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How do I water my Bonsai?
This depends on whether the bonsai is kept indoors or outdoors.
The main rule of thumb is to make sure the soil is always moist. General guidelines:
Indoor bonsai are watered from the bottom. The recommended solution is to keep a watering tray. Place the bonsai in the center of the tray, and add water to the tray until full. The tree will consume water at its own rate. Just refill the tray when the water no longer reaches the roots of the bonsai. Without a tray, you can fill a sink with water and allow the bottom of the bonsai to soak for 30 minutes once to twice a week depending on the dryness of the soil.
Outdoor bonsai during the winter can be watered once a week, or even less during cold winters. During the spring/fall, they can be watered every other day. During the summer, water at least once a day.
How do I fertilize my Bonsai?
Fertilizer affects the soil that provides nutrients to the bonsai. Fertilizers will improve the longevity of bonsai and allow them to bloom more vibrantly. There are two types of fertilizer: liquid and pellets (aka time release). Look for a fertilizer specifically made for bonsai.
What type of fertilizer you use depends again on if you keep the bonsai indoors or outdoors.
Indoor bonsai ONLY use
liquid fertilizer, which is generally added right to the watering tray. Each fertilizer comes different, so the amount to use will depend on the manufacturer's directions. Bonsai should be fertilized once a month, year-round.
pellet/time-release fertilizer is much more reliable. Liquid can be used as well, but it is not recommended as they may get over-diluted by rain. Do
NOT fertilize during the winter because the tree will be dormant. For all other seasons, fertilize once a month. Once again, how much fertilizer to use depends on manufacturer instructions.
How do I repot my Bonsai?
Repotting is necessary because the tree roots are growing and will eventually overcrowd the pot. This is not optimal for the health of the bonsai.
Indoor bonsai should be repotted every 3-5 years. You can tell when a lot of roots begin to grow out of the bottom of the pot. They generally be repotted during any season, but it is recommended to repot during the spring/fall because the roots are less susceptible to damage. Whether you should get a larger pot depends on if the trunk has grown significantly. If the trunk has not grown much, the same pot size can be used. Otherwise, get a pot about 1 inch larger than the old one. Trim off unhealthy/rotting roots, and place the tree into the new pot. Add soil to fill up the pot proportionately.
Outdoor bonsai should be repotted about every 2 years. They MUST be repotted in the spring/fall. If the trunk has not grown much, the same pot size can be used. Otherwise, get a pot about 1 inch larger than the old one. Trim about 1/3 of the roots, because the roots will grow very fast. Place the tree into the new pot. Add soil to fill up the pot proportionately.
The same pot may be reused, provided that it is in good condition.
Where should I keep my Bonsai?
Firstly, this depends on whether you have an indoor or outdoor bonsai.
Tropical/sub-tropical bonsai MUST be kept
indoors if it is
below 50 degrees F outside. They may be kept outside in the warmer seasons, depending on the temperature. Make sure they are kept in the
shade or in
Do not keep them fully exposed to direct sunlight, as this will dry out their root system. If you live in a warmer climate year-round, they may be kept outside permanently.
Desiduous/evergreen bonsai MUST be kept
outdoors year-round. Generally indoor living is too hot and too dry for these trees. When kept outdoors, they are very resilient and can mostly be placed anywhere. If it is exceptionally cold, you may consider sheltering them in a garage/shed temporarily.
What types of Bonsai are there?
There are over 300 types of bonsai trees. On a technical level, no two bonsai have the same exact requirements. However, there are four main categories based on their original climate: tropical, sub-tropical, desiduous, and evergreen.
These four categories must be cared for differently, with the exception of tropical and sub-tropical which can generally be kept under the same conditions.
How do I trim/maintain my Bonsai?
If you are looking to maintain the original shape, you should always take pictures of the original shape of the tree from when you first purchased it or after the previous trim. Using the images as references, clip the stems of the bonsai to maintain the original shape. The best equipment to use are bonsai pruning shears.
Indoor bonsai can be trimmed any time of year. Usually, once per season to maintain appearance.
Outdoor bonsai should ONLY be trimmed during the spring and/or fall.