SUMMER PRUNING. (July, 2011)

Before you prune, you need to have a plan. What is the stage of training that your tree is in? If you have a finish tree you can defoliate, prune, wire and cut back new shoots. Fertilize finished tree lightly.

If you have bonsai in training, it is better to wire and put a lot of bends on the new growth and then let it grow. During the training stage, you do not need to worry about long internodes and big leave or foliages. Short internodes and small leaves will be focused on during the refinement stage. Fertilize the trees in training heavily so that the trees can grow strong. Strong trees will push new buds after pruning.

Azalea should be de-bloomed and pruned in June. If you still have some work to do on azalea, it should be done by the middle of this month. If it is pruned too late, the flower buds will not develop and the new shoots will be weak.

Juniper can be styled, restyle, wired and pruned in July. If you check The Bonsai Art of Kimura, you will see that several junipers are styled in July and August. After heavy work, it should be protected under the shade cloth. Fertilize your juniper moderately year round.

Five needle pine, ponderosa pine, mugho pine, and any high mountain pine, should not be fertilized yet. It should be fed from August to the winter (if your winters are mild).

Japanese black pine and Japanese red pine: After having been decandled, you should remove fertilizer and let it spend its own reserved energy for one month to six weeks. Then start to fertilize in the middle of August to November. For the tree in training, do not decandle. Feed it till the end of the year if the goal is to thicken the trunk.

Japanese maple: Do not defoliate finished tree after the middle of July. The new leaves may be too small and the tree may grow too weak.

Ficus and other tropical species: Finished tres can be defoliated, wired (mostly with aluminum) and pruned back. For tree in training, large leaves and long internodes is the sign of good health. It is time to wire new shoots and let them grow. Defoliating will promote small leaves but it can weaken bonsai. Defoliating too many times will cause the small branches to die. Defoliate only finished tree and strong tree only.

Spruce, hemlock and Yew: fertilize lightly. Heavy dose of fertilize will cause the foliage and needle to grow long. For refined tree, treat it like Japanese white pine. Start to fertilize in August.

Suitable trees to work on this month: Japanese black pine (decandle shohin on the first week of the month; wiring carefully), Junipers, Azalea, deciduous trees and tropical trees.