Things you need to know about your bonsai tree

So the title got you attention so now your expecting a revelation. Well that’s not what this blog will be . I have been doing or should I saying practicing the art of bonsai for about thirteen years now. I must say the first five or so year was disappointing.

Lets start with the basics. All trees in containers aren’t bonsai. There are a few things that differentiates bonsai from pot plants. A bonsai is a piece of art and thought has been put into every aspect of the composition in front of you, from the pot, style of the tree, the placement in the pot as well as the relationship between the pot and the tree. I will try to cover some of these topics in my blogs to come.

For today let’s focus on the basic of taking care of a tree and why we do what we do. I must just say that there are many more qualified people out there that can perhaps inform you more, but I would like to help those people that find themselves having a bonsai tree not knowing where to go or how to care for the tree or trees. Firstly if you buy a tree and it in a container. Where do you place it? I have heard many opinions on this, for me the most important aspect would be to look at the place where you bought the tree. If it was indoors or outdoors, in a shaded area or open air. How does this effect the tree you may ask. Well if it was indoor in the middle of a shop and you place it indoors in a window shelf that gets afternoon sun you may as well buy it an throw it in the fire. Cause you will burn the tree’s leaves. The best thing to do will be to place it in a similar environment or a shaded area. After a few days (about a week) you can start moving it to a slightly more sunny area. You can do this until you have the perfect spot for the tree. Now if you see the leaves weeping turning brown take it into a more shaded area.

The second thing I would like to discuss is the watering of the tree. This is something that can be influenced by many things(temperature, wind, humidity and very important soil mix). Watering can take place twice a day, daily, every second day and weekly. This is also dependent on the season. So now that you know that this may vary a lot. How do you know when to water the tree? Well there are a few ways. Check the moisture level with you finger. Push it into the container till you feel the soil if it is still cool and damp you could skip watering. If it dry you should water it. Now you can use many different ways to test this but this is the quickest and easiest. Next question that comes to mind so how do I know if I have watered the tree enough. Well bonsai containers have a nice big hole at the bottom. If you see the water running out from the bottom there is enough water in the container.

Thirdly I want to share my view on soil. There are hundreds of different soil mixtures out there. All of them have these three things in common: potting soil, stone and compost. True this is over simplifying it. As most of you have heard of akedama, volcanic stone, river sand , pumice and many more terms like those. I believe that you use what you can get in your area. I found that a tree will live in a wet soil mix for a long time before it will die, but on the other end a tree will die very quickly in dry soil mix. If this is true why bother with the correct soil mixture for a specific tree?  Our aim is to grow a healthy and good looking trees. If the soil mix is wrong the signs will be visible on the tree. So a good draining soil mix, that keeps enough water to get the tree through till the next watering is a wise choice. What is needed to achieve this: well decomposed compost(I use master organic’s potting soil sieved to separate large pieces and also remove small parts less that 3mm), small stones 3mm – 5mm depending on the pot size, river sand,some slow release fertilizer (I use multicore) and bone meal. My mixture is 6 parts compost/potting soil, 3 part stone, 1 part river sand, 0,1 part bone meal and 5ml of multi core per 4kg soil.

In my next blog  I will cover potting/ re-potting and placement after re-potting. I will try and keep blogs relative to the season that we are in to help you plan ahead.


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