How To Take Care Of Bonsai Trees
Bonsai trees are wonderful marvels of patience and care combined with the awesome beauty of nature. They do take more time and effort than your ordinary house plant though. The most important facets of caring for your bonsai tree are watering, pruning, and repotting. This article will help you understand the basics of how to properly work with your new tree.
Water, water, water. Neither too much nor too little. Bonsai tree soil is supposed to allow the water to drain from your pot fast, to avoid root rot, but let it get too dry and it will soon die. You should be able to feel a little moisture in the soil within an inch or so of the surface. If not, water it, mist it and then water it again. Some people like to maintain moisture on the tree by spray misting it multiple times a day. An easier method is to put the pot, supported by a few stones, in a plastic tray and then fill the tray with water to just below the bottom of the pot. Evaporation will keep the air moist between waterings. Once you have the tree's survival assured we turn to its appearance.
The beauty of bonsai comes from shaping the tree itself. You generally want clusters of dense foliage in an interesting shape while maintaining the miniaturization. Above the soil, trim off shoots which point down or back towards the trunk or which are headed for crossing each other. Pinching off the shoots at the end of the branches you want to keep makes them fuller. The direction of growth can be controlled with wire wrappings, however that topic is more than this article can cover.
Half the tree is below the soil and the roots need to be trimmed regularly to stay close to the size of the tree above ground. Take care that less than a third of your bonsai tree, whether above or below ground, is done at any one time and make sure the tree has plenty of time to recover from any one operation before starting the next. The root trimming should be done annually and you can check to see if it needs re-potting at that time.
Ever two to three years your bonsai tree will need to be moved to a new pot. If the roots have become a ball the size of their current pot, it's time to move it to a new one. Slowly and gently remove most of the soil from around the roots and pull them out with a toothpick or chopstick. Trim no more than 25% of them off and very carefully move it to the new pot. Run a heavy wire up through the drain holes to help hold the tree upright in its new pot until it can take good root. Put an inch or so of soil in the pot and then put the tree in and carefully sift the new soil in and between the roots. Use the wire to anchor the roots and to give it more support. Once again, make sure the tree has plenty of time to recover before doing anything else to it.
Take care that when you pick out your bonsai tree that you get information that is species specific. A Ficus bonsai is a little different from a Japanese Maple bonsai. Ask your nursery how much light your tree needs, when is the best time of year to fertilize and prune and what would the best soil mixture be. Take care of your bonsai tree and it can live and be appreciated for generations.