In the heat of summer...What can I do with my trees right now?

It’s reached a consistent 95 degrees here in Mississippi, and it’s my impression as a beginner that we can’t do much with our trees during this time other than focus on watering. But I’ve got to get my hands dirty…I’ve got the itch to be working with my plants. What CAN I do right now?
-Deadwood carving? Jin?
-Cut back new growth?
-Start new air layers?
-Other things?


Writing from Baton Rouge, LA here. We’re in the same boat. :slight_smile:

You’ve got it right: about all you can do is water.

A couple exceptions:

  • If you’ve got a tree in which you’re trying to build refinement, AND it’s already pushed and hardened its first flush of growth, AND you haven’t done other major work on it this year/it’s otherwise healthy, you can prune back new growth – but you shouldn’t if you’re trying to build thickness, length, etc.

  • Emergency repots: we had a week of hard rain, and it knocked over a calamondin I’ve been noodling around with. The calamondin was still in field soil, and the fall plus the rain completely destroyed the soil – so I had to repot. If you have to, you have to, but make sure to protect the tree really, really well from the sun for a couple weeks afterward.

  • You can buy nursery stock and, if it looks healthy/hardened off/etc., you can usually get away with one major insult. For the last couple months, I’ve been buying a piece of nursery stock every couple weeks and giving them serious chops. Every single one has rebounded beautifully.

  • You can work on kusamono. :slight_smile:

(FYI: I defer to @BillsBayou as the expert!)

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Wire? Yes, but with slowed growth, it is going to be a while before the wiring makes a difference in the structure of the tree. Wiring will let air and light into the tree and this can encourage back-budding on many species.

Deadwood carving? Any time.

Jin CREATION? Hmmmm… Many trees are going dormant in the heat. Creating deadwood may confuse the tree into thinking that it is time to recover from injury and trigger new growth. The new growth may have issues with the heat. All this depends on the species.

Cut back new growth? If it’s causing serious harm to the style, go ahead. If you just want the tree to look less shaggy, do a limited pruning. Don’t push too hard.

Start air layers? No.

Other things? Buy tropicals! I’m doing anything I want here in NOLA. Repotting, pruning, propagation, styling, wire…

Just don’t buy too many tropicals. Jackson gets cold in the winter and you’ll need somewhere to house the trees. You still have plenty of time to get some started.

Come to New Orleans on August 11, 2018. The Greater New Orleans Bonsai Society will be having their annual auction. Viewing of trees is from 4pm to 6pm. The auction usually finishes up by 9pm. We usually have a ton of material. We usually have visitors from Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Florida. Stay the night in the French Quarter. Stop in and have a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s. Then have coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde in the morning. Have lunch at Port of Call. Take a morning stroll along the Mississippi River. Better yet, come on Friday. It’s just a 3 hour drive from Jackson. Look at the art galleries and antique stores along Royal Street. Ride a streetcar Uptown through the Garden District. Head over to Dat Dog on Freret Street. Have a cool treat at Creole Creamery. Then it’s off to Kenner near the airport where we have the auction (you’ll pass within 1/4 mile of the meeting hall as you come into town via I-55/I-10).

If you get a chance, watch “Mr. Right” with Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, and Tim Roth. The movie takes place in New Orleans. I think it is one of the best movies that show New Orleans as a place to fall in love (and carry out some contract-killing in a chick-flick; it’s a funny movie). One of the places featured in the movie is Dat Dog (the address is painted on the wall). If you go there, be sure to get the “Chef’s Choice”. I let them use any any dog/sausage, any toppings, and I’ve never been disappointed.

The last time I went to Dat Dog (I walk there from the university for lunch) I ordered an ale on tap and told the chef what I was drinking. Ales can have a bitter bite. The chef sent out a chicken tender topped with a sweet onion relish. Beneath the chicken tender was blackberry jam. If I had had that sandwich with a soda, I’d have been overpowered with sweetness. However, with the ale, it was a perfect pairing. The first time I ever ordered a Chef’s Choice, I got an alligator sausage with crawfish etouffee on top. Dear God in Heaven, I’m getting hungry. I’ve already packed my lunch for today. Maybe tomorrow.

Oh, yeah. Tropicals. We typically have tropicals at the auction. Maybe tonight I’ll see if I can get some melon seed ficus cuttings to root. If I do, I’ll put some in the auction. I’ll be donating haydite-based soils and lava-rock aggregates to the auction. Maybe some slabs. Maybe a gift-certificate to Dat Dog or Cafe du Monde.