They say, “If you’re not killing trees, you’re not learning.” Well, I guess I’ve done a lot of learning, and one of the main reasons is #4 on the doing-it-wrong list: working on weak trees. 

I have styled trees right after collecting, repotted trees that haven’t been growing well, and defoliate trees with weak growth. (Don’t do any of these things!) I was often the cause of the weakness too. I have underwatered, under fertilized and over stressed many trees over the years. I just didn’t know better.

One thing that always caused problems for me was advice from experts about things like watering and fertilizer. And the reason for the problem is simple. The advice I was reading was on caring for mature, refined bonsai, but all of my trees were in development… EARLY development!

Step One before performing work on a tree should always be to determine if the tree is strong and healthy! If the answer is no, the work can wait. Get the tree healthy first!

If you haven’t caught the first few doing-it-wrong posts, feel free to check them out here:

Doing It Wrong #1, Doing It Wrong #2, Doing It Wrong #3