Yesterday was our monthly bonsai club meeting. The topic was how to grow bonsai for Autumn colors. This was an very interesting topic. I was surprised at how this process works and what to do to get better colors in Autumn.
Before we get into how to get brighter Autumn colors. Let dig into what causes the leaves change colors. I always thought that the leaves change colors cause something else gets introduced to the leaves at Autumn. Man was I wrong… We have all heard of Chlorophyll and Photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is the pigmentation in leaves that is responsible for the green color in the leaves. This green color allows the leaf to absorb sunlight and transports this energy to the tree. During this process Oxygen is also released into the atmosphere.
What causes the leaves to change color? In short the color change is caused by the degrading supply of Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is one of the pigments in the leaf. During the growing season Chlorophyll is the more dominant pigment and that is why the color of the leaf is green. As the chlorophyll supply deceases the other pigments that have been in the leaf all along is now more visible. The decease of Chlorophyll is as a result of the shortening of the amount of sunlight in the day. As the tree senses this the tree starts to prepare for winter. The tree protects it self by stopping the flow of Chlorophyll and other sugars to and from the leaf. As the tree turns of the supply the leaf turns slowly starts changing to a yellowish – orange color which is caused by the Carotenoids in the leaf depending on the xanthophylls(Yellow) or beta-carotene(Orange) the leaf might be more yellow or orange. The other colors present in the leaves are blue and purple this is caused by the Anthocyaninsin the leaves.
How to grow your bonsai for Autumn colors. If you have a strong and health growing bonsai the chances are good that you will get great Autumn colors. So here are a few things you can do in addition to normal routine to ensure nice Autumn colors. As the seasons start changing and the temperatures start to drop and the amount of sunlight decreases you can move you deciduous tree to a place where they can be exposed to more sunlight. You can also start to decrease the amount of water you supply to the trees. As the leaves absorb less sunlight the Photosynthesis process slows down and the tree uses less water. This will also help the tree to close down the Chlorophyll flow faster.
There is a lot more to learn about this topic. This is but a taste of Autumn colors. You can do more research on this topic and try it on your trees.
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