While growing and training bonsai
does take some knowledge, skill, and patience, too often people shy away from
even trying their hand at this art form, believing that caring for bonsai is
much too difficult. In truth, once you understand the fundamentals for care and
training, you will be surprised at how much easier it is than initially thought.
As more and more people discover what bonsai really, entails, we see the
popularity increasing. If you are just getting started, or perhaps a friend gave
you a bonsai as a gift and you find yourself completely clueless, the first
thing you need to do is determine if your plant is a tropical or subtropical
species. This will help you determine if the plant is an indoor plant or one
that should be grown outdoors, typically, the hardier option.
The reason this is important when learning about caring for bonsai is
that the two are cared for differently. As an example, an indoor plant will do
better if grown as a standard houseplant with an occasional trip outdoors for
some fresh air and sunlight. On the other hand, an outdoor plant will grow best
in natural conditions, being brought indoors only for brief periods of display.
Once you know the type of plant you are working with, you can learn more about
the details of caring for the bonsai.
First, whether the plant is indoors or outdoors, you need to make sure it gets
adequate lighting. In most cases, an outdoor plant is going to require a good
deal of natural light. For instance, most will do very well with full morning
sun and afternoon shade although junipers and pines are able to withstand full
sun all day. For your indoor bonsai plant, they too need adequate lighting with
most preferring southern or eastern exposure. Next on the list of caring for
bonsai is the watering, just as important as the lighting. Remember, bonsai are
small plants or trees so they tend to dry out quickly. For this, you want to
water the bonsai daily during the spring, summer, and fall months. In addition,
during the summer when you have extra hot days, you may need to water once in
the morning and then again in the afternoon.
The best option when watering is to use a good mister that will not wash the
soil out of the container while still giving the plant enough water. However, if
you do find that water runs out of the bottom of the container or out from the
top, one of two things has happened. First, you have over watered and second,
the bonsaiís soil may have been too dry, causing it to pull away from the
container. In this case, you would need to soak the pot to help rehydrate the
soil. Just remember when caring for bonsai that moist soil is best so if you can
maintain the soil so it is not too wet or dry, you will have a happier and
healthier plant or tree.
Finally, caring for bonsai means fertilizing, trimming, and pruning. Even
though bonsai are small, they still need a good fertilizer but only when needed.
The purpose of fertilizer is to help the plant produce new leaves while keeping
the roots healthy and strong. When the bonsai is growing, use a 20-20-20, water
soluble fertilizer, preferably one that is time-released and liquid. Then,
regular trimming and pruning is required to keep the bonsai small, which is the
whole concept of this style of tree or plant in the first place. For this, any
vigorous new growth seen in the springtime would need to be removed,
periodically through the growing season as well. However, make sure you keep
just enough leaves the plantís vigor is maintained. You can purchase any number
of books on the various styles of bonsai. Keep in mind that certain styles work
best with certain tree or plant species so choose wisely. However, the trimming
and pruning is considered an art form, training the bonsai to grow into the
desired shape. As far as caring for bonsai, these are the basics. While there
are a few other things, you can see the process is not difficult but actually
enjoyable and very, self-gratifying.