How To Care Your Bonsai To Make It Live For Hundreds of Years



CARE How To Care Your Bonsai To Make It Live For Hundreds of Years When it comes to the Japanese art and science of Bonsai, it uses masterful and careful pruning, training, and care techniques, creating a miniature version of a wild tree, yet naturally realistic and beautiful plant. As contrary to the most popular belief, a bonsai tree is not a specific species of a dwarf tree. The fact is any tree species can be cultivated, trained, and grown to become a beautiful bonsai. In Japan, the Sandai-Shogun-no-Matsu in the famous Tokyo Palace refers to a white pine type of bonsai tree, which is believed to be more than 500 years old. It is considered the oldest known and existing specimen of bonsai worldwide. It takes a great amount of discipline and skill to attain the ideal form and shape of a bonsai tree. It is not enough to simply plant a tree in a small bonsai pot, water, fertilize, and occasionally prune because caring for a bonsai tree needs your time, patience, and utilization of resources regardless if it is indoor or outdoor bonsai growing. Whenever people hear the word “bonsai”, they’ll start to think about growing a small tree in a small pot. Bonsai trees are always connected with Asian culture. However, those who are aware and knowledgeable about the art and science of bonsai trees know that it’s more than just “small trees in small pots”. It is something that requires a great deal of time, care, and dedication. Let’s start the tutorial now! Basic Guidelines When Caring and Growing Bonsai a) Soil and Orchid Mix One of the most common conditions that are completely within the control of a bonsai gardener is the soil type in which the bonsai tree is planted. The type of soil can also be an issue among bonsai gardeners. Pre-mixed soils are considered the best, but are generally expensive and anyone with numerous smaller ones or a large tree could be apprehensive, most especially for a new bonsai tree. b) Watering Bonsai Trees There are important factors to consider when watering bonsai trees such as the climate, bonsai tree species, and bonsai tree size. You need to monitor the amount of water that your bonsai tree is receiving. Your bonsai tree soil should stay moist but not oversaturated because it can cause root rot and decay. c) Bonsai Tree Feeding and Fertilizers Bonsai trees are placed in small pots, so they need to be regularly fertilized to ensure that they are not deprived of all the essential nutrients they need to survive. The three macronutrients that bonsai trees need include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen enhances the growth of the leaves and stems, phosphorous boosts the healthy growth of the roots, and potassium increases the growth of flowers and fruits of specific bonsai tree species. d) Bonsai Tree Repotting It is important to regularly repot your bonsai tree to ensure it doesn’t starve and get root bound or pot bound. By repotting your bonsai tree, you can guarantee that your bonsai will continue to grow and flourish. Your decision to repot a bonsai tree usually depends on the pot size used and the bonsai tree species. More mature bonsai trees are usually repotted every three to five years whereas fast-growing bonsai trees need to be repotted once every two years. e) Bonsai Tree Positioning and Location It’s very important to look for the specific information about the proper placement and position of the bonsai tree because every bonsai tree is different. For your outdoor bonsai trees, you can position them in an area that gets plenty of sun for most parts of the day, but they should still need to get an ample amount of shade. Indoor-kept bonsai trees should be put in a bright spot in the home. There are indoor bonsai trees requiring direct sunlight while others require some shade. f) Bonsai Tree Containers and Pots By choosing the right pot or container for your bonsai tree is considered as one of the initial and most important steps when it comes to setting up a bonsai. Selecting the right container or pot needs keeping important concerns in mind. Planting a bonsai tree in the smallest pot size possible is crucial when selecting a pot. It should be large enough to hold the bonsai tree and allow its roots to healthy and steadily growing, but small enough for confining and controlling its growth so it’s limited to that pot for a longer period of time. g) Bonsai Tree Pests and Diseases Bonsai trees, like any other trees and plants, are also susceptible to most common pests and diseases. Because most bonsai trees grow in an outdoor garden some species, like quince, are more susceptible to weak roots and are prone to damage. The pathogens or harmful microbes can enter through these damaged areas that can kill your entire bonsai tree. h) Bonsai Tree Care Tools and Supplies You need to invest in some basic tools and materials to maintain and properly care your bonsai tree, crafting it to a beautiful art piece. These materials may include pots, fertilizers, humidity tray, and moisture meter, a device used in measuring the amount of water in the soil. Growing Bonsai Trees Indoors Indoor bonsai trees are sensitive and very delicate. They need attention and special care. Growing and caring for bonsai trees can be a daunting task. Bonsai growers should be knowledgeable about the basic concepts of bonsai care to avoid a mess on their bonsai project. Growing Bonsai Trees Outdoors Caring for bonsai trees outdoors is not difficult but it’s essential to keep your bonsai tree happy and healthy for the coming years. Bonsai trees have a dormant season during winter months. They need cold or cooler temperatures during the dormancy period. It means that you can’t take your bonsai tree inside your home when the weather starts to cool off because it needs the dormancy period for healthy growth and development. Conclusion These are just basic guideline when it comes to caring for your bonsai tree. In the next upcoming sessions, you’ll get a deeper sense of perspective about every essential aspect of bonsai care. 2) Bonsai Soil and Orchid Mix The use of the correct soil mixture is crucial for the proper growth and development of your bonsai trees. The soil is essential in supplying the bonsai trees with the essential nutrients they need. The soil needs proper drainage, enough aeration and water retention. Bonsai shops are selling ready-mixed soils, but you can also create yours to save money and enable you to adjust mixtures per species of a bonsai tree. The quality of bonsai soil that you use for your bonsai tree directly affects its vigour and health. Unhealthy bonsai trees lack vigour and are usually planted in organic or poor bonsai soil. Some are planted in normal plant garden soil that easily hardens whenever it gets dry. This is very harmful to the bonsai tree. Qualities Required in a Good Bonsai Soil Mix a) Good Water Retention The bonsai soil you use needs to hold enough quantities of water so your bonsai tree will be supplied with the needed moisture in between watering. b) Good Drainage Any excess water should drain immediately and easily from the bonsai pot. A soil that lacks good drainage is highly water retentive, lacks aeration and is liable to salt build-up. When there is too much water retention, it will cause the bonsai roots to rot, thus killing the bonsai tree. c) Good Aeration It is important that the particles used in a given bonsai soil mix should be of enough size for allowing air pockets or tiny gaps between each particle. Aside from oxygen required for healthier roots, it’s also important to have good bacteria and intact mycorrhizae, for the proper processing of food prior to root absorption and sending water and nutrients to the leaves for the production of energy or what is called as photosynthesis. A particle-based and well-structured inorganic soil promotes faster drainage of water, allowing fresh air to enter the bonsai soil continuously. A compacted organic bonsai soil lacks structure, aeration, and proper drainage, leading to the root rot and ill health. Organic or Inorganic Soils When it comes to bonsai soil mixes, they are described as either organic soil or inorganic soil. Dead plant matters like bark, leaf-litter, or peat are considered as organic soil components. Organic soil components break down over time, reducing water drainage. Most bonsai potting composts, absorb water poorly if dried completely. This is considered as one of the major problems of cheap bonsai trees bought at garden centres. A bonsai gardener thinks that his bonsai tree is properly watered but the water actually runs past the soil towards the bottom of the bonsai pot. When it comes to the inorganic bonsai soil components, they contain minimal to no organic matter like volcanic lava, baked calcite, or fired clays. They tend to absorb less water and nutrients as compared to organic soils, but they are great for aeration and drainage. Bonsai Soil Components Bonsai soil mixtures have important components including akadama, lava rock, pumice, fine gravel, and organic bonsai potting compost. a) Akadama It is a hard-baked Japanese clay that is specifically produced for bonsai purposes and it is available in bonsai shops. Akadama needs to be sifted before it is used. Just bear in mind that after two years, akadama will start to break down, thus, reducing aeration to some extent. It will require regular repotting or it should be mixed with soil components that have good draining quality. Akadama is expensive so other bonsai growers replace it with similar baked or fired clays which can be purchased at garden centres. You can also replace akadama with cat-litter. b) Pumice It is a soft volcanic product, absorbing nutrients and water quite well. When pumice is used in a bonsai soil mix, the water is retained. It also helps the roots to properly ramify. c) Lava Rock It retains water. It adds a good structure when it is part of a bonsai substrate. But remember that bonsai roots cannot grow into Lava rock. d) Organic Potting Compost It includes peat moss, sand, and perlite. However, there are drawbacks like high water retention and poor aeration. But if it is used as a part of a mixture, organic potting compost can be used perfectly. e) Fine Gravel or Grit It helps in creating a well-draining and properly aerated bonsai soil. It is used in the bottom layer of bonsai pots, enhancing water drainage a bit further. Most bonsai growers don’t use grit anymore because they stick to a mix of Pumice, Akadama, and Lava rock. Recommended Soil Mixtures for Bonsai Different bonsai tree species require different soil mixtures. That is why it is important to make sure to check and find the optimum mixture for your specific tree. We have described here the two main soil mixtures for deciduous trees and coniferous trees. Both bonsai mixtures consist of pumice which is good for the substrate’s structure; akadama, which is the component for water retention; and lava rock for drainage and aeration. Deciduous Bonsai Tree Soil Mixture

  • 25% Pumice

  • 50% Akadama

  • 25% Lava rock

Coniferous and Pine Bonsai Tree Soil Mixture

  • 33% Pumice

  • 33% Akadama