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Cedars are relatively free of pests. The only ones I have ever encountered are scale and leaf miner, both controlled by spraying with a svstemic insecticide. A cedar suffering from a leaf miner infestation is not a pretty sight (figures 9, 10, and 11), and ever since ilmost my whole collection of cedars was attacked by these insects in 1994, I give them two precautionary applications of a systemic insecticide-one in early May and another about two or three weeks later.
Figure 9: Leaf miner damage
Figure 10: Severe leaf miner infestation Figure 11: Another severe leaf miner infestation
I spent much of the spring of 1995 plucking all the dead foliage off the trees, but I am happy to report that they all survived.
As you would expect from a tree that is native to this region of the American continent, cedars are very winter hardy. If you have marveled at the pictures of growers in some parts of Japan leaving bonsai on their benches all year round, marvel no more, because that is what I have been doing with some of my cedars. Why not all? Well, better safe than sorry, so while it is true that I have left cedars sitting on the bench all winter long, I do use some judgment, mainly relating to the size of the root ball. But putting the trees on the ground in a shady spot is quite adequate to ensure their survival in the Toronto area.
Cedar foliage, like that of some junipers, changes colour in winter, becoming grayish-green with maroon undertones. This can be startling to those not familiar with the tree's habits, but checking the underside of the foliage should still reveal a healthy light green shade and signal that all is well. The winter colour disappears within a few days in spring.
Cedars are very particular when it comes to wiring the young fronds. There is no problem wiring branches, other than that old ones are very stiff and somewhat brittle, but because they dislike having foliage wired into a different position, I do this type of shaping exclusively by pruning and regrowing.
As I hope the accompanying pictures show, eastern white cedars make good bonsai. Because of their foliage and trunk characteristics, they are best suited for larger trees- good specimens smaller than 12-15" are difficult to find and even more difficult to make into convincing bonsai. If you live in an area where cedars are native, it is well worth looking for spots where they are naturally dwarfed-usually associated with poor soils-and get permission to dig up a few. When you do, keep them in the shade for about a month afterwards and spray the foliage frequently (four or five times a day, if you can) with water through a fogging nozzle. In the second year, start fertilizing heavily and do some initial pruning as required.
Bonsai: The Journal of the American Bonsai Society/Spring 2000