Spring Exhibits…work now, be ready then   2 comments


Many deciduous bonsai are shown in the winter with their fine tracery of twigs and sculpted branches. This does not mean that pines and junipers are not shown. For exhibits coming up for the Spring 2015 season, work must be prepared now so the tree is ready in 6 months. Some things that should be worked on now so that the tree will be ready when its time to exhibit.

  • Keep pots clean from now until show time.
  • Lime sulphur deadwood before it’s too cold.
  • Prune deciduous trees in fall so that buds set at the new tips.
  • Prepare the soil by mossing early.
  • Prune junipers for shape in fall.

Pots should be cleaned and oiled now so that they can be touched up monthly untill show time. Oil on a pot is not something that can be done the evening before the show and look correct. If kept clean and oiled for a few months the oil will loosen old calcium deposits and they will wipe off well before the exhibit. Don’t clean to a point that removing old patina off is a problem. Just keeping a pot well oiled all year will allow a good patina to form all on its own. Long periods of dry pots with no oil will cause calcium to form deep within the pots texture and keep it from being cleaned and oiled properly.

Lime sulphur deadwood thru the summer and even into fall. In summer LS can be diluted with water or straight from the bottle as long as the wood is wet before application. In Fall, the LS can be diluted 50/50 with water. Lime sulphur can also be mixed as a fungicide in winter and applied to deciduous trees. Lime sulphur diluted for fungicide can be mixed 1/3 LS 2/3 water. Be aware that using lime sulphur as a fungicide on deciduous tree, that the trunk and branches can turn white. This can be a stark contrast to green leaves, although Beech trees look very nice when the bark is white with the green leaves as popular in Japan.

Pruning deciduous tree in fall after leaf drop is very important. This fall pruning balances energy within the tree and allows the new buds to set at the tips where they can help build the canopy in spring. All that is necessary in spring is a few small prunings to keep shape and the tree is ready for the winter or spring show. Use this time in fall after leaf drop to look for heavy places within the branching and remove triplets. (places where maples tend to split into three’s rather than the more desirable two’s) Remove the center of the triplet and reduce to two or sometimes I have removed one of the outer twigs keeping the center and one of the sides if I wish a branch to move in that direction.

Moss should be applied early in fall in winter showing or waiting till winter for a spring show. Of course they will all depend on moss availability but should be done as soon as possible. There are two reasons why this is important.

1. The moss should be applied early enough so that it has some time to grow and attach to the soil.

2. Allowing enough time for the moss to naturalize. New moss with out sufficient time looks unnatural.

There is much artistry to applying moss and there are some that can do it one day and it looks very natural. Ask opinions from friends about your application of moss and ways to make it look more natural if it does not pass muster. A good simple tip is to make sure akadama or suitable fines have been dusted in to seal moss edges after application to keep moss overall moist and also keep it from drying and curling which looks especially unattractive.

Pruning junipers in fall allows the branch tips to regenerate buds at the tips of branches which can quickly be pinched (with scissors) and made to back bud increasing ramification right on the tips, making branches look especially nice. Take this time to remove all the downward growth tips from the underneath of foliage pads and cut back the tops of upward growing shoots. I used to remove all the upward growing shoots , but have since adopted cutting back to very short upward growing shoots to make branch pads look fuller. This also allows the pad to have a more rounded shape on the upper side of the pad rather than just a frying pan stuck out there.


Cut back overly long shoots so as to induce back budding.


In about 75 days, new buds will bud adjacent to stub.



Take photos of top views to make sure the canopy is balanced all the way around the tree. This allows sunlight to hit every branch and keep them healthy. This juniper is bouncing back from having its entire canopy removed from basicly rough stock. The old adult foliage is being replaced by juvenile foliage and then will go back to adult foliage after the tree calms down. About four years from now.


Here is a maple branch with two triplets. They are caused from the strong branch budding at each side of a node and developing on from there. It is up to the artist to take care of these as they form and not allow them to rebud again on top of each other.



I decided to get rid of both of them by reducing the branch back to the original triplet.


The middle of this triplet was dead anyway. I have cut back to two remaining side branches to the first node and will allow them to ramify from there.


Here is a real problem branch. The secondary on the left is also a double branch and creates the triplet.


If I just remove the larger portion at arrow I still have three branches at the intersection and a place for a bulge to develop.


For me, this is how I would solve the problem. Remove entire left branch now shown missing by arrow. Reduce remaining branchlets to first node and be more deligent about fall pruning in the future.


Here are two branches that nature has taken care of for me. The center of one triplet has died back and left just the two. The other branch has had one of the side branches die back and leave two. I prefer this method of pruning when possible since it leaves the vee’s more gracefull and I don’t have the clunky look of symetrical  60 degree vee’s.






2 responses to “Spring Exhibits…work now, be ready then

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  1. Al,
    I sure appreciate the tutorial type posts. Very helpful!!!
    As always, Thanks,
    Tona (Steve)

  2. Thank you for your work on this blog. Very informative. You do a lot that helps my education!

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