Help Your Bonsai Weather The Storm

Well it’s that time of year again here in Florida…………Hurricane Season Baby!!!!!!  Months of unpredictability, Wind gusts, flying debris and SHEETS of rain.  Sounds so relaxing…. just like in the brochures, doesn’t it?

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Actual hurricanes though are not really your most pressing problem, statistically.  It’s the sudden thunderstorms this time of year that roll in out of nowhere that will cause serious issues with your bonsai trees if you’re not prepared.  This goes for any “stormy season” regardless of where you live.

Years of work will be destroyed in a few seconds.  The time put into securing your trees is more valuable in my opinion than the work you have done.  We secure most everything else in our lives, let’s not forget the trees!

These storms literally come out of nowhere.  The skies will be blue and clear, and by the time I drive to the store and get out of the car (10 minutes later mind you), it’s pouring rain, and branches are flying off of trees in parking lots.

I’ve had bonsai trees fall, we all have….and for the most part they won’t die usually.  But you will lose the pot, branches and worse a section of the tree.  You also lose some of your ego 🙂

Protecting your hard work and investments starts with your benches.  They must be truly stable.  Even if you tie the trees to your bench, wind can knock the whole bench over…..and there goes all the trees.

Secure the benches firmly in the ground if they are not heavy enough to be stable on their own.

Air should flow through the bench surface as well. For example, use slats or wire mesh as opposed to solid pieces of plywood.  Wind will catch plywood like a kite and it’ll go flying!

The bench below is well spaced, and air will flow through which will not cause lift…the leaves are nice too!

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To secure my trees I use nylon cord.  You can use bungee cords, wire, rope, and a host of other things as well.  Find what works best for you.  This step will address the wind factor during this time of year….well for any time of year for that matter!

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Nylon Cord

I like the nylon as I’ve found it to stay cleaner longer than bungee cords, it is also less intrusive on the tree, soil and pot.  Comes in a host of colors too.

Another benefit is that it is less visually distracting from the tree.  Big bungee cords can make a nice tree look less than wonderful.

Here are a couple of smaller trees tied down:

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Chinese Elm
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Royal Poinciana

You don’t have to go crazy with making them too tight.  I make them just snug, so this way I can slide the nylon cord off and remove the tree from the bench for whatever the reason may be (studying, styling, repotting, etc).  When you put it back, it’s easy to slide the cord over the pot again.

Doing this takes but a few minutes & the relief of worry and stress is priceless.  No more wondering if any of your trees fell today.

Now what about all the rain…and even more so the HUGE rain drops by the millions hitting trees like missles?!?  Mother Nature, she is the best!

Heavy downpours will wreak havoc on the soil in your pots and can also damage some of your smaller more delicate trees.  Fast, Heavy rain will clear half the soil out of a trees pot in minutes in some circumstances.

At the same time though I don’t think that the trees should be kept fully sheltered all the time in worry of bad weather.  This wouldn’t be good for them.

Part of growing trees is taking risks, and this is a risk that partly has to be taken.  We cannot predict weather, regardless of how hard we may try but some of the risk can be alleviated.

How? With a Shade cloth.

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Shade cloth structures work wonders for Bonsai.  Besides blocking the blazing sun, they also slow down rain fall.  Here’s a post on one I built recently.

The cloth can always be taken down once it’s not needed for the year anymore.

Now, some storms are just too severe, and you will have no choice but to get them to safety.  If that is the case bring them inside until the storm passes.  I have a shed outdoors where I house my trees during those times.

Bringing them in and out is annoying but the “bonsai two step” is necessary at times.  Whatever it takes!

Hopefully these few steps and reminders will help put your mind at ease and your trees will appreciate it also.

Cheers!!

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