget. The taper most frequently ignored is when there are bends and curves.

When it comes to bends and curves – on branches and/or trunk line - there is an additional important taper guideline … whenever possible, the length between each point should also become shorter and shorter.

Taper can often tell us where to cut and sometimes (when there is no taper) what not to buy.

The Serissa Bonsai Enigma

For many years, in sub-tropical South Florida we struggled with growing Serissa. We changed soil, we opted for different varieties, we offered them sun, shade and even indoors!

It seemed a losing proposition. There was the occasional success, but even then they looked nothing like those in magazines. Why?

Serissa is not a tropical! Carl Rosner, in New Jersey, was the first person to convince me. In 2010, I received an email titled “Burying my Serissa” from Carl. Most of the bonsai growers I knew had buried Serissa because they were dead!

"Living in Zone 6/7, I made a bold move when I decided that my Serissa did not like the warmth of my 'Tree House' (greenhouse to most.)

"The Serissa seemed to like the cooler temperatures, and about eight years ago, I decided to place my Serissa forest outdoors in my flowerbed for the winter. I had read somewhere that there are places in the cooler climates that use the Serissa as a hedge. Hmmm I thought!

"We have mild winters in Southern New Jersey, but there are always cold snaps when the temperatures drop down into the single digits for a few days. Nothing-ventured etc….

"I was dumbfounded by the results after my first year of the Serissa in the ground during the winter. When I dug it up I wasn’t even sure it was still alive, but the leaves developed quickly. The forest burst into more flowers than I had seen in the years prior, and I have been burying my Serissa in the ground ever since!

Although this article was published over 6 years ago ... I still find myself trying to convince people, despite its soft leaves, thin stems and lovely little white flowers ... Serissa is not a tropical plant!

Tons More Serissa Bonsai Information

How to Wire - from an Expert

The following ad says "Buy It Now," but for now, it's actually Free! Colin Lewis is an excellent bonsai teacher, and in this video he extensively covers good wiring techniques. If you're an experienced bonsai person, its a perfect refresher.

'Bonsai Wiring Essentials'

Congratulations and
Thank You to Paul Pikel

The Conocarpus erectus, shown here on a recent cover of BCI magazine, was awarded the "All American Award" at the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition, and was chosen by 'Bonsai Focus' as one of the top trees of 2015.

Floridian, Paul Pikel recently donated this tropical buttonwood bonsai to the permanent collection of the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way, WA for worldwide visitors to enjoy.

Considering the history of tropical plants as bonsai, this is quite an honor. In the early days of my bonsai experience, I can recall being told "tropicals are not real bonsai."

Bonsai artists in the torrid zone continue to prove that statement to be wrong!

What You Need to Know
About Tropical Buttonwood
Before You Buy

After the above bonsai became nationally (and perhaps internationally) recognized, requests for "where can I get one" have become more frequent.

Although very easy to grow in tropical and sub-tropical climates, this tree may not be so willing to conform to less than the heat and humidity of their home territory.

(Given the perfect environment, they can be convinced.)

Paul was able to personally select this starter tree in 2002.

In this early picture you can see it had great potential to begin with.

Not all collected buttonwoods look like Paul's!

Although definitely a good subject - especially for carving - this yamadori to the right has a great shape, but no driftwood.

Perfect for a carving project.

Before you order a Conocarpus erectus, ask for a picture of the actual plant.

Buttonwood care Page

BonsaiMary Gets Mail

Gabriel G. - Covina, California sent an email saying "Hi Mary, thank you for your site and all the great information available. It is much appreciated."

Then he asked questions which encouraged me to write the above buttonwood information. Thanks Gabe.

With Appreciation

With an average of 20,000+ unique visitors a month to my website, I continue to "meet" many of them.

If you have a question, an answer or a story to share, please

Contact Me

Many thanks to all my subscribers who do continue to share bonsai thoughts, questions and pictures.

A special thank you to the BonsaiMary site sponsors.

Supporting these advertisers, helps keep the BonsaiMary site alive and well.

Until next month, wear a hat, use sunscreen and drink lots of water, summer is here!

If there's crazy weather where you are, please stay safe.

Most Sincerely,

Mary Miller

P.S. If you have a bonsai business, consider sharing it with my visitors.

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