One of the best ways to ensure decandled pines produce strong summer growth is to feed heavily in spring. Although people living in cooler climates are just wrapping up repotting season, others have been feeding their pines for several months. If you haven’t started feeding yet – and you live in the northern hemisphere – now’s the time to start.
I use both wet and dry fertilizers. Today I applied cottonseed meal, both loose and in tea bags, and fish emulsion. I would have used tea bags for all of my trees but I can save time by applying dry fertilizer loose on my less developed trees.
When applying loose fertilizer to the surface of the soil, I create small mounds with a small scoop.
Applying cottonseed meal to the surface of the soil
After about a week, the fertilizer turns a darker color.
New fertilizer on the left, old fertilizer on the right
A mix of new and old fertilizer
Filling tea bags with fertilizer makes applying and removing fertilizer easy. It also makes it easy to determine how much food a tree is receiving at any given time.
Cottonseed meal in tea bags – this tree needs a few more bags
Tea bags on a healthy pine – I’ll add even more bags next week
I supplement dry fertilizer with liquid fertilizer, most often fish emulsion. I aim for applying it once per week during the growing season.
Applying fish emulsion
Feeding pines heavily in spring helps them recover from the stress of decandling. If trees are weak or underfed at decandling time, I skip decandling for the year to avoid weakening the tree.
For those interested in learning about decandling first hand, I’m holding a class on the topic June 11th at the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. Bring your own trees or work on trees provided for your practice. See the course description for details.
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday