Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

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Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  NickJ on Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:42 pm

Hi!

I've visited this site many times over the last few years and got lots of useful info so I finally decided to join, this is my first post, go me!  Smile.  Also, apologies if this has been asked before, I did have a look but couldn't find anything specific about this.

After dabbling with cheap garden centre bonsai for a few years, reading many websites and books about bonsai and finding my feet I fancied something a bit more exotic but don't have hundreds of pounds to spend on trees as a beginner, so a few trips to some local nurseries yielded a few young trees/shrubs with the intention of trying to turn them into bonsai (and hopefully not kill!) or at least practice with over the coming years.

So anyway, I may have jumped right in at the deep end but I picked up a 5-6ish year old Japanese White Pine "Negishi",  a Japanese Maple "Little Princess" (Mapi-No-Machi-Hime?), a Cotoneaster Horizontalis, and a Chinese Juniper "Blue Alps" seedling.  I replaced the soil in all of them over the last few weeks with some Kaizenbonsai basic soil mix and kept them in the flower pots they came in, except the pine which has gone into an 8" terracotta pot and kept some of the original soil for the mycorrhizae (sp?), very minimal to no root pruning on all of them.

They all seem to be doing OK but I'm a bit worried about the good old English weather now that it seems to have turned very wet again this week.  I've propped the pots up on small stones as I've seen suggested but is this enough?  For the Pine and Maple in particular as I know they don't like to be too wet.  Is it worth covering the tops of the pots with some polythene sheets if it's going to be pouring down all day like today?

Sorry if that waffled on a bit but I'd be really grateful for any replies and/or advice!  
Thanks
Nick


Last edited by nickj on Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:39 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  Neli on Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:36 pm

I also had lots of rain for the past few month...and I know my black pines will not like it. I had to cover the top of the shade cloth with clear plastic...I am hoping that will help not to have my trees overwatered. But I was thinking also to put some plastic over the pots, loose not to impede air flow.

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  RKatzin on Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:53 pm

Hi Nick, as long as you used a well draining mix you should be ok. We get alot of rain here in SW Oregon, about three months when it's not raining. I have an area that is covered where I keep newly repotted trees to recover out of the elements. Other than that brief respite, we live in the rain and so do the trees.

A word on the Dwarf Maple. These are tricky buggers and not at all like growing standard Acer palmatums. I won't embarrass myself with how little I know, but I do love them and have several for a few years. You're still waiting for that word, ok, don't cut the apical leaders or boom! That's as tall as they get and grow horizonally from then on. Don't chop that trunk!

Your Little Princess can reach up to six feet at full maturity under optimal conditions, planted in the garden and given full range of growth. Containerized you can expect much less so I would cherish any upward growth and keep alot of sacrifice branches around the bottom. They're slow movers and not to fond of manipulation, sometimes pouting for a whole season after root work. They are almost like a conifer in regards to limiting your insults to one per growing season. There, I went and showed how little I know, it's a growing experience! Best of luck with yours, Rick

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  NickJ on Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:09 pm

Neli, yes that's what I was thinking, just something loose to stop quite so much water getting into the soil. I live in a 3rd floor flat so my trees are just out on the balcony pretty much unprotected for the moment, I might see about building a small bench or something if my flatmate will let me (it's his flat lol)

about three months when it's not raining............we live in the rain and so do the trees

Thanks Rick, I take some comfort from that. It seems mid-summer is the only time it's not raining here too! My soil is a pre-mix from a leading UK bonsai supplier and seems to be fairly free draining, I'm hoping it's enough.

I think it's fair to say you know more than me! I was just drawn to the Maple as it's a lovely little tree even if it does need a lot of work before it's anything like bonsai material, mainly thickening of the pencil thin trunks. The small, bright red and green leaves are great to look at already though and they're only just really starting to open up and extend.
Some of the apical leaders unfortunatey look to have been pruned shortly before I brought it home and they have some long internode lengths but I don't really intend to do anything with it just yet, maybe just do a little wiring later in the year to bring some outer branches down from their current v shapes, then let it grow out for a good while and enjoy it as is. This one is in it for the long haul I think.
Would it benefit from some "cut and grow" on some of the side branches to help with respect to thickening, leaving the leaders and lowest branches alone do you think?

It is definitely a growing experience and one I'm looking forward to! Very Happy Thanks again.

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  RKatzin on Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:39 am

Hi Nick, I could not find any dwarf maples that had not been pruned, either by ignorance or intent so I had to get starts and these are all grafts. I chose ones with the nicest looking connections, but still there is some color change at the union. Is yours perhaps a grafted tree also? These are generally considered unacceptable for bonsai, but there are remedies that we are years away from at this point.

I was quite disconcerted when I asked a well known author to disclose what he knew of the dwarf maples. Smiling with a little shaking of the head, he said, "They're a mystery to me, you'll just have to grow them and see" That we shall, Rick

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  fiona on Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:28 am

Hi Nick. In general your trees should be fine in the Milton Keynes rain. I live in a far wetter area in the UK than you do and have seldom in fifteen years had to cover trees. Even then it was only in a couple of severe downpours and it was mostly to stop the rain causing fresh (and therefore much looser) soil to get "bounced" out of the top of the pot.

However, by implication your balcony seems to be exposed to the elements and if I were you I'd be giving some consideration also to the effects of wind rather than rain. Our soil mixes take the strain in wet conditions and if they're free enough draining as yours sounds, that should be fine. But once a tree has become dessicated through wind (or even strong drafts) then it is pretty much on the slippery slope. Your maple's young growth is at particular risk and many folk on here will tell of how their maples have suffered from wind scorch in the early part of the season.

Keep an eye on this and if necessary (and if the flatmate lets you) be prepared to put up some sort of wind break to deflect the wind currents away.

Also be aware that some balconies can be frost pockets. You don't say which way yours is facing but that too can have an impact in creating a micro-climate on it.

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  mumra on Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:53 am

Lots of sound advice.

My Acer little princess has been outside all winter and is now well into leaf. The only protection it did get was from the wind as my garden can be like a wind tunnel.

Trees are outdoor entities and thus should be there when ever possible. In the UK things like Ficus would need to be brought in when the temps start dropping but I would keep them outside during the summer. All of the trees you have should be more than happy in the fresh air and as long as you have them in a free draining medium they should be absolutely fine. If it is raining I would still advise checking them as you may be surprised that some still need watering. I have an Acer kyohime and, due to the mass of leaves creating an umbrella effect, this needs watering even after the heaviest of down pours. I do tend to give my smaller trees some protection from the rain just due to the possibility of the soil being thrown out and, when there isn't much soil in the first place, this can fatal for upper roots which get exposed to air


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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  NickJ on Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:59 pm

Thanks Fiona and mumra. My balcony is E-NE facing so gets good sun in the morning and shade from about 12-1pm onwards and frost doesn't seem to be as much of an issue as on the lower/ground , I could be wrong though and will keep an eye on that.
Wind was something else I thought about though as it can get quite strong up there at times. I've positioned the maple so that for now it at least gets a bit of wind shelter from a much larger dwarf flowering cherry shrub that's also on my list for the bonsai treatment sometime soon.

I'll probably tie a clear plastic sheet to the NE railings for some better wind protection until I know what I can do with regards to proper shelter.

Am I right in thinking the maple will probably need some winter protection too? Such as bubble wrap around the pot?

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  marc74 on Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:49 pm

As advised and as I have learnt that buying good free draining bonsai soil will mean rain is not an issue. I also use the kaizen soil. Seems best for price and quality

but the issue I may have is my new bench can only be placed south facing so likely to dry out quick. my rockery does. Kent summer is enough to kill all day in sun no doubt

deciding if I will create a canopy above the bench im about to build. so maybe receives less amount hours of light

else add a drip water system just for the very hot days

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

Post  NickJ on Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:57 pm

Well looks like my concerns about the rain were unfounded after all.  I just noticed today some of the Pine's buds starting to sprout new needles so it doesn't seem to have done it any harm so far *fingers crossed* Smile
Also, confirmed Kaizen's budget soil seems a nice mix for larger containers.  Free draining enough to not get waterlogged from a full day of heavy rain but also retentive enough to be able to hold that water for at least a day or so in mild warmth and full morning Spring sun.

Thanks again for the help peeps :)I'll probably be back for some Pine styling advice soon!

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Re: Do garden centre "pre-bonsai" JWP, JM, etc need rain protection in UK?

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