Bonsai Tree Care: Creating the Perfect Plant

5 min read

Bonsai trees are basically a miniature version of a large tree. They are grown in decorative pots and make for excellent houseplants. Originally, bonsai trees were an ancient Japanese art form. Some common types of bonsai trees are familiar to many people. One of the most common is the Jade plant. Ficus plants are also readily available and are an excellent choice for beginners. They are quite forgiving, which allows for some growing pains when learning to care for a bonsai tree.

It is quite challenging to keep a plant miniature. It is in their nature to try and grow to their full maturity. Improperly cared for, a bonsai either dies or grows out of control. If you are starting on your bonsai journey, doing some basic research may help to keep your plant alive.

In this post we are going to discuss:

* Bonsai culture

* Watering

* Placement of Bonsai and more!

Bonsai Culture

Bonsai care varies for each type of plant. Certain plants require more sunlight or less humidity than others. For optimal growth, get to know your particular plant and what your plant needs. However, there are some basic guidelines to follow. Understanding indoor bonsai culture (watering, placement, humidity, etc.) can help prepare a beginner to know what kind of information to look for.

Watering

Like all plants, watering is highly essential. When taking care of indoor plants, proper watering is even more imperative. Plants that live in a pot are entirely dependent on their caretaker to regulate the water supply. Overwatering and underwatering are both detrimental to a plant.

When watering a bonsai, always pour water into the soil, not on the leaves. The goal is to supply the root system with adequate water. It is crucial not to let the soil dry out completely between waterings. This likely takes time for you to learn how often the plant needs it. In warmer, sunnier locations, the bonsai is going to require water more frequently. The best way to test water content in the soil is with a moisture meter. The moisture meter can read exactly how much moisture is in the soil, telling you whether or not it needs water. If you are a beginner, it is not imperative to purchase this device. Another way to check moisture level is by sticking your finger in the soil. This tells you if the soil is still moist or if it is drying out. As a beginner, observe your plant and check regularly. This is the only way to learn what your bonsai requires.

Your bonsai pot should have drainage holes in the bottom. Apply water thoroughly until the moisture drips through the holes in the bottom. This should provide the plant with adequate water. The method of watering is also important. Water should be applied lightly and in a shower fashion. If water is applied with too much force, the soil may get disturbed and spill over the edges of the pot. Not only does this make a mess, but it requires more soil to be added to the pot.

Placement of Bonsai

In warmer temperatures and climates, bonsai plants can be kept outside. Put it in a spot on the balcony, a patio, or in the garden where it can receive morning sun but afternoon shade. Because the plant lives inside for part of the year, it is essential not to place it in too much sun. The shock of living in full afternoon sun may kill the plant. Or, it could live all summer in full sun, but then it can die when it is brought back indoors for the winter. Your goal is to regulate the sun and heat the plant receives.

When cool temperatures hit, or if you live in an area with winter weather, your bonsai needs to be brought inside during this time of year. A good time to bring it inside is when the weather hits between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4-10 degrees Celsius). It is best to place your bonsai on a window sill facing south. If you do not face southern exposure, it may be a good idea to put your bonsai under a grow light. A grow light may also be a good idea if you live very far north where winters are extremely cold.

Humidity

Humidity, or moisture content in the air, is another crucial variable in bonsai culture. In colder months, there tends to be less humidity in the air. The problem here is that bonsai-like humidity. To help provide this environment, try putting your pot on a shallow tray. Fill the dish with decorative pebbles and then top the tray up with water. The water in the tray slowly evaporates and acts as a humidity source for your bonsai plant.

Pinching

Pinching is the way to keep your tree to a miniature size. Ignoring pinching results in the plant growing too big and well beyond the size of a typical bonsai plant. New growth should be pinched (trimmed) back but never removed entirely. The plant still needs a little bit of new growth in order to remain healthy. During warm months, the plant is in full growth, so it requires more pinching. In winter months, maintenance here is a little less frequent. Each type of bonsai tree grows at its rate. Observe your plants and adjust your pinching frequency to match its growth.

Fertilizing

Most people associate fertilizing with improved growth. While this is true, fertilizing is also done to keep a plant healthy and green. Bonsai plants grow in a minimal amount of soil. Because of this, there are limited nutrients available. Fertilizer should, therefore, be added in small doses. Most all-purpose fertilizers work just fine. However, do not apply at full strength. Dilute it to half their instructed potency. It is recommended that your bonsai require fertilizer once a month during its peak growing season. In the dormant season, do not fertilize the plant, it does not need it.