Species Specific > Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Discussion

Day with Dave Kreutz

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My friends and I had great day working on Satsuki with Dave Kreutz. Dave is running a two day workshop on fall Satsuki work. If you do not know Dave he has a wonderful Satsuki nursery in the St. Louis area called Satsuki Bonsai-en. He is extremely knowledgeable and very helpful on these trees and specializes in ones imported from Japan and rare varieties he continues to propagate. He has been great with me and my son and has taught us a lot about the proper care and grooming of these spectacular trees. I highly recommend his workshops. He has great material at fair and reasonable prices and if you are ever in the area you need try and visit his nursery. His workshop continues tomorrow and I'll try to post some pictures later. Weather in St. Louis this week has been great. Today sunny and 75 degrees. The rain that never ceased to go away in October has finally stopped.


John Kirby:
Yep, Dave is a quality guy, and a hoot to vend with at Bonsai Conventions.



Where are the pictures?   :)

Dave Murphy:
Jrob, I am hoping you might expand on what was covered during the workshop.  I have always been under the impression that Satsukis weren't ever "worked" over the fall/winter.  I'm wondering now if there might be some things I should be doing to my azaleas over the next few months.  They are all imported trees in various stages of development.  Thanks,



Sure. I worked on 4 trees over the weekend -  3 are imports. The first two I worked on are Shohin. The first variety was  Wakaebisu. It is a domestic tree which I purchased from Phillip Drilling at Cabrea Farms Nursery in Sugarland , TX propagated from imported stock.. It has pale salmon/pink flowers. Wakaebisu means young goddess. Wakaebisu is one of the kurume hybrid azaleas of Japan that owe their parentage to several species of mountain azaleas, predominately  R. sataense & R. kiusianum. This Shohin right now is 7" and will be brought back to 6" in the spring. The three other trees are all imported stock purchase from Dave.

The other Shohin is a 6" tree that I purchase in workshop at the 2009 Shohin Convention that was held this past spring with in St. Louis. The trees where imported from Japan and  is called Hakurin. It has white & white/purple stripped flowers. I also worked on 22" literati. The variety is called Kakuo which has a pink/purple flower. What interested me in this one is the size of its leaves - about 1/4 inch. They form tight pads the give the impression of clouds. Finally I worked on the 25" tree formal upright. The variety is called Karen (my wife's name so the choice is obvious). It will take about 3 years to get this tree show worthy. I am hoping to have it ready for our clubs spring show in May 2012 when it should be in bloom. The show will coincide with my 35 wedding anniversary.

I would recommend that the bible on azalea's and their culture is Fred Galle's "Azaleas". Mr Galle was the Director of Horticulture at Callaway Gardens from June 1953 until December 1979 and served as Curator until his retirement in 1983. Although not from a bonsai perspective it has 500 pages of great and useful information.

During the workshop trees were stripped of old leaves to reduce the canopy and bring light into the trees interior. Any leaf cluster without a flower bud were removed to prevent strength going to just those foliage points. If a leave cluster had multiple buds all the smaller flower buds were removed to force all spring strength to the one remaining predominate bud. Flower fans at the ends of the branches were thinned to create spacing so that the individual flowers had adequate room to fully open and display their full potential and not be crowded and bunched out by others. Finally the fine outer branches were wired to create movement and place them where need to be. If you wire these branches in the spring during full push you run the risk of wire cutting into them if you do not watch them ever so closely. This way when the growth has slowed as dormancy approaches and through the winter these fine branches can set their shape and the wire removed before the vigorous  growing. Here are some pics of the Kakuo, Karen and Hakurin before wiring.



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