Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai

Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Club

Author: George Haas Page 3 of 6

Author for BASA website beginning on December 17, 2016.

BASA Meeting Notes from 9/27/2018 by Candace Key

• Reduction of foliage so sun can get to the interior of branches to encourage growth
• At this point at the end of growing season the trees will be bushy, so to make sure the interior of the branches do not get shaded out and the growth stunted. You do mesuki!!!!
• You must keep enough foliage on the branches though to ensure the nutrient/water flow, and the tree is still getting energy through photosynthesis.
• Take off downward pointing branches, but not upward pointing ones – they will be wired, now or in the winter. Always have some extra branches in case some are broken during wiring.

Preparing for winter –
• Trees should be fertilized now using 5-5-5.
• Darren’s method – take off 1/4 soil from the top, add fresh soil, add 5/5/5/fertilizer in tea bags and cover with yamagoki. This keeps the fertilizer moist and the nutrients more available to the roots. Leave on until February.
• Fish emulsion is also a good fertilizer, but if given during April or May, flowers will fade more quickly when it blooms

Start thinking about show trees:
• Trees you are planning to show can be wired now
• Put more work into the trees you are planning to show
• If trees are slow to bloom stress them a little to encourage the buds to open. Withholding water – to some extent – stresses trees and is a useful technique as well

Struggling and sick trees:
• Repotting now was discouraged except in the most extreme cases
• Emergency repotting – Remove just one inch of roots from the bottom and almost nothing from the sides. Disturb roots as little as possible and do a proper repot of the tree in March.
• Several trees seemed to be suffering from root problems, likely caused by too much water, possibly combined with too much heat (Trees stop taking up water when pot temperature reaches +/- 85º)
• Subdue and Banrot were recommended as treatment – regular strength, 2 applications 2 weeks apart.
• If root issues persist alternate Subdue with Banrot for best results, but do not use continuously because they will kill beneficial bacteria (see below)
• Root treatments can kill all bacteria and beneficial mycorrhizae. Hydroguard Bacillus Root Inoculant and Great White Shark Mycorrhizae are good brands for repopulation of beneficial organisms – available on line or local stores selling to the cannabis cultivators
• Hormex is recommended for root growth and trees in distress. Darren uses it after repotting a tree for about one month after. 10 drops per gallon

A few other pointers for repotting satsuki azaleas:
• Darren now uses a mix of medium and small size Kanuma in repotting small to medium sized trees. He finds that water flows through the soil better when the sizes are combined rather than separated in layers.
• Before repotting, thoroughly clean the inside of the pot with disinfectant, such as Physan 20. Rinse well and then let dry in the sun for several days.
• You can also use a 50 % solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to disinfect your pots.
• Always rinse the pot out well and let dry for a day or two. This is especially important if the pot had a sick tree in it prior.

23rd Annual Spring Show by Candace Key

The Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai welcomed visitors to their 23rd annual show of flowering satsuki azalea bonsai on May 19-20 at the Garden Center at Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. BASA is one of the few bonsai clubs dedicated to one type of bonsai which makes the show a rare opportunity for lovers of bonsai to see well developed trees in a very colorful display. Many of the trees exhibited were brought to the US from Japan and illustrated the fine form and mature growth of their pedigrees. Vendors Sho-Ju-En and North American Satsuki Bonsai Center, who import satsuki from Japan, were on hand to sell trees to those interested in beginning or adding to their own satsuki azalea collections.

This year’s show featured activities throughout the weekend highlighted by a styling demonstration by sensei Johnny Uchida on Saturday, culminating with his beautiful demonstration tree being won by BASA member Dennis Hawkins. On Saturday the club offered a beginning satsuki azalea class taught by senior members Rick Garcia and Darren Wong. Students were given instruction on developing, wiring, and maintaining their small colorful trees, a good start to their budding collections. On both days members doing seasonal care on their own trees answered questions and provided insights on the specifics of growing satsuki azaleas.

BASA has always welcomed suiseki and viewing stones in their displays, believing they are a natural complement to colorful azalea bonsai. This year the California Suiseki Society was invited to show a separate display of their stones alongside the bonsai. This collaboration proved very successful, eliciting many questions and wide interest among visitors to the show. A variety of stones were exhibited, including desert stones, figure stones, and traditional mountain stones, with most coming from California locations, showing off the rich resources we are so blessed to have nearby.

Among the satsuki azaleas there were several notable trees among the many treasures displayed: the Gyoten by Gordon Deeg was the centerpiece of the show, exhibiting mature growth in a large silhouette enhanced by graceful movement in the trunk and a profusion of flowers; Darren Wong’s beautiful cascade Suzu No Homare in a Satomi pot was widely admired; Gordon also showcased a novel presentation combining several trees and an elegant sculpture in a singular statement; but perhaps the most moving display was the Yamato satsuki Ray Moore contributed to the show. All of Ray’s magnificent bonsai, Japanese pots, stands, and tools were destroyed in the Santa Rosa fires in October 2017. Reeling from the loss, but undeterred Ray rose like the Phoenix with the help of teacher and mentor Rick Garcia and has been aggressively building a new collection this year. The imposing Yamato stood as a tribute to Ray’s resilience and spirit, an inspiration to all.

If you missed the show this year we hope you can attend next year on the third weekend of May.

23rd Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai Annual Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Show – May 19 & 20, 2018

The Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai (BASA) held their annual Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Show on May 19 and 20, 2018, at the Lakeside Park Garden Center, Lake Merritt, in Oakland, California. It was a “celebration of color” with the Satsuki Azalea bonsai in full bloom. A special display of suiseki (viewing stones) was presented by the California Suiseki Club. A great demonstration on Saturday was performed by Johnny Uchida on a Satsuki Azalea bonsai. On Sunday, a beginners class on creating Satsuki Azalea bonsai took place.

Here are some highlighted images of the Satsuki Azalea bonsai on display.

Meeting/Demonstration February 22, 2018 – Tool Maintenance

Gordon Deeg presented a program on tool maintenance at the last BASA meeting that was informative and comprehensive. This subject is rarely discussed, and his approach was lively and entertaining. He made what is a dry and technical subject both accessible and memorable.

Gordon brought along a series of stones and tools that make sharpening and maintaining tools an easier task, and emphasized the point that sharp, clean, well maintained tools are absolutely required to be able to do the work we need to do on our bonsai plants with a minimum of damage and exposure to disease, poor healing and scarring, The stones, he said, can be types that are lubricated with oil, water or diamond-impregnated surfaces that do not require lubrication. The coarse ones must be used first when the cutting edges are damaged or have been allowed to get very dull, followed by finer, then very fine ones. He noted that the grit value of a sharpening stone or surface is expressed in numbers that go from low, which are coarser, to high, which are finer, to very high, which are essentially grits used for polishing and refining a cutting surface so that the edge you work to create can last much longer and require less sharpening in the future. This means not less frequent sharpening, but less effort and time for the sharpening that should be done very frequently. A coarse grit would be rated at 600-800, used for re-establishing or correcting a damaged edge; a sharpening surface is rated at 1100 to 1600; a refining and polishing surface is rated at 1800-2200 for the tools commonly used in bonsai.

Gordon noted that many, maybe most bonsai professionals maintain their tools by quickly sharpening before each day’s use. In this way the tools always work well and last much longer. They become an advantage that saves time and effort. Once a good edge has been established, maintaining the blade becomes a matter of a few strokes on a fine or very fine surface, which only takes a minute or so.

The diamond surfaces were of special interest because they can be shaped to fit the cutting surface, so there are spindle shapes and graduated wave forms to fit any curved, hooked, or odd-shaped cutting surface. It was noted that the company, American Bonsai has two sizes of graduated funnel-shaped diamond sharpeners that are very useful for curved cutters.

American Bonsai Tool & Supply Co. – High Quality Stainless Steel Bonsai Tools & Supplies – American Bonsai offers high quality stainless steel tools and supplies for bonsai enthusiasts.

The process of sharpening causes microscopic metal filings to accumulate on the sharpener’s surface, reducing its effectiveness, dulling it, so to speak. It is this that the water or oil is for, because it floats most of the filings above the surface of the sharpener so they can be brushed or wiped away, which should be done frequently, even on dry sharpeners like diamond. Gordon even had a stone to grind across the sharpening stones, to renew the surface and flatten them out, because the act of sharpening tends to wear the middle parts of the stones and warp the surface.

There was more information given about how to use a hammer to correct the hinge point of a tool that binds or has become too loose, how to correct a tool whose blades don’t quite meet any more, and other small wonders of tool wizardry. Now I think he should present this vital and informative program every year. If he gives it again, be sure not to miss it.

–Chris Ross

Bay Area Satsuki Aikokai – Annual Spring Show

Recharge – Professional Strength Microbial Superpack

Warning: For your consideration, while bacteria and fungi of this product are beneficial to your plants, the same is not true for you. Those agents can be infectious for humans. They are common and we unknowingly encounter them in our gardening and potting of plants. Practice standard sanitary procedures to protect yourself. This product is dry and a bit dusty, be careful when handling that the dust or the liquid mix does not get in your eyes, nose or mouth, or cuts or sores you may have on your hands or arms. Just use reasonable precautions when using the product. Always read the instructions and caution labels.

Mary purchased a new product which has gained wide use by members of the North American Clivia Society. Clivias, even more than azaleas are subject to root rot, and this seems to be an important step in controlling the problem. It is produced by Real Growers (link below) of Fort Collins, Colorado. That is the home of Colorado State University (the old Colorado A&M), an important research university. I am sure, with Colorado’s legalizing marijuana, that this product was developed for that market. It is called ‘Recharge – Professional Strength Microbial Superpack’. I believe it could be quite useful to California azalea growers as our climate is very favorable to the growth of the various fungi that may cause root rot. Its best use is as a preventative, or after the application of anti-fungal chemicals that often deplete the soil in pots of the good fungi as well as the bad. The product is fairly expensive, the basic containers 8 ounces, 16 ounces and 5 pounds, and is used at the rate of 2.5 grams per gallon of water, applied I noted that the label calls for continuous or frequent use every 7 to 10 days. And I also think that is intended for the commercial growers, probably using flow through watering and fertilizing systems. For our purposes I think use with regular periodic feedings would be very adequate. All we really need is the agents be introduced into our potting soil. They should be self-sustaining and in fact thrive unless there are unusual circumstances such as extreme temperatures or the introduction of fungicides or anti-biotics. One 16 oz. container will make about 160 gallons of solution.

Perhaps we could find a way to split a container among those that might be interested. The contents include spores of six fungi and starting colonies of four bacillus. I’m going to use some of Mary’s on my azaleas, particularly as I repot them, or if any show signs of trouble I’ll keep a record so I can report in the product efficacy from my experience. From the label – “This product is intended to be used as a soil amendment to establish colonies of beneficial bacteria (and fungi) in horticultural systems.” Also available from Amazon, but what isn’t!
– – Don Meeker


Recharge is loaded with mycorrhizae and Trichoderma fungi as well as the strongest microbe package available anywhere. We add organic goodies including kelp, molasses, humic acid, fulvic acid and amino acids to develop a healthy colony of living soil microbes. Undiluted, uncut and delivered at true professional strength concentrations.

Real Growers Recharge Natural Plant Growth Stimulant



Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt Annual Auction & Sale

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