13 June 2014

Evergreen tree from the tropical regions of the Americas.

Calliandra surinamensis
Calliandra tenuiflora
  • Surinam Powder Puff
  • Pink Powder Puff
  • Surinamese Stickpea
  • Officiers-kwast
  • Pink Poodle

Origin: Surinam

Showy pink flowers, like a powderpuff, are bright pink
 on the surface and pale pink to white inside

 Calliandra surinamensis is a low branching evergreen tropical shrub that is named after Surinam, a country in Northeastern South America. The plant usually has branched or multiple trunks and grows to a height of about 15 feet. Left unpruned it grows long thin branches that eventually droop down onto the ground, the bees love it. The flowers appear on and off all year - more during warm weather. This tree is an excellent container plant for the cooler climates where it must be protected from frost and freeze. The puffball blooms attract honey bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The leaves close overnight. Exposure to the sun encourages flowering. From spring to autumn growth is intense and it uses a lot of water. In winter water consumption is moderate. Calliandra does not like soggy soils. 

white, fan-shaped artist's brushes
dipped into deep pink paint

The flower buds are.like little rounded berry clusters

The seed pods are red then green
and turns brown and dry when mature.

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds direct sow immediately. Flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. Surinam powder puff has dense foliage and is a fast grower. A flat pod, first green later brown, contains 5 - 6 seeds; it curls open to release the brown seeds. 

Calliandra surinamensis

Calliandra surinamensis
seedlings @ 1 year

This plant is cultivated for its ornamental purposes; it can also be used for bonsai. Much energy is spent  in the production of flowers and fruit; after flowering don't let the seeds mature if trained as a bonsai. Calliandra is a cold sensitive plant and must be protected from frost and freezing. 

Fertilize with nitrogen - phosphorus - potassium and micro-nutrients for plant health. Fertilizers rich in phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) encourage flowers and fruiting while nitrogen (N) encourages leaf growth. 

Calliandra surinamensis-DSC7941
A low branching shrub or small tree with multiple trunks

Calliandra surinamensis (4)
flat pod, first green later brown, contains 5 - 6 seeds;
it curls open to release the brown seeds.


04 June 2014

Sagos are breaking

7 headed sago
6 " pot

Cycas revoluta
Sago Palm
King Sago

The periodic "flush" of new leaves Sagos produce is called a "break". They can be grown as a houseplant, anywhere with adequate bright light. C. revoluta are one of the simplest and most forgiving of all plants to bonsai. Drought tolerant. Chronic over watering can kill the plant; do let the soil dry out. (colder = drier) Avoid overhead watering; this may cause rot. Re-pot in spring or summer. Cycads prefer to be root bound and should be re-potted into a container only slightly larger than the root system. If roots are trimmed for bonsai use, remove a comparable amount of lower leaves. Fertilize at one-third strength during the growing season. King Sago is a easy care "living fossil", from the Far East that resembles a palm tree but is a cycad. 

MULTI-HEAD SAGOS are an unusual creation of Mother Nature. While large Sagos often produce new offshoots at the base or sides of the trunk and eventually grow into huge multi-branched clumps, this species occasionally produces a cluster of heads in the crown. Small multi-head and multi-trunk sagos in 6" to 10" (15 to 25 cm) pots are extremely rare and provide unique additions to indoor plant collections. Small multi-head or multi-trunk sago palms are often used as a subject for bonsai. Cycads are one of the simplest and most forgiving of all plant genera to bonsai.

Small multi-trunk sago
6 " pot

Cycas revoluta is one of the easiest plants to grow, indoors or out. It is not unusual for potted specimens to be hundreds of years old.  The sago palm is native to Japan’s southernmost islands—a subtropical area of high rainfall and warm temperatures. RE-POTTING is best done in spring or summer. Cycads prefer to be root bound and should be re-potted into a container only slightly larger than the root system. Never over-pot a Sago. King Sago will actually grow well in almost any medium provided that it is well-drained. If roots are trimmed for bonsai use, remove a comparable amount of lower leaves. 

triple-trunk sago
Gloucester Street
Brunswick. Ga


triple-trunk sago and single-trunk sago

multi-branched clump

Twin-trunk sago with pups

triple-trunk sago

male and female sagos
Union St
Brunswick, GA


C. revoluta-
close-up of maturing seeds.

 Sago Palms in Yoshino Park
Kagoshima City  
Japan in 1985

Sagos at private residence in Kagoshima City

31 May 2014

Don’t Forget To Water!!!

water spray

With days in the 90′s 
and nights in the 50′s to 60′s

Don’t Forget To Water!!! 

Place bonsai in the shade

30% shade in Savannah

Place Trees In The Shade- This will help the most. Full-sun in New York is about 30% shade in Savannah. Our plants growing in full-sun this summer are showing signs of stress. While plants are adapted to the sun, there can be too much of a good thing. The plants given shade/filtered light are greener and healthier than those in full-sun for the summer. 

Soil maintains a comfortable, stable temperature year-round, but in containers roots can be overheated due to high temperatures. Shade the containers to  cool down soil temperatures and prevent overheating 

Watering the leaves of a Chinese Elm

 Chinese Elm

Water the Foliage- Watering the leaves of your bonsai will cool the foliage. The heat and low humidity evaporate the water off of the leaves before it can take the water out of the leaves. This is especially important for trees that have been allowed to dry too much between watering as it reduces their stress. Please keep in mind that watering the foliage in the cooler night and evening temperatures may cause fungal problems for certain species. In hot, dry air this moisture evaporates before there can be a problem. 

Do Not Bring Temperate Bonsai Inside- Due to the constant use of air conditioning, bringing bonsai indoors that have been growing outdoors will not be the best thing for them. Air-conditioned air, while cooler, is extremely dry. Dry air with low light is stressful for temperate plants, and it is the worst thing for hardy trees.

Do not forget to water bonsai 
There is no faster way to kill trees.

Japanese juniper

Junipers and pines will not give warning by wilting in advance. If they have been forgotten, follow the previous three steps and hope for the best. There is not much else one can do.


14 May 2014

Burtt Davy's Fig

Dwarf South African Fig 
(Ficus Burtt-davyi "nana")
African species used for bonsai.
South African Fig, Scrambler Fig, and Veldt Fig

Ficus burtt-davyi "nana"

small green "figs"

South African Fig, Scrambler Fig, Veldt Fig
Burtt Davy's Fig

This is a small leafed variety of ficus that makes great bonsai. The leaves can reduce to 5mm or less with strong light. They have an abundance of branches for styling and may be used for very small bonsai.. Defoliate for ramification.

This ficus produces small green "figs" that turn dark red. Seeds will not be produced outside of its natural range because it needs a pollinator wasp for fertilization. Treat them like any other ficus. Keep the tree uniformly moist during the growing season. Burtt Davy's Fig is a rambler growing on rocky cliffs and is tolerant of drought conditions, so do not let the soil stay constantly wet especially in cool weather.  

Dwarf South African Fig
(Ficus Burtt-davyi "nana")

Ficus burtt-davyi make excellent shohin or mame bonsai and adapts easily to a cascade style. Aerial roots form quite easily on the ficus burtt-davyi so they make great root-over-rock or banyan style bonsai. Repotting is done when the tree is actively growing, Here we start doing major work with these trees the end of May.

Big trunks can be created by fusing several smaller trees together.

African species used for bonsai

Burtt Davy's Fig


The ABC's of Indoor Ficus Trees (Abc's of Indoor Plants, Vol 1)


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