October 2018: Bonsai and Dead plants

   Well it’s October.I tend to write about what ever is on my mind at the moment I start writing. Today it is bonsai trees and dead plants. Bonsai plants are a favorite of mine.The patience and skill to spend years developing a well shaped bonsai, pretty cool. Some of the bonsai plants we get can be decades in the making.So when someone buys one and it dies it is sad on several levels.Bonsai have by design very shallow roots so they dry out quickly.They can be made from almost any tree or shrub, some are good house plants and some are for outside.

I remember years ago we had a man buy a nice, not too expensive bonsai juniper to put on his kitchen table. I told him several times that junipers need to be outside.He put it inside anyway. Well, it died. it took a few months, but it died., He was mad when I did not replace it for him.  Oh, and it died a month or so before he came in to tell me it was suffering.  If he had come in sooner, as in before it died, we would have had a chance to get him to move it outside as we told him when he bought it. We had another man who bought a bonsai, he lived on the bay. We told him to water every day. He was convinced that any plant on the bay side of his house did not have to be watered. It would magically absorb enough moisture from the dew and moist breezes. Not true .He called a few days after he bought his bonsai to see why it was wilting so badly.well-shapedWe talked about watering every day by hand, not by moist breezes. He called in time and his bonsai recovered.

The point being, if you buy a plant and it starts looking bad call before it dies!!!If you do not call and it dies, it is not my fault that you did not try to get help.
Most plants need daily watering  through the first 2 summers.It is not fair to us if you loose a plant because you do not take care of it and then want another one for free.We are not a giant rich company.Maas Nursery is run by a small group of gardeners, plant lovers , family and friends.

Our replacement policy, try to keep it fair. If you lose a plant and I have lost some too, then we replace the plant for free. If you lose one and we never lost one before, maybe it’s not a bad plant.Our warranty is based on the health and quality of the plant.loseIt is not a guarantee that it will not die at your house.We make sure we do our part, you have to do yours.

In general we are much more generous if we get a chance to fix the problem before the plant is dead. We can almost always solve the problem and save the plant if you call in time.If it needs more water, less sun, spraying for an insect, CALL us.We can walk you through what to do.But if you loose a plant our policy is to give a 50% discount on the replacement.

The idea there is that then we both have some skin in the game.Across the board free replacements tend to make a person less motivated to care for the plants they just bought,”Oh well. I’m busy this week, no time to water.  But Hey, if the plants die they will just give me new ones.”I actually had a friend from out of state say that one time.That doesn’t seem fair does it.

So, I drifted away from bonsai trees for a few paragraphs.Bonsai is the art of miniaturization of a tree with trimming, bending, root reduction, etc to make it look like a small version of a full sized tree found in nature.
The reason bonsai plants are on my mind today is that I have been working on expanding our bonsai area the last month or so.More space, new plants, more pots, pedestals and stands.We are going to just about double what we have.Many of the new plants are already here with more to come.

There are varieties that work well inside as well as some that are best outside.We have old ones and young ones.There are also some that might survive a missed watering or two, just don’t go days.

Paul, Jim, and Daniel are the most bonsai knowledgeable for technical and trimming questions, but anyone can help with general information.Also the Houston Bonsai Society has free quarterly outreach and teaching here at the nursery. Check when you are here or each month in this newsletter to see Clyde’s schedule.
Once or twice a year we will be having a class on growing bonsai plants. The class is taught by Jim, and or Paul and I think Clyde will usually be here too, and sometimes Daniel.

The class usually is hands on and you make a bonsai to take home as part of the class fee. It is a great class. We have limited supplies for the bonsai class, so sign up as soon as you decide you want to come and get registered on line. As I remember, the last class filled up pretty fast