Family traditions are a big part of the holiday season. Many families have created landscapes that are planted with evergreens from Christmas past. Memories grow on with Spruce, Fir and Pines that were once a part of the holiday festivities. Properly planned, a live tree can be decorated, enjoyed and eventually planted in the space of three to four weeks surrounding Christmas day.
If you plan to buy one of these live trees, decide in time to take the proper steps to insure a successful transplant. First, select the spot where the tree will be planted and dig the hole early in December before the ground freezes. Dig a hole that is suitable in size to the root that you are planning on planting. Remember, measure twice and cut once! You might want to store your backfill in a wheelbarrow that is sheltered in the garage until you need it. This will insure that the soil in workable and not reduced to a frozen mound of un-movable earth. Next, fill in the hole with leaves and cover it with a tarp until you plan to plant.
Plan on keeping your tree indoors no more than 7-10 days. This way it will only need to put up with dry warm air for a short time. Keep the root ball moist at all times. Many use wooden barrels, plastic or galvanized tubs in order to water properly and yet protect the floor.
After Christmas, plan on acclimating your tree to the outdoors for about two-three days. This can be done in a screened porch or garage. Afterwards, carry your tree to its prepared site. Remove the tarp, scoop out the leaves and place the root ball in the hole. Add the soil from your stored wheelbarrow to fill the hole completely-firm it well with your feet. Give the tree several buckets of water at this time. Mulch the tree in well with the leaves or other compost or bark mulch.
The holiday season is fast approaching and soon it will be time to deck the halls with decorative greenery and boughs of holly. To make sure all your garland, swags, trees and kissing balls look their best make sure to use an anti-dessicant such as Wilt-Pruf® to keep your greens from drying out.
This is also a helpful tip for prolong the life of greens, holly, berries and boxwood used in outdoor window boxes or winter planters. An application of Wilt-Pruf can help extend the life of your festive display.
You can use Wilt Pruf® to protect and extend the life of Christmas trees and wreathes by reducing moisture loss. Moisture loss is the primary cause of the needle loss and browning that is so common. For wreathes, holly and other seasonal greenery many commercial producers dip the object in Wilt Pruf® and let if drip dry over a catch tray. For the homeowner, spraying is just as effective.
This is a simple process:
For a long lasting Christmas Tree begin by selecting one that has been cut recently and is still fresh.
Apply Wilt Pruf® to all foliage outdoors in daylight, Wilt Pruf® needs exposure to ultra violet light to dry properly.
Let dry before bringing indoors
1 Quart RTU will treat the typical 5′ – 6′ Christmas Tree, you can also mix the concentrate at 5:1 dilution and apply with any pressurized sprayer.
Wilf-Pruf® is also a good way to protect evergreen shrubs from Winter winds and chills. It provides a protective layer that helps to lock moisture in preventing burning and helps to keep plants from drying out.
Clean out any debris that may have fallen into the pond and sunk to the bottom. Decaying materials, such as leaves and twigs, release gases that are harmful or fatal to fish, should the surface become covered with ice. You may have to drain the pond to accomplish this task. Should you decide to drain the pond, just follow these steps:
1. Pump pond water into a container large enough to house your fish for a time.
2. Put an aeration device in holding tank and put fish into tank.
3. Pump out 75-80% of pond water, then turn off pump.
4. At this time, scoop out as much debris as possible. A fish net makes the job fairly easy.
5. Turn filter back on to clean out any fine material, rinsing pad often.
6. Fill pond with water, adding a dechlorinating agent, such as Aqua Safe, if your water does not come from a well.
7. Add salt to the water at a rate of 5lbs./1000, (use rock salt, pond salt or kosher salt).
Note: only add salt for the amount of water you are adding back to the pond.
8. Let water sit for a day for temperature to adjust, add a product such as Treats-all to help reduce
chance of disease, as the fish will be somewhat stressed, then reintroduce fish to the pond.
Ideally the pond cleaning should be done after the leaves have fallen off the trees. If you wish to clean it before leaf drop, you can place a net over the pond to catch any leaves. Cleaning the pond is a very important step to proper pond health.
Winter Care of Plants
1. Hardy Lilies and Lotus- When lilies and lotus have finished their season, and the leaves have died back, pick off the brown leaves and sink the plants in the deepest part of the pond.
2. Tropical Lilies- While not the easiest plants to winter, their beauty makes it worth the effort. When the plants appear to have gone dormant (usually mid-November), remove them from the pond. Unpot the tubers in a container of moist sand, keeping them at a temperature of 40-50 degrees. Check periodically to make sure tubers remain moist. Tubers can be started again in April in a sunny, warm tub, inside.
3. Tropical Marginals-Most of this group can be kept as houseplants in a window, as long as the pots are submerged in water.
4. Hardy Marginals-This type of plant can be left on the shelf of the pond, or submerged for extra protection. Remember to raise up in early spring.
5. Tropical Floaters-Plants in this group should be scooped out as soon as they turn brown from frost. Don’t leave them in too long or they will sink, making them more difficult to remove. If you wish to try to save these plants for next year, place them in a container of water and keep in a warm sunny spot, inside, although due to the lower cost of these plants, it is not usually worth the effort.
6. Division-Lilies and certain other aquatic plants can be divided in the fall, though most water gardeners prefer to do it in the spring.
“Bonsai is not a race, nor is it a destination. It is a never-ending journey.”
Don’t let the fact that ‘bon-sai’ is an art studied and refined for many centuries scare you off, because you are perfectly capable to learn how to grow Bonsai trees without green thumbs. Make sure to pick the right tree species for your surroundings and stick to the basic care guidelines.
Basics of Bonsai Aesthetics
Several aesthetic principles have been passed down through the ages, suggesting what’s attractive and what’s not. The most general principles focus on:
Form: The general shape or silhouette of the plant; usually an asymmetrical triangle with the leaves pointing upward.
Balance: Location of branches and foliage and location of the plant in its pot, avoiding perfectly symmetrical proportions in favor of natural proportions inspired by the golden ratio.
Proportion: Relationship of the elements to each other.
Line: How the apex (the tip) relates to the trunk.
Details: We’ve added this one ourselves in order to group several of the smaller things that make a nice bonsai. These elements include the size of the leaves, exposed roots or nebari, and how the base of the plant has been decorated.
Step 1 – Pick a Plant
Fall is the perfect time to shop the garden center and nursery for great starter plants for bonsai. While there are plenty of plants to choose from, (including many houseplant varieties), you might want to stick to evergreens such as:
Look for plants in two gallon pots or smaller as these will be the easiest to handle. You might also check out our greenhouse for:
Step 2 – Shaping and Styling Techniques
Let’s begin with the single most important technique to Bonsai; pruning. Pruning is crucial in keeping trees miniaturized as well as to shape them. The goal is to create a Bonsai that resembles nature as close as possible. The spring and summer are the seasons to proceed with significant pruning; though this will depend on the type of tree you have. Make sure to buy a good concave cutter when pruning thick branches. The hollow wounds these cutters leave behind heal much better than normal cutters would.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s not a bad idea to study from the masters. Most styling is going to occur through selective pruning and trimming as well as wiring techniques. Here are some of the more traditional forms:
Formal Upright or Chokkan: A perfectly straight, upright trunk.
Informal Upright or Moyogi: The trunk may have a curve or slight slant.
Slanting or Shakan: A more severe curve, with the apex extending outside of pot.
Windswept or Fukinagashi: Similar to slanted but all branches and leaves look like they’re being blown to one side by the wind.
Cascade or Kengai: The trunk grows upward with an abrupt turn downward, sometimes extending far below the pot.
Semi-Cascade or Han-kengai: A trunk that grows upward then cascades slightly lower than the top surface of the pot.
Step 3 – Care & Maintenance
A crucial part of information about how to grow a Bonsai tree is its maintenance and care.
How often Bonsai trees need to be watered depends on a wide range of factors, including species of tree, pot-size, soil and climate. Over-watering can result in root-rot, one of the most common causes of death. However, as Bonsai are planted in such small pots they also tend to dry up very easily. Choosing the right soil mixture and re-potting regularly (on average every two years, to make sure the trees don’t become pot-bound, making it hard to soak up and store water) is crucial to keep your tree healthy. An important rule for watering is to check frequently on your tree (instead of simply watering it once per day), and when watering to do this thoroughly (to make sure the soil absorbs the water properly).
Besides watering and repotting, fertilization is another important thing to keep in mind. Since the trees are put in small pots, with few space and nutrients available, fertilizing regularly in the tree’s growth season is key to keep it healthy. Again, it depends on the tree species when, how much and how often it needs to be fertilized. The brand or type of fertilizer (fluid or solid) doesn’t matter all that much, as long as you make sure to apply smaller quantities than normal plants would require.
Step 4 – Placement
Finally, placing an outdoor tree inside (or vice versa) is a sure way to kill it. Before buying (or cultivating) a Bonsai, think where you like to place it! Sub-tropical trees generally need much light and relatively high temperatures and can only live outside if you live in a warm enough climate; these trees will do perfectly fine indoors though. In case you prefer an outdoor tree, a safe bet is to choose a tree that is indigenous to your environment. In case winters get very cold some additional protection from frost is required, since a Bonsai is put in a small pot.