When can I start fertilizing?

I’m hoping to get three doses in this fall. If I start in September I worry that it’ll be too cold in the month of November to do the third dose. I live in Charleston, SC. I was thinking that maybe I’ll start in August even though temps are still pretty high. There’s really no such thing as fall around here. :confused:

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Hi @Bonsai_Bentley
Many trees go through a period of summer dormancy, where they focus more on keeping cool in the heat than growing. Fertiliser will not help as this time. If you watch for active growth before you fertilise you should have more success than relying upon the calendar.
A lot depends on what you are growing, what you are trying to achieve, and your local climate.

A couple of Japanese maples, an umbrella plant, narrow leaf ficus, sarrissa, couple of junipers, a golden honoki and a partridge in a pear tree. :joy:

I forgot about the summer dormancy thing. :frowning: All but one of the maples are putting on new growth rn, but it’s early. Guess I’ll wait. :frowning_face:

Of just apply a light dose?
I think it’s about being sensitive to the tree’s needs.

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You could definitely apply fertilizer to the ficus, umbrella, and serissa. Those species prefer the heat of summer and put in a lot of growth during this time of year and will benefit from the fertilizer. If the maple is leafing out right now you might apply a light dose of low N fertilizer, as it will likely slow its foliar growth soon. Good luck with your bonsai.

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True, my ficus has been leafing out like crazy and took well to the pinching I did last month. All kinds of ramification on the tips. Hopefully it lignifies. :crossed_fingers:t5: It’s going into a bonsai pot next year. :slight_smile:

My trees definitely suffer if I start getting too soon or too much. I tend to play it safe and wait until the growth is steady, and at least the night temps drop. I’ve noticed that if the night temps give some relief, they tolerate the day’s heat much better.

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Yeah, true. I’ll just have to be patient and just build up my collection to where I always have something to do on some tree. :man_shrugging:t5:

I do it because I’m not good enough to know how to push a tree, so I aim on the side of caution.

Your nerifolia will grow well in the heat with fertilizer if watered appropriately. They are tropical and thrive in high heat and high humidity. I find it best to let the branches grow and grow and grow, then cut back to the most proximal lateral shoots. Otherwise, when you cut back they will bud back heavily in whorls at the cut site and cause abnormal swelling at those nodes. Yours appears to be off to a good start as it has lots of foilage. Good luck with your bonsai.

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Only thing I would do when you repot is address the circling root.

Yeah, that root is starting to bother me as well. :expressionless:

@ ndavila80 I checked my ficus this morning and I’m definitely getting whorls galore at the cut sites. :sob: How do you get ramification on these? Do you just grow it and hope it’ll ramify on its own?

If you have whorls, select down to two and let it for 2-3 months. Its going to look really shaggy, but this is what you want. As the shoots elongate some of buds at the base of the leaves will begin to elongate as well. When you have at least two secondary shoots elongating off the primary branch, cut back as far as you can leaving the two remaining lateral shoots. Repeat this process. It will fill out with foilage and new branches fairly quickly. Nerifolia have pretty short internodes so I would not worry about the length of the branches. They are also very flexible as well, so I tend to pull them into position rather than wire or massage them into by bending to desired location everyday. I do wire on occasion, but the branches seem to thicken almost overnight and before you know it the wire bite is severe and it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to remove it without damaging the branches. So clip and grow is great for these plants.

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