Kempinski’s Korner – April 2022

It’s starting to get tropical….

April marks the end of temperate bonsai work season and the start of tropical work.  I like to wait until April 15 (after Uncle Sam has taken his share) to start repotting my tropical trees. I start with the trees that seem best suited for a bit of cool weather like Australian Pine. By May, when the evening temperature stays above 70 degrees F, I will report any topical such as Figs, Black Olive, Buttonwood, and Headache tree (Premna) etc.

My Headache trees (Premna obtiusifolia) are dropping the leaves that turned yellow over the winter and are flush. One can work on and trim or even defoliate tropical trees now. For example, this Headache Tree (Premna obtusifolia) came out of winter pretty well and is starting new growth.  I will put some wire and trim a few branches. A repot is in order this summer for it.  By the way, the pot is a dry riverbed type made by the late Dale Cohoy.  

Premna obtusifolia

BSOB Study Group at Backyard Bonsai has started again….

Dr Reggie Perdue restarted his study group and there was a good showing at his newly built bonsai garden and nursery. The camaraderie among other bonsai enthusiasts is always nice as bonsai can be lonely at times, but an even better benefit is it is always good to get several sets of eyes to evaluate a tree. One thing I noticed at the study group was the less experienced members have a tendency to not want to do what is necessary to style a tree.  One can’t be afraid to cut back, especially on a tropical tree.  For example, take a look at this Cuban Laurel fig after initial styling.

Cuban Laurel Fig (ficus microcarpa kinmen) after severe chop
Cuban Laurel Fig (ficus microcarpa kinmen) after severe chop

And here is the tree after a few years.  You must style a tropical tree well inside the final canopy to build ramification and taper.  Branch taper is key.  Cut any long skinny branches without any ramification.  And cut those branches back fairly hard. 

The Kraken, a fig style looks a little like a sea monster. Pot by Ron Lnag. 

Cuban Laurel Fig (ficus microcarpa kinmen) after severe years of growth and training
The Kraken – Rob’s Fig Style that looks like a sea monster.

Rob Kempinski

Rob is an internationally recognized bonsai artist and author.  He enjoys teaching bonsai at all levels and introducing newcomers to the pleasing art of growing miniature trees in a container.  Rob has written many articles for bonsai magazines and journals.  He has published several books, many on the art of bonsai.

Rob's Texas Sage
Rob Kempinski showing his texas sage

Bonsai Society of Brevard

For more detailed information contact our Brevard based Bonsai club.

The Bonsai Society of Brevard is one of the many clubs within the Bonsai Societies of Florida.