A Bonsai tree is a fascinating gift of nature which offers nature’s majesty in a tiny, beautifully crafted tree.
The term Bonsai refers to “grown in a container”. A bonsai tree is created by considerable trimming to obtain a compact, structural appearance that mirrors its parent shape.
Bonsai trees are known for being exceedingly delicate and require specific care. However, once you understand the basic principles of bonsai care, you will know how to take care of a bonsai plant easily.
1. How to Select a Bonsai Plant?
It is crucial to select the right bonsai while considering your natural environment.
Consider your local climate as sunny winters are good for deciduous bonsai, hot and humid summers are ideal for subtropical trees, and brilliant winter window light is ideal for tropical bonsai.
If you get good sunlight during winter then you should go for a deciduous bonsai variety. If you live in a tropical area with hot and humid summers then picking a tropical bonsai will be ideal.
Deciduous trees thrive under natural weather conditions and during the critical winter dormant period. Your bonsai will benefit from gradual sunlight exposure as the seasons change.
In chilly locations, tropical bonsai requires indoor winter care. Maintain adequate moisture and humidity levels, particularly near indoor heating systems. You can also grow them indoors year-round.
To summarise, select the suitable bonsai for your environment, perform proper care, and watch your living work of natural art flourish.
2. How to Plant a Bonsai Plant?
Firstly, keep in mind the size and shape of the bonsai you would like to have.
A vibrant, robust plant with lots of green foliage or a plant with coloured needles indicates that it is healthy.
If you are a beginner, you can go for a potted bonsai as they are already trained and have gone through initial development. Hence, you can take care of them easily.
If you want to plant a bonsai tree, get a young plant, seedling, or also a cutting of your desired bonsai species.
In a pot with holes, gently place the tree while making sure that the roots are spread out. If there are any empty spaces around the roots, fill them up with bonsai soil mix.
Water it well and keep shaping and pruning the bonsai by getting rid of extra branches and leaves to get the desired shape.
3. How to Take Care of a Bonsai Plant?
Keep the Soil Moist:
Bonsai plants need regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist but don’t make it waterlogged.
Check the Top Soil:
Touch the top layer of soil, and when it feels slightly dry, it’s time to water. A simple trick to check the same is by putting a chopstick in the middle area of the pot by 1 inch.
Check after 10 minutes, if it has turned brown and has dirt sticking to it, then the moisture level is adequate. If not, then watering is required.
Avoid a Fixed Schedule:
Instead of sticking to a strict watering schedule, water your bonsai when it needs it. This mimics natural outdoor conditions.
Pay Attention to Humidity:
Bonsai thrive in a specific microclimate. To increase humidity, place a shallow dish of water nearby or open a window to let in fresh air.
Remember, the key is to keep a watchful eye on your bonsai’s soil moisture and adjust your watering accordingly.
3.2.1. For Indoor Bonsai Plants
Choose an area with bright, indirect sunlight. It should receive at least three or more hours of direct sunlight daily.
When the winter season comes, position it near a sunny window so that it can receive several hours of daylight as daylight time reduces during that season. Avoid drafty windows to prevent cold damage to the foliage.
You can also use artificial lighting if your bonsai isn’t getting sufficient sunlight indoors.
Periodically, take your indoor bonsai outside for some fresh air, light misting of raindrops, or dappled sunlight, this helps rejuvenate the tree.
3.2.2. For Outdoor Bonsai Plants
Select a location with ample sun exposure. Most bonsai trees thrive in bright, indirect sunshine.
However, it is essential to consider shade in hot regions by providing your bonsai with some mid-afternoon shade to prevent it from getting stressed by intense heat.
Protect your outdoor bonsai from severe direct sunlight, which can be damaging. Similarly, shield it from cold winds. Be cautious about placing bonsai near radiators, which often emit direct heat and may harm the tree.
In summary, bonsai trees love sunlight, but the type and amount of light they need vary depending on whether they are kept indoors or outdoors.
Monitoring your bonsai’s response to its light conditions and adjusting it as needed is crucial to ensure its health and vitality.
3.3. Soil and Fertilizer
Bonsai trees thrive in well-draining soil that balances moisture retention and aeration. When choosing the soil mix composition, you need to consider tree species and local climate.
For a good blend of moisture retention and drainage, use a mix of organic matter, lava rocks, and pumice.
Fertilize during the growing season (typically spring to midsummer). Use a gentle, urea-free liquid fertilizer at half strength every six weeks.
Adjust the fertilization regimen based on the type of bonsai tree:
Tropical and Subtropical Bonsai: Fertilize weekly throughout the year. In the fall to spring, feed them monthly.
Deciduous Bonsai: Fertilize weekly during the growing season. If leaves start to fall, stop fertilization as the tree goes dormant.
Conifer Bonsai: Fertilize weekly during the growing season. In winter, reduce feeding to once or twice a month as conifers remain active and continue to use nutrients.
4. How to Shape a Bonsai Plant?
There are three techniques through which you can shape a bonsai tree.
4.1. Leaf Trimming
It involves selectively removing leaves or needles from a bonsai tree’s branches to create an aesthetically pleasing design.
The goal is often to reveal the branches below several clusters of leaves or needles, enhancing the tree’s overall shape.
Particularly in coniferous species, leaves or needles that extend too far below the branches need to be trimmed to maintain the aesthetic.
In bonsai pruning, also trim the top of the trunk for a compact look. Remove or shorten other branches to fit your design.
Use sharp bonsai scissors or shears. Focus on shaping the main trunk and branches, thinning out dense areas. Regularly inspect and trim new growth that disrupts the design.
It involves wrapping aluminum or copper wire around the branches and trunks to create your desired form. The wire holds branches in place until they harden into wood.
Deciduous trees may take 6-9 months for this, while conifers like spruce and pine may take longer.
You can also use wiring to connect branches or secure them to the pot. However, some species may not adapt well to wiring, so pruning is a better option for shaping.
Caring for bonsai is like nurturing a living work of art. It’s about finding the perfect balance of soil, air, water, sunlight, and tender care.
While it does take some time, patience, and a bit of know-how, the journey is incredibly rewarding.
Through this article, we have given you the essentials on how to take care of a bonsai plant.
So, don’t hesitate—dive into the world of bonsai and watch your little tree grow just the way you’ve imagined. It’s a beautiful journey waiting to unfold, and your bonsai is eager to thrive with your love and attention!