The start of meteorological Spring arrives with a level of anticipation and an itch to make a start on our March bonsai jobs.
I must admit that March is my favourite month for several reasons – the anticipation of the growing season, the warmer weather and seeing the signs of life make this month special. March is like a jack-in-the-box, loaded with coiled up optimism and it’s ready to go at any minute.
This winter has predominantly been warm and wet with heavy, persistent rains and storm-level winds being the main factors stopping us getting out into the garden.
It can still be quite cold at the beginning of March and we must resist some of the urge due to the risk of frosts. Still, there are things that we can do to prepare for the glut of green-fingered work that lies ahead.
So, here’s our list of bonsai jobs that you can be getting on with this month.
Check trees for signs of life
Check your deciduous trees for signs of bud swell, as this will be an indicator for repotting for many species. You will need to check your trees regularly if you want to time your repotting correctly.
This will be an ongoing job throughout March and April, and the trees themselves will decide when they are ready.
It is natural to want to dive straight in, bonsai tools in hand. But we do have to remind ourselves that it’s still early in the year and that we need to be careful.
Starting too early can damage, if not kill, bonsai trees. So If you are in any doubt about repotting then wait, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Mid-March onwards will present repotting opportunities for trees. Just as the buds are about to break is the correct time for many deciduous trees. You should already have chosen the pot you’re going to use and obtained any soils, potting mesh and other materials that you need.
Tidy up display areas
Having a good tidy up now will reward you later.
Once your trees are ready for repotting, they will be able to go on display and all your hard work will seem worth it. The area will also be ready to accommodate any trees that have been over-wintered when you move them back.
However, if you need to treat wooden display benches then you may need to leave them empty for a while to be safe for trees. Always research any wood treatments and make sure that you understand the application and aftercare.
Treating benches is a great job for nice early spring day, with the radio on and a flask of tea at the ready.
Wash out used pots
If you didn’t do this job at the end of summer, then now is the next best time. Give your used pots a thorough wash and put them on the shelf ready for use.
We have a three-stage washing process to make sure that any of our used pots are clean and sterilised.
- Give the pots a good scrub using hot water and washing up liquid. Use a dish brush to get
into all the corners and remove any residual dirt.
- For any pots with water stains, a solution of lime scale remover is mixed in a bucket. The pots
are placed in the bucket for 30 minutes for the lime scale remover to do its thing. If any lime scale marks remain, a localised application of vinegar may help.
- Finally, the pots go in the dishwasher to be washed at high temperature. We don’t use any
dishwasher chemicals at this stage. The aim is a final clean, and the high temperature will
sterilise the pots.
Add a bird box
Providing shelter for wildlife is easier then you think. The simplest way is to add a bird box or bat box to your garden for them to move in to, but make sure that you choose one to suit the birds you have in your area.
It will soon be time for birds to start nesting and adding a bird box to your garden will be both helpful and rewarding.
Remove pond netting
If you have a pond and netted it to prevent leaves from falling in, then now is the time to remove it. Roll the netting up and store it for use later in the year.
So now you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in to your bonsai jobs for March. The warmer weather will be here before we know it!