Tag Archives: Watering

Tips For Watering Bonsai Trees

No plant can survive without water and the need is even greater for bonsai trees. They are grown in shallow containers with little soil and rely on rain and artificial watering for their moisture

Most bonsai trees that die do so from a lack of water or from being in low humidity for too long. They rely on water to grow as the water is absorbed from the compost to the roots and then the nutrients are distributed throughout the tree. If water is not given so that these important processes can ocurr the the tree will die.

There are a number of factors which will determine how much water bonsai trees require:

Some species will require more water than others

Different soils will dry out at different rates

Small pots may dry out more quickly than larger pots and what the pot is made of will also play a part in how quickly it dries out

Plants whose roots a fully grown will absorb more water than younger trees with smaller roots.

What you need to do is take the time to observe and get to know your individual bonsai trees. As you become familiar with them you will learn when they need water by looking at the soil and the color and growth of the leaves. Each tree should be checked regularly and watered when required. Never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Watering is usually required once or twice a day in summer and maybe every three or four days in winter. Even though there may have been some rain, don’t assume that it will have been enough for the tree as it may only have dampened the surface of the soil. Once again, you need to check each plant, testing the soil about an inch below the surface; you can use a water meter to help you or just poke your finger into the soil.

Morning is the best time of day to water the bonsais so they are ready for the heat of the day. Don’t just moisten the soil but give them a thorough soaking so that the whole container is wet and there are no dry spots where the roots could die. In Japan they often water all the trees then go back to the beginning and water them all again to ensure the job is done correctly. Allow the water to drip out of the bottom of the pot and you may need to prop it up slightly so that it all drains away.

Gentle watering is required; if you use an ordinary garden hose you may find the flow of water too stong and the soil will be washed away. Make sure to use a fine mist or a watering can with a fine rose so as not to disturb the soil. As well as watering the soil you can also spray the foliage with water. The leaves can absorb water and the spray will wash any dust or pollutants away.

However, excessive watering can also damage the bonsai tree; the effects of this will not be immediate but can take some time to become apparent. If the roots are continually surrounted by water then they are unable to absorb air which is essential for a healthy tree. The fine root hairs become suffocated by the excess water, they will die and eventually rot. Of course if the tree cannot get air and nutrients from the roots then the leaves and braches will suffer and also eventually die. In the mean time a sick tree is more susceptible to attack by diseases and insects.

Growing bonsai trees is a fascinating hobby and by using well draining, moisture retaining soil and getting to know your plants you should be able to meet the challenges that watering presents.

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Bonsai Tree Care Information – From Watering to Pruning to Soil

The practice of Bonsai began in China and Japan hundreds of years ago, and is simple the miniaturization of naturally occurring plants and trees. Bonsai trees are not “special small” trees, but rather trees that ave been slowly miniaturized from their full size.

The main areas of tree care are the following:

Watering your Tree

Bonsai Trees require more watering than most plants, as they are grown in less soil and the soil itself is free draining (meaning it doesn’t retain the water and lets it pass through). The type of tree, the sunlight it is exposed to all factor in to how much watering should be done. You can tell if your Bonsai Tree needs water by looking at it, feeling the soil and if you prefer; by using a moisture meter to be certain.

Fertilizing your Tree

Bonsai plants are grown in smaller amount of soil compared with other trees and plants, therefore fertilizing and feeding your tree is key. You will want to fertilize once in the Spring and once again in the Fall to ensure maximum health and growth. Your fertilizer should contain chelated iron, nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. Make sure before you fertilize, to water your tree and then apply less than the recommended amount.

Misting your Tree

Bonsai trees and plants in general thrive in a humid environment, something that is somewhat uncommon in most of the world. Some gardeners would recommend misting your plants, to recreate this humid environment. The issue with misting is that it’s only a short term benefit to your plant. We recommend placing a tray below your tree, which you fill with water and allow natural evaporation to do the work to create humidity. Make sure the plant is setup off the tray so the roots are not sitting in the water constantly.

Sunlight for your Tree

Bonsai trees thrive in a sunny location, and only with a few exceptions (repotting, extreme trimming) it should live permanently in a sunny spot. It’s a good idea to leave your plant within a foot of a direct source of ultraviolet light. Southern (east/west okay too) exposure is best, if you plan to grow in a northern exposure location you may need the assistance of grow lights. Do not use Incandescent light as it is much too hot and does not provide a complete spectrum of light. Choose your type of tree wisely as some do better in less light and some require lots of light.

Trimming & Pruning your Tree

One of the main attractions of Bonsai ownership is the possibility to shape and mold your tree to meet your vision and desire. However there are fundamental concerns you need to keep in mind whilst pruning your tree. Balance is very important, and keeping a nice even distribution of branches over the your roots below is key to keeping your tree healthy and complete. You begin shaping your tree when it’s very young, and continue to shape even as your tree ages year after year. Butterfly shears are used to remove leaves and branches as needed. Large branches should only be removed with a concave cutter. Maintaining your trees appearance while minimizing the appearance of pruning is essential.

Protecting your Tree (from disease and pests)

Similar to many other trees and plants, bonsai are vulnerable to attacks by diseases and various pests. If you keep your bonsai in excellent health, you can ward of insects who are attracted to dyeing and weak trees. A healthy amount of light, fresh air and clean soil will ensure your bonsai stays healthy and gives you years of enjoyment. Insecticide soap spray is an option, however you should re-apply on a regular interval to prevent attacks from coming back.

Training your Bonsai

Expanding on the training idea of pruning and trimming, bonsai can be further trained using copper wise or hemp rope. The copper wire is rooted at the base of the tree and than wrapped around the trunk and branches, which allows your to train the branches to grow in your desired direction and shape. The wire should be wrapped closely but not too tight and the bends created should not be too extreme as to damage the branch. Once the wire starts biting into the bark, it should be removed. Removal should be done by snipping the wire at each bend, do not un wrap the wire as it can damage the branches and bark.

Soil for your Tree

When discussing watering above we noted that Bonsai trees use free draining soil, which means that it passes the water through and does not retain like typical potting soil. The makeup of the soil allows the roots of your bonsai to breathe freely. Bonsai soil comes in two main types, conifer and tropical mixtures. When you repot your tree make sure to do so with dry soil.

Repotting your Tree

As your bonsai grows and matures it will need to move containers. However unlike most repotting we do not upgrade our pots to larger sizes. When the bonsai is repotted the roots should be trimmed to fit the previous container size. Average time between repotting is 5 years, however it should be checked annually to verify root ball size. When trimming the root ball, do not remove more than 1/5 of the root material. Finally when repotting keep the bonsai out of the sun/light for at least a week.

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