Hey everybody. It’s officially the hottest part of the summer here in Florida, but the silver lining is now it’s going to start to get cooler and cooler as we head off to Fall. Plus, the daily rains we’ve had for the last few months is also a reprieve from the heat. Not so much for the humidity. 90% nonstop humidity isn’t for everyone. Sweating standing still is an acquired taste. However, we don’t really have a winter here, which is the reason I live here in the south. Six months of perfect weather, Can’t wait.
That said, this is the time to do all the tropical tree work, and we are in full swing. I started repotting once the nights were above 55 so the roots would recover. That’s usually around April 1st here in central Florida, and I continue to repot and frankly beat up my tropicals till around Sept 15th. The reason why we stop when it’s pretty hot is because the roots typically need 6 weeks of active growth to recover, and November 1st is the beginning of when we sometimes see nights below 55F.
Till then, it’s “beat the band” till we get it done. And this year we got it done. 500 new trees in containers. With another 100 to finish up the season.
Also, I have been finally styling up some trees again. I got so hung up on the repotting, that I had missed out on the styling . I always forget how much I love this job, Until I get wire on some trees.
This time, I decided to get a hold of some old jades. These are sweet old trees. One was from a tree I had sold as a “mature” bonsai ten years ago, one was from a collection that the original owner got from Jim Smith, and one was from Jim Moody’s nursery that his grandson now maintains and improves.
Here are some of the before pictures.
I repotted this in May, with the intention of wiring it once it was established. It is now pretty established, with new growth everywhere and roots coming out the bottom.
And here is what it looked like after a couple hours of trimming and wiring.
And this guy. This is the tree I sold ten years ago. The previous owner has very good at keeping trees healthy, but only used shears to keep growth in check. Time for some work.
And here it is after I cut the straight sections out, the no taper areas, and the general flaws
Still too many branches. Ahh. Better. Now the wiring begins.
1)”don’t see jades as bonsai”. Why? Succulent growth for one. I don’t think that carries weight. For one, some Ficus are darn near close to succulents, and we use them in the world in many if not all tropical areas because they grow there and are just plain tough to kill. Boababs, though rare, also make amazing bonsai. And are VERY succulent trees. Among many others, too many to list, quite frankly.
2) “you can’t wire a jade’. For those folks I say, see above. The other beautiful thing is, if it starts to dig in, take the wire off, the branch sets, and the wire marks pump up like a water balloon.
3)”It doesn’t have a woody trunk” Well, that is very true. It is a succulent trunk. However, it does get a rough bark that gets rougher with age. And some varieties have a very rough, corky bark. The issue with jades in general is, if its kept too wet, too cold, or too shady. Or any combination of the three, you can get rot. Rot is the bane of any succulent. Especially if the trunk is the main focus. Having an entire trunk collapse due to a four day rain has crushed a few folk. To really put a damper on your day is for that to happen after ten years of work.
The trick is,
1)Don’t water after a re-pot till you see new growth.
2)Don’t work roots unless its hot.
3)Don’t put it in the shade. The growth will be long and lanky, and it’ll stay wetter longer. Not good for a succulent.
4)Don’t cut all the leaves off a branch. it might not back bud. I know many people will disagree and show the jades busting out all over after a defoliation from shears , or an elephant. Yes, the elephants do love them, and eat them to the stems. However, in a bonsai pot, it may abort bare branches to focus on new branches close to main trunk. That may set you back a season. Leaving one set of leaves per sub-branch will eliminate the problem.
5) Don’t water once the temp gets below 60 F, unless the leaves start to wilt, and that may take weeks. Root rot is the bane of jades, and water and stressed wet roots on a tropical succulent is a recipe for a seemingly healthy tree. Trust me, it happens. and if the tree is staying wet between watering, slow down your schedule. It’ll root twice as fast.
Root the cuttings. If you are so inclined. Nothing says house warming like a sweet little house plant I.E. future bonsai to your friends and family. they root fine in just about anything.
These are just guidelines. not rules listed in stone. Jades is a tough plant and tolerates tons of abuse. If you have any other advise, shoot a message in the response section, We may post it for you if its a good one.
After I saw Jim Smiths Jades at his nursery, back in 98, then later that day at his home, I knew these types of trees could end up being something amazing in the bonsai community, since Jim had obviously already shown everyone the possibilities. I didn’t post a picture out of respect for him, but you can google it and see some of the most amazing HUGE Jades in the US, maybe the world. He has two at Heathcote gardens in Florida if you ever get a chance to visit. I strongly suggest you do.
I’m going to start blogging about various types of trees we have at the nursery, to coincide with new inventory we are working and shaping. If you have a type you’d like info on that I have been growing , please put it in the comments section, or send me an Email through our “contact us” section on our website. I am also going to be offering these trees shown on this blog shortly, once wires have set some and they are back-budding profusely.
Thank you for your support,