Every month gives us an opportunity to spend time on and in our great bonsai hobby. January is no different. Even though half of the United States is wrapped in a blanket of either snow or ice, or cold, there are things you can do now to grow your knowledge and spend time with your trees.
A great way to stay involved in the hobby during the Winter months is by learning more about the many different aspects of bonsai by reading, watching videos, and listening to our Bonsai: Conversations with a Master Series. Any of these will increase your knowledge of bonsai and not only make it easier for you to care for your plants; it will also make it easier for you to produce the styles and looks that you are hoping for with your plants.
As far as your bonsai are concerned, January is a great time to shape and prune the roots on your plants.
Deciduous plants like maples, elms, and the like are dormant and can be easily shaped because without leaves, it’s easy to see everything. Depending upon the style you have chosen for the plant, you can remove all of the branches, from fine to large and dead, that need to be removed to make your tree look like a large tree in miniature.
Deciduous trees and Juniper plants are either fully dormant or dormant enough to prune the roots during January and February. When you are pruning the roots, the first task is usually to shake out all of the dirt and comb the roots. Then, the second task is to prune the roots. Just remember that you want to remove 20 – 30% maximum. That means that when you are combing the roots, and the roots break off in your rake, you count those roots in the total 20 – 30%. A good rule of thumb is to think of it just like a haircut: remember that you can always take more off, you can’t put it back on. So, as in most things, “less is more!”
So, even if it is 16 degrees outside and there is 6 foot high snow drifts, you can still enjoy the bonsai hobby. One of the great things about this hobby is there is always something to do. Like I said, this month, you can learn, shape, and root prune your plants. There is more than enough to keep you interested, but not so much that it’s a chore. That’s what I love about bonsai. The bonsai hobby is one of the most rewarding, yet least expensive hobbies in the world.