Winter is here even though you cannot tell by the temperatures. Only the lack of sunlight and evenings in the mid 40s are the visible signs. Work will soon change to repotting trees and do I have some big changes coming in late winter. Some of my show trees will get new bigger pots to improve their growth. I have been buying up pots all year for the repotting season. New original artisan pots will be the home of trees like the Daimyo Oak, a new very old grape, and some smaller trees that need more room to develop. Repotting season is always a dirty but fun and rewarding time of year.
One of our big challenges this year was getting bonsai soil. Since most of the components come from Japan, there have been extensive delays due to US shipping backlog and a major rise in costs. I cannot do much mixing of soil components so I usually purchase pre-mix and then some akadama to add to those mixes as needed. I could not source the components locally this year until the Santa Nella convention so many bag of soil costing nearly $50 each were mailed to me from sites around the US. At the convention, I could get soil made up by Lotus Bonsai, which I must say is very good, and bring those home in large 5 gal buckets.
I know local bonsai enthusiasts who are still seeking soil for the repotting tasks and are waiting for shipping containers sitting in the ports to make their way to vendors. This is an extraordinary year and it will take creativity and some more dollars than normal to solve that problem.
Since temperatures are staying so warm, many trees are starting to bud again already. Trees are flowering. This means that when, and if, cold weather does come, we will have to take special precautions to protect trees. We still have tropical trees out on regular benches and not giving any special care! One big change is the watering schedule. Trees are not drying out sufficiently. This can lead to root root. The watering schedule is now every 3 or 4 days. I will spot check pots on warmer days and may hand water those. Remembering that a trees need to flush the exhausted by-products from the root system, they still need an exchange of water and oxygen. That means that I may need to water damp trees anyway just to flush the carbon dioxide and salt build up.
I keep checking the weather almost every day now and ready to make changes as needed. We must also remember that if we do get rain, it may not be enough to thoroughly water the trees. Constant monitoring is needed.
Winter is a great time to check on buds for new ramification, clean up fallen debris, continue tree rotation, and be prepared for the unexpected. Happy Winter folks.