Bonsai Plant Care
Where to Keep Bonsai
Bonsai should be kept in a well-lit area shaded from the direct sun. Some excellent locations include a covered patio or porch which has filtered sunlight, outside under a big, shade tree or in a specially designed nursery shade-house. Bonsai may be brought inside for short periods, three or four days, and then placed outside for an equal period of time.
Even though most bonsai can withstand temperatures down to freezing and colder, we recommend that they be brought inside during severely cold weather and kept in a room near a window without the drying effects of a heater. In northern climates a well-lighted garage or a room in the house that is not heated are acceptable location for the severe winter months as this will force your tree to go into a dormant state.
The same rules apply to the drying heat of the summer. Please keep your bonsai in one of the locations described above to ensure prosperity. Please remember that bonsai is not a house plant and it needs a balanced diet of fresh air, natural light and water to remain healthy.
The easiest way to tell you when to water your bonsai is for you to stick your finger through the moss and pebbles to the soil. If the soil is moist or cool to the touch, then do not water your bonsai. When the soil on top is neutral in terms of moisture, it will be slightly dry to the touch. It is time to water your bonsai. Depending on the amount of light and temperature your tree receives, this may mean watering your tree daily or once a week. Remember, your finger is your best indicator as to the degree of moisture present in the soil.
Watering should always be through the foliage, using a gentle spray such as a garden hose sprayer or the sprayer on your sink. Spray the foliage and all around the top of the container until you see water dripping through the holes of the container. Remember, insects breathe through their skin so water is an excellent way to keep insects and dust off your tree. Insects are seldom attracted to healthy plants!
Use a good bonsai fertilizer designed for Bonsai. Eve’s Garden has designed BONSAI MASTER FERTILIZER for your bonsai. This is a mild 7-8-6 formula with everything you need to make your bonsai thrive. With our special fertilizer you mix it in a gallon container according to the directions of the label and use it with each watering from March to October. DO NOT OVER FERTILIZE! Always follow the directions on the label of the fertilizer you are using!
Pruning & Trimming Bonsai
Pruning and trimming can be performed on your tree throughout the year. In the case of deciduous trees, such as maples and elms, pruning and trimming is best performed throughout the growing season. Juniper, pines, and cypress are finger-nipped throughout the growing season to keep the tree shaped. Trimming the under and inner growth is needed monthly.
Bonsai should be transplanted when the roots are seen growing out the sides of the container.
For most bonsai, this occurs approximately every one to two years here in Florida where we have a nine-month growing season. In northern climates, where you have a four month growing season, repotting should be done every two to three years.
Planting Instructions For Bonsai Seeds
- Open your kit and remove all components.
- Place the brown soil disk in a 1/8 cup of water. After the water has been absorbed, fluff up the growing medium.
- Place a thin layer of pebbles in the bottom of your ceramic bonsai container to allow for good drainage.
- Fill the container with the growing medium leaving about 1/8 inch from the top.
- Scatter all the bonsai seeds on top and sprinkle a small amount of the growing medium to lightly cover them.
- Water until moist and water drips from the hole in the bottom.
- Place in a warm and very sunny location near a window or outside where it gets good sunlight. For best results, place a clear plastic bag over the top of the container to create a greenhouse effect of heat and moisture. Leave bag open on bottom of the seeds to breathe.
- Keep moist at all times by misting daily. Never allow to dry out or sit in water.
- In just a few weeks you should start to see growth in your seeds.
- After about 8 weeks you should have several starter plants. When the starter trees are about 3-4 inches in size, gently pull up all the trees except for one. Keep the one tree in this container to grow and replant the other trees into new containers to make bonsai.
Procedure for Repotting Bonsai
- When spring arrives, pick a day that is overcast if you are repotting outdoors.
- Carefully take the tree out of the container without disrupting the soil around the roots. The soil should be moderately dry. Tree placement in the container is important, so before removing the tree from the container, take a good look at where it is placed.
- Untangle the roots from the soil-root-ball.
- Remove approximately one-third of the soil from around the soil-root-ball. Be careful not to disrupt the soil around the trunk of the tree.
- Carefully trim off the roots that are now exposed due to the soil removal with a pair of sharp scissors, leaving one-inch of the roots still extending beyond the soil-root-ball.
- Using a good grade of potting soil mixture designed for Bonsai, place enough soil in the container so that when the tree is replaced within the container, the top surface of the soil is even with or slightly below the edge of the container.
- Place the tree back into the container and locate it where it was prior to it’s removal.
- Fill the sides of the container with the soil mixture.
- Pack the soil firmly into the container to ensure that there are no air pockets around the roots.
- Water the soil to saturation. Always water after packing the soil, not before.
- Keep the tree in shaded location through the spring and summer.
- Continue to water the bonsai as you did before repotting.
A vitamin mixture called SuperThrive or a stronger dose of Bonsai Master fertilizer is recommended when repotting your tree.