Post exhibit clean up

All good things must come to an end. The bright reds of autumn have faded into drab browns signally the approach of winter. Once a bonsai has past its peak of fall color it needs to be cleaned up before we put it into winter storage.

This Japanese Maple is one of my favorite trees and always looks great in the fall. To keep it looking good, the foliage needs to be cleaned up. The leaves on the main trunk are already brown and falling off, while some of the leaves on the secondary trunks are still green. With mutli-trunked bonsai its common to see this variance between the trunks.

The leaves on the main trunk are brown and dry. Leaves at this stage can be plucked off with very little effort.

The leaves should come off by gently plucking them with your fingers.  If you encounter any resistance while pulling you will need to cut them off with scissors.

Within a few minutes the main trunk is devoid of leaves.

Some of the leaves on the other trunks are green and cannot be plucked without the risk of breaking branches or buds. They will need to be cut off instead.

When cutting the leaves make sure to leave a portion of the petiole or leaf stem.

A finished branch. The petioles will fall off in a few days

All the leaves have been removed and now we can fully appreciate this tree’s branch structure.

The soil surface of each bonsai exhibited was covered with moss in accordance with proper bonsai display etiquette. Once the exhibit is over, the moss is removed so that the soil does not stay too wet during the winter.

With the moss removed, the tree is almost ready to be placed into our Chinese Pavilion where we overwinter the majority of the bonsai. The last thing to do is scrub off any green algae with a toothbrush and water.

Removing old leaves and moss from trees before being put in winter storage is a good habit. This level of care will help reduce the risk of harmful pathogens during the winter and give your bonsai a head start going into spring.