Fall Bonsai Care

 – by Daniel Cruz

View of one bench of the bonsai selection

Fall is finally here and I couldn’t be happier to have the cooler weather we have had here lately. Gone for now are the days of just trying to keep plants alive and watered. By now you should have cut down fertilizing way back, 50% – 60% less.

The cooler weather will have caused most trees to put out an additional growth spurt. Keep an eye on any wired branches to ensure no branches become gouged by wire that is too tightly wrapped. Ficus in particular are fast growers and most likely to be gouged by your wire. Just like their full sized counterparts many conifers will begin a thickening and build up of their bark. Check your pines and junipers carefully and consider removing your wiring altogether or remove your wiring and replace, but slightly looser.

Deciduous trees will begin leaf drop soon, and this will give you a good opportunity to study your trees and make any plans for next year. Many bare bonsai trees are just as beautiful when bare of leaves, and look just as sturdy and strong as their bigger cousins. I only wish my maples looked as lovely as those grown in cooler climates, but I am truly happy for what I have. They look incredible in spring and even though I move them to shadier areas of my garden their leaves still turn brown around the edges. I was considering getting rid of my three maples, but decided that I would keep them. Just as many considered all the recent rain we have had lately a nuisance, many would consider it a blessing. I guess realistically, as much as we wish, we just can’t have sunshine on every day. To get rid of my maples because of a little leaf burn around the edges would be like hating roses because they have thorns.

Not too much work and lovely weather to boot!



houston bonsai
View of one bench of the bonsai selection

We have been making and selling Bonsai trees since the 1960’s.

Soon we will be adding more information and articles about growing Bonsais in our climate.

Be sure to watch for our bonsai classes.

Our prices run from $25 to $1000.

Because the inventory changes so often be sure to call first.

We will be posting photos of bonsai plants we have and have had here at Maas.

If you have a bonsai you are proud of, send a photo and we will put it here for all the world to see.
Bonsai Tips

Selecting a Pot

Bonsai is an art form. Because bonsai grow in shallow containers, they require frequent watering and inspection, careful pruning as well as occasional fertilizing, root trimming and repotting, to keep them healthy and within bounds. Bonsai are outdoor plants, but they may be brought indoors for short periods of time on special occasions or for display purposes. To keep top and bottom growth in healthy balance, a plant is periodically removed from its pot and three roots are trimmed back to encourage growth of new feeder roots, then repotted in fresh soil.

Styles: five main (but over 30 in all)
1. Formal upright
2. Informal upright (curved trunk)
3. Slanting
4. Half cascade
5. Cascade


houston bonsai
ficus, nice exposed roots


Bonsai grow and develop from spring to summer, thus they must store up nourishment in the soil to prepare for the winter. Spring is when most bonsai begin their growth cycle. Monitor your watering to meet the requirements of your plants. Pay particular attention to deciduous bonsai who are at their peak growing stage and coupled with warmer weather may require additional moisture. For flowering bonsai, after the buds have blossomed, remove any remaining flowers and buds from the tree (berries may be left on). Take care to rotate the plants often so that each side receives equal amounts of sun to avoid one side becoming weaker and the other over developing. You should begin fertilizing in April for most plants but not newly transplanted or repotted plants. Evergreens will be happy and flourishing if fertilized from the middle of March on. Wait until the middle of May to fertilize deciduous trees, otherwise the leaves get too big. Start pinching back to control new growth and keep the plant’s shape. Pinching terminal buds on a branch will force side branches to grow. Leave on buds that point in the direction you want a branch to grow, removing all others, particularly those on the underneath side of a branch. Cypress and juniper tips can be pinched back with your fingers at the joint. Best not to use shears or the ends will turn brown. Watch for wiring that may cut into the trees.

Fertilizing is particularly important because of the confined area in which bonsai grow. Underfeeding is better than overfeeding. Organic fertilizers such as cottonseed meal, fish emulsion or meal, blood meal, and bone meal are preferable to chemical compounds. Fertilize broad-leafed evergreens when new buds and growth appear in April. Apply small amounts of liquid fertilizer twice a month. Do not fertilize for two months after transplanting or repotting. Give acid-loving plants (camellias and azaleas) iron-based fertilizer. Don not fertilize fruit or berry bonsai with strong nitrogen when fruit is forming.


Continue rotating the position of the plants, as well as location (from sun to partial shade). Water regularly, preferably in the early morning or late afternoon. Overhead watering is beneficial, but avoid doing this during mid-day and the late evening.
Weather can be very hot this month so be careful to guard against sunburn. Feed all fast growing deciduous trees (except those with fruit, flowers or berries). May and June is the time for transplanting satsuki azaleas. Do not engage in any drastic pruning now that the growth period had ended. Wiring of smaller branches can be done. Continue with the usual fertilizing. Do not transplant or report in late summer.

houston bonsai


The growth period is ending and the plant will not require as much watering, but do not allow their trees to dry out. Try to keep a delicate balance between the minimum water requirement and evaporation due to any hot, dry weather. By mid-September, most conifers and deciduous trees can be transplanted. Begin preparation for winter. Trim any strong growth on the upper portions of conifers and clean off any dead needles. November is the last month that bonsai can be safely transplanted. Focus should be on dormancy, not stimulating growth. On deciduous trees, remove any wires that may be cutting in to avoid losing that branch during the winter. Remove any remaining leaves on deciduous trees. Refrain from fertilizing, transplanting or wiring this month.


houston bonsai


Summer Bonsai are in their dormant stage. They require less watering because of colder weather and rainy days, however if weather is warm, check your plants daily. No fertilizing or transplanting this time of year. January is a good time to shape deciduous trees, but be careful because branches can be brittle. Consider pruning any fruit-bearing bonsai. You may begin grafting on deciduous trees as well as pines and conifers. The best months for grafting conifers are January and February. In general, February to early March is the best time to transplant, replant or change soil. The best indicators of a need for soil change is not time, but the condition of the bonsai. A vigorous, healthy bonsai does not need its soil changed and should not be disturbed.












houston bonsai
A work in progress
Buxus macrophylla
Potted July 2012
















houston bonsai pots
We stock 100’s of bonsai pots!