Caring For Your Bonsai

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Caring for your bonsai requires a little time, effort and patience. Follow these basic care guidelines and you will find that looking after your bonsai is less complicated than it sounds.

Placement

Most bonsai do best with morning sun and afternoon shade, although some species such as junipers and other conifers can take all day sunshine. Even indoor bonsai trees should be positioned so they get as much morning sun as possible. If your bonsai is placed against a wall you will need to turn it every 2-3 weeks to ensure even growth.

Watering

You can water your bonsai with a plant mister or small watering can, or place the tree in a container of water so that the soil is submerged. Leave the pot in the water for about 5 minutes and then remove and let it drain. Different varieties need more or less water, but a good rule of thumb is that the soil should always be moist and never completely dry. Bonsai need more water during the spring and summer months. During hot periods you may need to water daily. Be careful not to overwater (especially in winter) as this can cause root rot.

Fertilising

To keep your bonsai healthy and flourishing you need to fertilise it during its growth season usually every 2-3 weeks or so during the early spring, summer and early autumn.  You can use almost any liquid plant fertilizer at half the recommended strength as too much fertiliser can burn the root system. Cease fertilising in late autumn and winter.

Trimming and Pruning

 

Regular trimming and pruning of roots, branches, and leaves is essential to maintain the balance and shape of your bonsai. Branches need to be cut back several times a year, especially if they become crossed or grow in the wrong direction. At the same time, roots should be trimmed. If you trim branches only and not the roots, or vice versa, your tree will appear unbalanced.

Repotting

All bonsai need to be repotted at some point. The faster the tree grows, the sooner it will need repotting. If your bonsai has an extremely aggressive root structure, and you see roots start to girdle, you need to repot the tree. The media you use to repot your bonsai is important; don’t use regular potting mix, ask us for bonsai mix. When repotting, use a container that is right for the size and style for your bonsai.

Using a root knife or similar instrument, take the tree out of its pot and trim back long roots if necessary. Place the bonsai gently on top of the prepared soil in the center of the pot.  Once the plant is placed, fill the pot with mix being sure not to leave air holes and water thoroughly.  Don’t over-prune branches immediately following repotting, and if your bonsai is outdoors, protect it from harsh wind, sun, and rain.