Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => General Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: RJNick on October 01, 2013, 09:49 PM

Title: Fall fertilization.
Post by: RJNick on October 01, 2013, 09:49 PM

I'm very new to all of this and wanted some opinions on my fertilizer plans. I am in Zine 5b and just moved my tropicals inside. I have a number of ficus benjamina and serissa pre-bonsai in deep pots to thicken trunks. I also have a bougainvillea and a few Jade plants. I was planning on fertilizing them now with Peter's 20-20-20 dissolved in water and except for the jade plants, to repeat that in another two weeks. After that I was going to switch to once a month for the duration of the winter. All of my indoor plants get a tea bag or two of plant tone which stays on the surface as well and gets replaced every month.

As for my outdoor Juniper and JBP, I was planning the same feed with 20-20-20 until the end of October and then stopping all feeding until spring.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: augustine on October 02, 2013, 09:35 AM
Opinions vary on this topic.

I have been told by three professionals to fertilize pines with a low Nitrogen, high P fertilizer, something like 10-51-10.

Other experts say that a regular balanced fert, like your 20-20-20, is sufficient and does not make any difference.

Personally I use the 10-51-10 starting around Sept 1 for my conifers and fruiting/flowering trees and will probably give all the trees a dose or two. The guys that made the recommendation have the goods in addition to opinions. It has worked well for me and my pines backbud heavily.  Personally I will continue to fertilize 'til third week in October unless the soil temps drop below 50 (which is not expected).

IMO I think 20-20-20 will be fine, 10-51-10 will also be fine. The 10-51-10 fertilizer is inexpensive so I said what the heck. I follow the directions on the label when mixing/using fertilizer.

Fertilizing is another controversial subject. Find what works for you.

Best regards
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Neli on October 02, 2013, 12:33 PM
As far as I know, pines are fertilized ones the needles harden, if you are in the stage of needle reduction, ones a month with organic (cake) fertilizer in Japan. While growing them high nitrogen does not matter, but promotes more growth.
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: RJNick on October 02, 2013, 09:00 PM
Thanks so much for the input.  I was worried that I might be over fertilizing but osund like I'm in a safe place and will adjust according to what I see.  Boy……after reading and looking at some other fora, there seem to be as many fertilizer strategies as there are bonsai enthusiasts!
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: bwaynef on October 02, 2013, 09:41 PM
Brent @ Evergreen Gardenworks had this to say: (
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Neli on October 03, 2013, 04:00 AM
I adore B rents articles. It is like my bible.
Here is what he says in another article:
Nitrogen plays little role in releasing buds, but it plays a strong role in the expansion of new shoot growth. The common knowledge of the importance of feeding with 0-10-10 is amyth, although it does little harm.
Fertilizing and watering are two subjects that need to be understood in order to be practiced properly.
I asked about fertilization in many nurseries in japan. Only one nursery, (shohin) used inorganic fertilizer ones a year. The rest use cakes made out of Rape seed (That is what they call it but I am sure it is mustard seed) and bone meal with few other additives. In most cases very simple. Ones the cake deteriorates it is changed. Dormant season is not applied, and newly transplanted plants or sick plants are not fertilized.
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Anthony on October 03, 2013, 05:37 AM

did you by any chance ask about fertiliser use, when trees are being ground grown ?

The oil seed cakes as compost have something like this 5.2.1 and I gather are used for trees in bonsai pots, neededing refinement as opposed to thickening?

Using compost as a soil component, it was noted this year that even now [ month's down the road ] the trees continue to grow evenly and slowly. The transplanting was done after January 2nd, finished by February's end. In the past a small quantity of an osmocote type was applied, it is from Israel and designed for use at 30 deg.c.
Guess it was never needed, by the trees needing yearly repotting.
Nice to see you here, you are sort of omnipresent - teasing - chuckle.
Good Day.
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Neli on October 03, 2013, 05:55 AM
Hi Anthony,
Just found this forum by accident. You know I am not much of a poster, but good to keep checking for some valuable info everywhere. I am still educating myself.
I did not ask about growing bonsai in the ground, since at nurseries in Japan they mostly buy their rough material. At Taisho en, the only thing they did grow from cuttings was dwarf single flower gardenia. Single, because it has very pretty seed pods, as opposed o the double one.
Gardenia is supposed to be semitropical, but they have acclimatized it outside, keep it outside covered with snow, without adverse effect.
In many cases when they buy their junipers they dont have more than 2-3 branches, so they need to grow them, not for trunk but for branches. So they also need rapid growth for that.
Also before doing some major work on pines and when they need lots of back budding, they fertilize extra some time before that to prepare the tree.
Speaking from personal experience, of over 25 years in the nursery business, in the ground I use manure as fertilizer and mulch and chemical fertilizer acid type since my PH soil and water is just too high.
You dont need to keep your celtis in the fridge, or try growing Celtis africana, which is almost the same as sinensis.
I dont keep mine in fridge, and our climate is almost the same. I have both.
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Anthony on October 03, 2013, 10:25 AM
Hello Neli,

thanks for the information. I was curious about the fertiliser for ground growing in Japan, would it be manure or other ?

Perhaps someone in the group will fill us in.

You need to remember that our lowest temperatures are only 18 to 19 deg.C and the Celtis came from Louisiana, they get frost and we don't [ cold enough to freeze and burst pipelines ]. Your low is around 6 deg.C . That is a big drop, especially if you look at it in F.
We can grow the Celtis c. with no refrigeration [ once again Chinese stuff adapts to our climate easily.]

Early tests showed cuttings of the Celtis from Lafayette, La, and the Celtis africana, slowly dying, fortunately, roots can be resprouted easily, so we can do tests.

Just got an e-mail from Trinidad, apparently K, got to dig out four chance seeds of the Tamarind at a gas station's concrete plant box, plus 2 weird Ficus thingees.
The Tamarinds, are from 5 cm to 2.5 cm in trunk size. Not much root, so lots of prayers. They will need about 3 years of trough growing to repair the damage they came with.
Good Day.
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Neli on October 03, 2013, 01:09 PM
I will have to see that tamarind grow with very little roots. They are difficult. I have too ways to root reduce them:
One is cut the packet they are in a bit from the side horizontally, and a month later cut from another side...few times I do that., to plant it in a smaller container.
Second is I wash the roots on top, and cut one root and bury. Repeat till all roots are almost done. Big roots I ring bark and later cut. Helps with the nebari and root reduction.
I think topic is going astray. Need to ask K how his tamarind is doing.
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: augustine on October 04, 2013, 09:01 AM
This is the method I use for fertilizing pines which I learned this from three bonsai professionals. There are probably other good methods. However all of these guys have trained in Japan with the professionals. the following methods are used for refined bonsai and sometimes not used for pines in development.

Japanese Black Pines are pines which will produce two flushes of growth per season. Fertilized strongly all season until they are decandled. (Decandling time in my area is from June 15 to approx July 7. this varies by region and perhaps various practitioners.) After decandling black pines are not fertilized until needles harden. One can tell when the needles harden but could be from 6 to 8 weeks depending. At that time we fertilize with low nitrogen feed. Neli is correct and some people say it's not necessary however this method works very well for me.

Japanese White Pines are mountain pines which will only produce one flush of needles per season. Fertilizer is withheld and watering limited until the new foliage hardens, maybe around Aug 1. this method is used to keep needles short and important for refined bonsai trees. I also grow Pinus strobiformis and treat it like JWP.

Again there may be other good approaches. Whatever works is good.

Good luck
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Owen Reich on October 04, 2013, 10:49 AM
Best to have photos of a BP in question and goals for the material clear.  You can talk about this kind of stuff in circles without something to work from.  I've seen ground growing operations of black pine in Japan and seen multiple methods of fertilization.  The at one, the beds had organic and inorganic tilled in and inorganic applied (a lot of old fertilizer cakes from the container growing area nearby).  Haven't been to Shikoku Island yet to see the miles of pines there yet but hope to in the coming years. 

The beds are raised for easy, sometimes annual, root pruning and relocation in the beds and a flooded channel method of irrigation.  This was in Osaka Prefecture and not a massive pine grow op.
Title: Re: Fall fertilization.
Post by: Anthony on October 04, 2013, 11:07 AM
Thanks Owen,

just what the doctor ordered.
Good Day