Program on Fall/Winter Bonsai Prep with Valerie Monroe

October 21, 2016 @ 7pm

We're very happy to welcome Valerie Monroe back again this month. This time she'll be talking about Fall and Winter prep, focusing on black pine, azalea, and juniper.

As fall approaches, trees are slowing down for winter, often giving us a colorful display of leaves. Let your deciduous trees have their fun, but don't forget about their more sedate cousins. This month, the emphasis will be on conifers and broadleaf evergreens. In this season of late growing what can we do to prepare our trees for winter, and more importantly, next years spring? The key is in the pruning. The different ways we prune our trees will show up in a different way as those trees grow out.

Valerie will present tips and techniques to help your trees produce beautiful even foliage in the next growing season. There will be a discussion (with an opportunity for hands on learning) covering what specific tasks to do on which species. Members are welcome to bring in a tree and have questions answered as time permits. Valerie Monroe is a longtime member of Sei Boku Bonsai Kai. She has been involved with Bonsai and aesthetic pruning for over thirty years. She hopes to inspire others to enjoy and appreciate beautiful trees as much as she does.

Valerie Monroe (left) at our 2015 show
Figure 1 – Valerie Monroe (left) and Gail Lane after winning the demo tree at our 2015 show

Club News

2017 Show Dates Announced

Due to renovations at Lucie Stern Community Center, our 2017 show will be held June 23 – 25. This is almost two months later than our normal show time of April. So keep these dates in mind when making vacation plans for next year and choosing and prepping your trees for show.

New Club Librarian

I am very happy to announce that Christine Weigen has volunteered to be our new Librarian! Christine will be bringing an assortment of beginner’s and advanced bonsai care books and the latest issues of magazines each month for your perusal and checkout. Members are encouraged to take advantage of this resource provided by the club. If you are interested in a specific topic, refer to ClubLibrary for a catalogue of the library. You can then contact Christine to request she bring a specific book or magazine to the upcoming meeting

Video Experiment

The visual presentation has never been better than that enjoyed at our September demonstration thanks to Mark O’Brien and Christoff Dressel. They brought a personal camera and projector and positioned it so that it was like looking over Jerry’s shoulder as he analyzed and worked on each tree. So a big THANK YOU goes to Mark and Christoff for coming up with this idea and making it happen. As the club already owns a projector screen that was donated in years past, the board will be discussing the possible purchase of a camera and projector for future use.

Valerie Monroe (left) at our 2015 show
Figure 2 – Jerry Carpenter's demonstration was much easier to see thanks to the experimental setup

Upcoming November Potting Party

Our first potting party for the 2017 show will be Sunday November 20 from 10AM – 4PM at the Plantings home. That’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving so save the date. More details will be available in the November newsletter.



GSBF Convention

Headliners: Ryan Neil and Bjorn Bjornholm. More Workshops and Seminars from: Kathy Shaner, David Nguy, Peter Tea, and others.

Where: The Double Tree By Hilton 2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815. Hotel phone: 916-924-4900 (ask for the “GSBF Group Rate”)

For more information, contact: Scott Chadd, GSBF President at: 530-622-9681 or On-line registration opens on July 1, 2016 Click here:

Timely Work Schedule

Each month there are a number of tasks you need to do to your bonsai - from repotting, to fertilizing to spraying for pests. We have put together a checklist, customized for the San Francisco Bay Area to help you. This checklist is adapted from earlier work by Mitsuo Umehara.

This month: October Tasks

September Meeting Recap

We had a great turnout for our meeting and Jerry analyzed and discussed some twenty trees. Jerry said the roots are the telltale sign if a tropical or subtropical tree is healthy or not. The leaves could look fine but the roots could be in bad health.

Silverberry: This is the time of year to cut back inside to the last leaf. Can take all leaves off and it will produce tiny leaves and more ramification. When temperatures are less than fifty degrees, trees stop growing as it slows down to conserve energy. You can repot in late spring until late September if sustained low temps are above fifty degrees.

Olive: Leaves can be removed four to five times a year. California scale is their most common pest. Can also have white flies on the underside of a leaf but they can be washed away by watering from below.  Rosemary oil can be used to suffocate the pests.

An olive has three stages of barking indicated by the colors green, purple, and gray. The best time to cut a branch is in the purple stage. A black scar will appear where you cut a branch or trunk in the gray stage.

Peruvian pepper tree: This is a subtropical tree. You should not let your pets get near them as the oil on the tree is “flaming” hot and will kill a cat.

Note there is an article on poisonous bonsai in the upcoming issue of Golden Statements magazine.

Schefflera: A tropical plant which should be potted in conifer bonsai mix vs. a deciduous mixture. A "cutting" will develop roots in just water or planted in soil. Any trees that tend to have ‘die-back’ should be flat cut, not concave. So prune with a knob cutter vs. a concave cutter. Leaves can be cut weekly.
Place outdoors in full sun on a humidity tray but don't sit in actual water. Never put a schefflera in a window indoors because glass magnifies heat and cold.

Brazilian rain tree: Has leaves that are sensitive to light. Leaves have sharp “teeth” but interestingly the tree doesn't respond to touch. At sixty degrees it will start shutting down and stop growing, so bring indoors and put under a lamp/light. It blooms in June. Jerry measured the temp of the soil and it was seventy degrees. Use a thermometer to monitor soil temperature. This tree is very popular bonsai material in the Southern states.

Creeping fig: This tree had black/ripe figs all over it but Jerry said the figs are poisonous to humans. Because a creeping fig wants to grow downward, it took five years for Jerry to develop it into an upright tree. Chopsticks can be used to control branches or wire loosely with aluminum wire.

Bougainvillea: This is a subtropical tree with blooms on the very ends of the branch. The flower is not really a flower but an extension of the branch. The fuchsia colored is the "hardiest" of the different colors. Never cut back the feeder roots of a subtropical tree. Cut the root and the branch it was feeding will die.

Ficus: Donna brought in this tree that she won at a Sei Boku demonstration worked on by Jerry. Jerry said ficus look best when they have large horizontal branching and you shouldn’t style a ficus in a triangular shape.
Fertilize year round as they never go dormant. Seaweed extract is a good slow release fertilizer.

Jade tree: Jerry said you should never let the trunk dry out as it will shrink and you will never get it to expand again. The more sun it gets, the smaller the leaf. It will generate aerial roots if it gets enough humidity.

Crepe myrtle: Repot before it blooms.

Boxwood: Boxwood are considered semi tropical because it's best to repot them in the summer when low temps are above fifty degrees.

Bhodi: This tree is native to India and its root material has been known to cover buildings.

Ficus retusa (aka Banyan Fig or Taiwan Ficus): Figs on this tree can be eaten!

Thanks to Jerry for leading the program and everyone who brought such a wide variety of trees in. It was a really good program.

Filoli Bonsai Workshop Recap

As most of you know, several members of our club volunteer to maintain the bonsai at Filoli, a 654-acre estate in Woodside, CA owned by National Trust for Historic Presevation. Bonsai have been a part of Filoli's gardens since the early 20th Century. Every Wednesday morning a group of volunteers from our club get together to care for these bonsai by weeding, pruning, wiring, repoting, etc.

Below are a few pictures from the recent repotting of a large wisteria. It probably hadn't been repotted in 20 years, so it was a major effort involving members of the Filoli gardening staff to get it out of the original pot and our club members who pruned and repotted it into a new, larger pot.

If you're interested in being a part of this effort please contact Rita Curbow, our club president.

Combing out roots Combing out roots Combing out roots
Adding Soil Working soil into roots Back in the garden

Club Calendar

November: For our Nov 18 program, Jonas Dupuich will discuss “Exposed Root Black Pines”. He will also be vending an assortment of akadama, kanuma, pre mix and bonsai supplies so come prepared if you need these items.

The beginner’s Bonsai Class with Jerry is November 12.

Other Events

October 8 – 9, 2016 Oakland, California
East Bay Bonsai Society: Annual show held at the Lakeside Garden Center at 666 Bellevue Ave. Show hours are 10 AM to 5 PM Saturday and 11 AM to 4 PM Sunday with demonstration and raffle from 1 to 3:30 PM on Sunday. Free admission and show will feature over 50 trees of various varieties and ages. For more information contact us at

October 15 – 16, 2016 Union City, California
Yamato Bonsai Kai: 45th Annual Bonsai Exhibition and Demonstration will be held at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church, 32975 Alvarado-Niles Road. Hours: Noon - 6 PM Saturday & 10 AM - 5 PM Sunday. Demo each day at 1:30 PM featuring Johnny Uchida, with Mike Baker and Tony Hayworth. Don’t miss this special event. Benefit raffle drawing each day after the demo; raffle includes the demo tree. Large vendor and plant sales area plus admission and parking is free. Doctor Bonsai support will be available. For more information call Tony Hayworth at 510-289-5731 or or visit our club website

October 27-30, 2016 Sacramento, CA
Golden State Bonsai Federation Convention 39 “A Bonsai Convergence: Gather At The Rivers” Convention. Headliners: Ryan Neil and Bjorn Bjornholm. More Workshops and Seminars from: Kathy Shaner, David Nguy, Peter Tea, and others. Where: The Double Tree By Hilton 2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815. Hotel phone: 916-924-4900 (ask for the “GSBF Group Rate”) For more information, contact: Scott Chadd, GSBF President at: 530-622-9681 or On-line registration opens on July 1, 2016 Click here:


See GSBF Calendar for additional items

Articles We Recommend

Intro to Bonsai
About Your New Tree
Redwood Basics
Pine Pests

Other Sites We Recommend

Michael Hagedorn's blog
Bonsai Tonight
Peter Tea's blog

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