Potting in Summer

by Rudi Adam

The following notes are given rather early - but as everyone knows, Summer, in the Cape, always turns up very suddenly and it's best to be prepared.

Summer potting is possible, as long as enough caution and after care is exercised. It is also limited to a few species, such as maple, Chinese elm (which have to be defoliated completely a few days beforehand) and the ficus species.

Root pruning at this time of the year should never be as drastic as in Spring and, on no account should more than one-third of the fine hair roots be removed (otherwise water intake is too drastically cut back and the tree might suffer extensive damage).

Most important after-care is:

Once a tree is potted, place it into a shady wind-free spot, misting it at least two or three times a day for the following ten days. After this period, once or twice will do. After about three to four weeks, you can place it into morning sun - for one to two hours - increasing the time of sunlight every week until, after eight to ten weeks, it can stand full sunlight again.

One other thing: there is no better time to pot or re-pot than Spring. Use Summer potting only in cases of emergency (i.e. when a pot breaks) or when you have not had time to pot in the proper season and it is obvious that the tree cannot wait until the next Spring for potting.

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Maple leaves turning

red-gold in the Autumn sun

falling..... falling..... gone

Random Bonsai Tip

So much time is spent on striving towards perfection in the foliage area of trees but little contemplation goes into the area around the nebari. Consider planting your tree at different heights in the pot which might enhance the existing taper and roots. If your tree lacks roots use moss mounded in such a way to suggest underlying roots, or you can even use sticks of similar appearance to the wood of the tree as 'fake' roots until you are able to coerce roots to fill the void. Use appropriate gravel to complete the scene.