How to Care for a Bonsai Tree in Autumn

Early Autumn

Temperatures and sunlight are both slowly on the decline, however it is still necessary to keep an eye on the plants’ watering needs, as we can still get some very hot days in Autumn. Keep layered cuttings well watered so that they will be ready to be separated from their parent plant before the following spring.

To facilitate rooting, coat the base of each cutting with hormone rooting powder.Autumn is a particularly good time to take cuttings from conifer trees and to transplant them. Yellowing needles should be removed from adult conifers at this time.

Autumn is the time to start using fertilizers again to boost the plants’ diet ready for winter.

Pinching is no longer necessary, as the shoots have stopped growing.

Treatment against insects and fungi should be continued, as the warm, stormy late summer days particularly encourage greenfly and fungal diseases, such as blight and powdery mildew.

It also pays to protect fruits against attack by birds and wasps.

Mid Autumn

Mid-autumn is marked by a gradual slowing down and eventual cessation of growth, the maturing of fruits and the falling of the leaves.

This is the time when deciduous trees look their best, maple trees taking on magnificent flame red leaf tints.

Deciduous trees are starting to take on their magnificent autumn tints. Sweep away any leaves that fall on the root ball.This gradual ceasing of activity makes it possible to collect and repot plants, particularly deciduous trees, conifers being best transplanted in spring.

Fertilizers can be applied throughout the mid-autumn period.

Also continue tidying up conifers by removing the old needles. About half way through this period, the first night frosts can be expected, so it is time to start protecting the most lender plants. Do this either by bringing them into a cool, well ventilated room or by covering them at night.

Watering will depend on the weather, as the warm autumn sun can still dry out the root ball. Avoid spraying the foliage, as this is no longer useful and could even be harmful, as it tends to encourage fungal diseases.

Fruit trees (particularly apple trees) are at the peak of fruiting, enhancing the autumn foliage tints. Towards the end of this period, the ripe fruits will start to fall. They should not be left on top of the root ball, as they could give rise to fungal diseases as they decompose. For the same reason, dead leaves that fall from the trees should be swept away. Though it is too late to graft deciduous trees, it is still possible to graft conifers throughout the dormant period. Gradually reduce watering of the cuttings kept in a greenhouse or a cold frame and pot up those which are well rooted.

Start stratifying any tree seeds with hard shells. Spread them in pots of damp sand in a cold place, at the foot of a wall for instance. Wherever you place them. Make sure there is no risk of frost.

Late Autumn

Some impressive equipment used for wiring trees. From left to right: wire cutters, brunch cutters and scissors. Keep them sharpWinter is approaching and the leaves are dropping quickly now, except for the beeches, which retain their leaves for most of the winter, dropping their dead leaves only when the young shoots start to sprout.

Remember to protect or bring in any tender bonsai, as the first serious frosts can be anticipated during the later part of this period. Bringing them in docs not mean putting these plants in a heated frame or greenhouse, which would only disrupt their cycle of growth. They should be stood in a cool, well-lit. Well-ventilated place, where the temperature never rises above 6-8°C (43-46°F).

When the leaves drop, carefully examine the bark on the branches and trunk for any signs of greenfly or larvae. If you find any of these pests, scrape the bark and check as well any bends in the tree and places where it was pruned the previous year. Any bark which is in poor condition should be removed with a jin scalpel and the scar covered in mastic.

Pruning for shape can start in late autumn, particularly on deciduous trees. Though it should be limited to correcting the smaller growth, leaving any major work on the branches until the end of winter. Winter is the period just before the tree starts to grow again.

Stop giving fertilizer at the end of the late autumn period.

Reduce the amount of water you give. As the plant no longer needs much. By soaking the soil, you will only encourage fungal diseases, especially on the roots.

From now on conifers can be wired. Which is an essential part of bonsai training. Do not wrap the wire too tightly otherwise the bark may be marked when growth starts again.

Protect young layers against frost by mulching or mounding and protect any cuttings left in a cold-frame.

25. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Bonsai, Bonsai Care | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on How to Care for a Bonsai Tree in Autumn

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