Did I fertilize to early??

Jason

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I live in zone 8b in the Willamette Valley, OR. The buds on many of my deciduous trees (Hawthhorn, Maple, and quince) were starting to swell. Most of my trees are in turface, pine bark, granite mixture (some have some lava). I got spring fever and fertilized with some of the slow release Osomocote 14-14-14 yesterday. Did I mess up?? Last frost date is about May 15. Should have I waited for the leaves to harden off??:eek:
 

darrellw

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Hi Jason.

The rate that Osmocote releases is directly related to temperature, I think the "target" temp is 70 (that's the temperature that is lasts however long the package says). So until the temps get get warmer it won't release a lot. There is also a lot of debate whether or not fertilizer (in particular, high nitrogen) will cause a tree to do anything it wasn't going to do already.

I would be careful with how much Osmocote you use, the problem with the temperature release is that if it gets really hot, it can dump a lot of fertilizer into the pot.

-Darrell
 

ghues

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With Osmocote and other such slow release ferts, it also takes a certain moisture content as well as temperature to release.......... so you should be OK.
G
 

jk_lewis

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I think that using a time-release fertilizer can be dangerous for bonsai. First, no one has ever established an application rate for these fertilizers in pots as small as we use. You likely put much too much in the pot "just in case."

Second, you never know when the fertilizer capsules' release triggers are set off -- and how many of them may go off at once. By some statistical quirk you may have put a handful of the pellets in your pot that all go off at once -- overdosiing your trees. Or, you may have put in a batch that don't trigger for a couple of months (the better of these two extremes by far).

And third, you just never know whether your trees are getting fed what they need WHEN they need it. Bonsai management "requires" careful, scheduled application of fertilizer.

And fourth, it's just plain lazy.
 

Jason

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LOL...lazy :eek:. Ok ...maybe it's lazy. I do fertilize about every other week with miracle grow. But I agree there is an element of unpredictability with the slow release stuff. Isn't there also an element of unpredictability to the Growpower organic fertilizers (with humic acid) that everyone is so ga ga about? What about the special poo balls people spend hours making? It seems like all slow release fertilizers would be somewhat temperature and moisture dependent. Am I wrong?
 

Jason

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Oh, and sorry about the duplicate posts (if anyone noticed)...I was just attempting to correct my bad spelling.
 

mcpesq817

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I tried using some last year in spring along with liquid inorganics and seaweed/fish fertilizer every two weeks, with no problems. Because of the potential for dumping, I wouldn't use it in the summer.

I don't see using it as part of your fertilizer regimen as being "lazy" at all, especially if you understand the mechanisms of the release and plan for it.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Feeding bonsai with chemical fertilizers is like drinking Gatorade while you're running a marathon...calories and some minerals to sustain you for a while, but it isn't recommended as a runner's only intake. Chemical fertilizers are immediately available to the roots as they pass by them. Little nutrition remains in the pot, and what does is leached out with frequent watering.

Organic fertilizing feeds the SOIL...or rather, the bacteria that live in it. The bacteria live, die, and break down, making macro- and micro-nutrients available to the trees over a longer period of time. Nutrients are always available in the soil this way.

As for making organic cakes...you can do it quickly with some PlantTone, a little flour as a binder, and water. Mix it up to an oatmeal-consistency, spread it out on a board, score it into 1" squares, and let it dry for a few days. Takes a couple hours, and you have a 5-gallon pail of cakes for about $8.00. As an added bonus, the squirrels HATE it. They never dig in the pots with these cakes on them:D
 

Klytus

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You can always use your coir brush to swish it away.

Speaking for myself i would mix in a few granules into potting mix,at this time of year i begin to think of something vaguely organic to sprinkle of the surface and perhaps work in.

Later i will swish that away and mulch the pots to retain a just moist feel for longer,probably Orchid bark or Spagnum.

Into summer i will use a tub of 'Bonsai Fertilizer' or whatever comes to hand,maybe a little liquid seaweed as a drench but not too much.

Maybe a little bit more organic material and then swish the mulch away late summer.

I can then examine surface mycelia.
 

jk_lewis

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Jason . . . there is a very big difference between "slow release" fertilizers (organic fertilizer, generally) and "timed release" fertilizers. Slow release fertilizers release their chemicals as part of a natural chemical breakdown of the fertilizer constituents. Time-release fertilizers are held in little manufactured, ball-like capsules that pop open when temperature and humidity hit some kind of a target -- some earlier and some later -- but the stuff inside those little balls is plain old chemical fertilizer that is available to the tree immediately it is released and passes through bonsai soil rapidly -- like Miracle Gro.

Brian, our trees do not care whether they get organic fertilizer or so-called "chemical" fertilizer. (ALL fertilizers are made up of "chemicals", BTW). It's only how easily and quickly the stuff is available that is the difference between them -- all the mythos attached to "organic" notwithstanding.

Which you might want to use depends to some extent on the soil you use for your trees. If you use a 100% inorganic mixture (Turface and granite, for instance) "organic might be the way to go. The more organic material you have in your soil the better off you might be with an inorganic fertilizer. That has to do with how the molecules pass through the soil. Organic fertilizers tend to adhere to the inorganic soil, while inorganic fertilizers will tend to pass right through. If you have organic materials in your soil, the inorganic fertilizers tend to adhere to the organic particles and will stick around for a bit.

As an aside, many "organic" fertilizers do not have the micronutrients trees need.

But it's all pretty much a moot point, anyway, because we water so often that we flush the pots at least once a day and it's by-by fertilizer -- no matter what you use.

Poo balls are unsightly, often smelly, and unpredictable. They don't supply your tree with measured amounts of the chemicals the tree needs -- including micronutrients. They are an anachronistic holdover to ancient Japanese practices, but horticultural science has passed them by. They're the buggy whips of the plant nutrition world.
 

Shima

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Controlled release fertilizer's have evolved in the last few years to multi- and nano release delivery systems with more predictable results, encased in layers of polymer. They do not rely on heat, rather, H20, and if you are using a free-draining substrate there's little chance of overdose. I use it on everything from bamboo to bonsai.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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JKL: Correct in the sense that Nitrogen is Nitrogen...provided chemically or organically. But, my trees have never been healthier than when I went to organic feed and 100% inorganic soil a few years ago. It could be the lack of salts or other inert ingredients in the Peters or other chemical fertilizers, or it could be the constant presence of some nutrients in the soil (I can't even pretend to be a chemist;))...either way, the results are noticeable.

Incidentally, I couldn't find (and PlantTone couldn't confirm) the micro nutrients in their product either. I found a "complete" liquid organic micro nutrients (Eco-Vie) from sea water that I incorporate into my cakes as well.
 

TheSteve

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A new year a new inventing of the wheel. sigh. If you are using largely inorganic substrate it's nearly impossible to over feed. The whole point is to give the trees a little bit all the time so if inorganic ferts just rush on by then what's the harm? Besides wasting fertilizer. I'll try to set my watch by the emergence of the food argument so I'm on time next year.
 

irene_b

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A new year a new inventing of the wheel. sigh. If you are using largely inorganic substrate it's nearly impossible to over feed. The whole point is to give the trees a little bit all the time so if inorganic ferts just rush on by then what's the harm? Besides wasting fertilizer. I'll try to set my watch by the emergence of the food argument so I'm on time next year.
LOL Steve....Happens every year like clockwork.....
 

Shima

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A new year a new inventing of the wheel. sigh. If you are using largely inorganic substrate it's nearly impossible to over feed. The whole point is to give the trees a little bit all the time so if inorganic ferts just rush on by then what's the harm? Besides wasting fertilizer. I'll try to set my watch by the emergence of the food argument so I'm on time next year.
I included the bit about over feeding for those who expressed a fear of that in previous posts. And these polymer ferts are hardly re-inventing the wheel.
"Argument"? seemed like a reasonable discussion to me.
 

TheSteve

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My reference to reinventing the wheel was that if you go back on the forums you'll see this conversation come up every year and take the exact same course, maybe Greg should make one a sticky post or whatever they're called to save on bandwidth.
 

jk_lewis

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Of course, there always are new people -- to the site and to bonsai -- to whom this is an entirely new and puzzling issue. If it bores you, simply ignore it, rather than get snippy, though I suppose you could expect them to read all of the gazillion and a half message here before they bother you with a question
 

Jason

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Thanks for all the replies. I just wanted some opinions on the predicament I put myself into with the time release fertilizer. It was mostly the timing I was concerned about. It was a new situation to me and I wasn't sure how concerned I should be.

I didn't really want to be outside picking osmocote off my trees unless It was imperative. My neighbors probably already think I'm weird with all the little trees in the pots. :D Practicing bonsai, even laid back bonsai, can make you look a bit eccentric.

Hey there's an idea for another thread!!
 

rockm

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There isn't really a danger if the Osmocote has to be picked off. THere is some danger if it has to be scooped off. The biggest problem I've seen with the application of this stuff is it is almost always overapplied--layer of it around the base of some trees I've seen.

It's really not that much of a problem, once you understand how the stuff works--rising temps can cause the polymer to open up on all the particles to "dump" their fertiizer all at the same time. If it is has been applied to a soil mix that contains organics this can cause root burn or if applied to heavily, death to the plant, as the soil tends to hold onto fertilizer. Even soil less mixes can be a problem, if they're not watered adequately after the dump occurs-in other words a long sunny warm day that dries the soil out...
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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There isn't really a danger if the Osmocote has to be picked off. THere is some danger if it has to be scooped off.

HILAROUS! And I thought that was Kanuma...:D
 

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