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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Hamisu" for the Heat! (With thanks to Michael Hagedorn.)

     Summer heat seems to be creating problems in some unusual places. Even a couple of bonsai-blogging friends in Northern Ireland have reported temperatures up to 33 ° C (91.4° F,) which apparently is quite unusual for them. While we here haven't had the extreme heat and drought of last summer, we just went thru the first "heat advisory" of the season, and I'm sure there will be more.

Wayne Schoech of "Bonsai Bark" blog thoughtfully reposted an item from Michael Hagedorn of Cratageus Bonsai, that has to do with summer heat. I did a little digging, and here are excerpts from two posts Michael wrote about the Japanese practice of hamisu.

From July 12, 2009.  ...In the spring we should have been letting our trees really obviously dry out a bit before watering, which creates a strong, well-ramified fine root system. But in high-heat days keep your trees moist. It is not a time to be playing around with letting roots grow out by withholding water—that is only for cooler days.

On very hot days, when the sun is on the horizon in the evening, spray the foliage and pots of your trees in a very light watering that is called hamisu in Japan: leaf watering. This refreshes a tree and cools it down. It is not meant to soak the pot.

From July 26, 2010.  Last summer I mentioned the practice of ‘hamisu’ which is the misting of bonsai during hot summer days. This light topical watering wets the foliage, trunk, pot and first half inch or inch of soil. It refreshes the tree.

If you water the trees in the morning on hot days, they will often need this lighter watering once or twice following that. This is especially true when the temperatures rise above 90 degrees F. Hamisu is most effective when the sun is lowering in the sky.

Be careful watering too late in the day when you have fungus problems. There is juniper tip blight, Phomopsis, to be concerned with, for instance. Any water on the foliage should dry before night sets in during the warm months.

I had already been doing this from time to time, and now I'm doing it more frequently. Herewith, some photographic proof!

"Leaf watering" is especially helpful for the trees on the deck.
And there's no reason a little hamisu can't be applied to the human as well! (Forgive the quality of this picture, please: managing the watering wand and the camera at the same time, with my eyes closed, was not as easy as I expected!)

In spite of my grimace, it really was quite refreshing. (Maybe I should call this "beard watering.")
Stay cool. And keep your trees that way!

:-)  :-)  :-)


  1. It might be easier to set up a sprinkler and run through!

    1. That's what at least one man near Belfast has done, tho I'm not sure he runs thru it! It might work for you, too. Since most of my trees are on the second-story deck, that's not really an option for me.