How to take care of bonsai: an essential guide with tips to follow

Want to learn how to take care of bonsai? Well, know that it is not a simple process and that it takes a lot of care to make the tree grow healthy. Therefore, we separate in our article some important guidelines for those who want to cultivate this type of tree.

Learn to choose a bonsai

There are some species of bonsai and to take care of it, you need to pay attention to the climate of the environment of the region you live in and the domestic environment where it will be cultivated, since they are factors that influence the growth of them. Give preference to the native species of the Western Hemisphere. Check some considerations:

  • Plant species with deciduous leaves such as Chinese or Japanese elms, magnolias, and oaks are excellent choices. Only beware of the maximum size you choose to actually find in your region;
  • Coniferous trees, such as junipers, pines, firs or cedars, are also good options for those who prefer to grow them;
  • Now if the intention is to take care of a bonsai indoors or if you live in a warm climate, the ideal is a tropical species. Some species of olive trees are ideal to be grown as bonsai in this condition.

Decide how to plant the bonsai tree

Choose the ideal plant

Some people prefer to opt in planting a bonsai tree from their seed. It can be a very slow process, but it turns out to be rewarding and rewarding when you see the result.

If that's your idea, you need to have the patience to see it take root and grow strong enough to start pruning it. However, depending on the species, this can take up to 5 years.

For many, this wait is worth it, since the cost with the seeds is low and you can prune the tree at each stage of its growth. However, to plant a bonsai seed some care is needed:

  • Buy a bundle of bonsai tree seeds. Before planting them on soil with good drainage and nutrient composition, leave them in a water bath overnight;
  • Have a quality land to grow this kind of tree;
  • Plant it in a "growth vessel". Avoid the ceramic container, which is usually only used when the tree has reached maturity;
  • Give the seed planted a correct amount of water, sun and constant mild temperature, since it is more a requirement of this plant genus;
  • Let the tree become sturdy and firm before beginning to "train" it.

Look for a bonsai seedlings

Bonsai change

Now the next step is to choose a good bonsai seedling. Look for a seedling very carefully, since taking care of a bonsai that you find in nature will require of you a lot of skill and knowledge. Therefore, when collecting your seedlings, consider the following factors:

  • Choose a tree with a sturdy trunk but still young enough, as the older trees will not fit well in a container;
  • Choose a tree with roots that spread evenly, in all directions, instead of growing laterally or entangled with roots of other trees;
  • Dig around the tree and extract the soil along with the roots, as this will prevent the tree from dying from thermal shock when it is moved into the container;
  • Plant the tree in a "training vessel" and ensure that it is done according to the particular needs of the species you will cultivate;
  • Wait about a year for the tree's roots to become accustomed to the new container before beginning to "train" it.

Buy a seed that has already been pruned

Bonsai pruning

If you want ease when you start in the universe of bonsai art and have no concern for values, buying a seedling that has already been pruned is the best solution.
When you find bonsai that have already been cultivated from small seeds and that is why they have already received training, attention and care, they end up being more expensive than if you choose a seedling that has not yet gone through this process.

To find such seedlings, try searching the internet or at local nurseries and plant stores that are close to you. However, follow some guidelines:

  • Talk to the gardener who took care of the tree about the specific needs of the cultivated species;
  • When you take the bonsai home, take a few weeks to adapt to the new environment before you start working with it.

Bonsai transplant

You need to understand how to do regular transplantation to prevent a bonsai tree from being expelled from the vase and even dying. Remembering that bonsai transplant will not keep you small, but will supply the tree with new nutrients that it needs to develop and bloom.

Find out how often to transplant bonsai

  1. Rapidly growing trees need to be transplanted every two years (sometimes even every year);
  2. Older and more mature trees should be transplanted every 3 to 5 years;
  3. Check the tree each spring, carefully removing the tree from the pot;
  4. A bonsai needs to be transplanted when the roots form a circle around the root system;
  5. When the roots are still contained in the soil, wait another year before checking again.

Understand when bonsai should be transplanted

  • It should be done during early spring, when the tree is still dormant;
  • As the tree can not yet withstand an adult foliage, the process is valid;
  • In addition, it ensures that the damage done to the root system will be repaired as soon as the tree begins to grow.

Make the bonsai soil blend

  1. It should be draining enough to prevent the roots from rotting, while absorbing enough water to supply the tree with water;
  2. Mix Akadama, pumice and lava rock in a ratio of 2: 1: 1;
  3. When you do not have time to water your trees regularly, choose a blend that will absorb the most water (use more Akadama, or even plant soil);
  4. You should choose a more draining mix (use more lava rock) if you are living in a humid climate.

Choose the right pot for the bonsai

  • Choose a vase where your bonsai will fit, noting the size and style.

Transplanting bonsai step by step

  1. Make sure you have the right tools to transplant your tree: a root rake, scissors, wire cutter and a Chinese chopstick;
  2. Often, bonsai are anchored to the pot in which they are planted; in this case, cut the wire;
  3. Remove the tree carefully from its vase, using a root rake;
  4. We can now assess whether transplantation is necessary: ​​in this case, it is, since the roots are circling around the interior of the vessel;
  5. Using a chopstick, we began to remove the old soil, starting at the sides and at the bottom of the tree. Try to avoid damaging the roots in the process. When transplanting pines, leave at least half of the root mass untouched to protect the mycorrhizal fungus, which is essential for the survival of the tree;
  6. With scissors, cut the roots that grew very long. In pruning, do not cut more than 30% of the total of the roots;
  7. In this case, we transplant the tree into the same pot. We prepare the vase by covering the drainage holes with canvas;
  8. The screens are held in place with a piece of wire;
  9. We also put an additional wire, which we will use to stabilize and anchor the tree in the pot later;
  10. Add a thin layer of heavy grains first soil, such as lava rock, sand or akadama, which serves as a drainage layer;
  11. Then add another thin layer of Bonsai soil;
  12. Put the tree in your pot. We used the wires previously placed to hold the tree in position;
  13. Add Bonsai soil around the tree;
  14. Use your Chinese chopstick to work the soil around the roots, making sure to fill all pockets of air throughout the root system;
  15. Finally, we water the tree completely;
  16. This is the look of the tree two weeks after the transplant.

Bonsai fertilization

Vase with bonsai

For your bonsai to survive it is necessary to feed it properly during the growing season. As they are planted in small pots, they need to be fertilized to replenish the nutritional content of the soil.

Know the basic components of fertilizers

  • The fertilizer is composed of 3 elements: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), each element serving different purposes;
  • Nitrogen increases the growth of leaves and stems;
  • Phosphorus stimulates healthy root growth;
  • Potassium stimulates the growth of fruits and flowers.

Understand when to fertilize the bonsai

  • Adube throughout the growing season of the tree that should be from early spring to mid-autumn;
  • Indoor trees can be fertilized throughout the year;
  • Although sometimes contested, do not nurse transplanted trees for about a month;
  • Do not nurse diseased trees.

Learn to choose the correct fertilizer

  • During the early spring season, use a fertilizer with a relatively high nitrogen content (something like NPK 12: 6: 6) to boost tree growth;
  • During the summer, use a more balanced fertilizer (such as NPK 10:10:10);
  • In the fall, use a fertilizer to harden the tree for the coming winter (as NPK 3:10:10);
  • To encourage bonsai to bloom, use a potassium fertilizer (K) (such as NPK 6: 6: 12);
  • For older trees, you can use fertilizer with a slightly lower nitrogen content (N) or reduce the amount of fertilizer applied;
  • You can choose to use liquid or solid fertilizer, which does not matter much, just follow the application guidelines as indicated on the product packaging.

Feed the trees

  • Feed your bonsai using the amounts and frequency as indicated on the packaging of the fertilizer;
  • You can slightly reduce the recommended amount for trees that are no longer in training, to balance their growth, rather than to stimulate it;
  • When using solid fertilizer, it helps to use the fertilizer holders, which ensure that the fertilizer remains in place;
  • Never overeat your trees, as this will have serious consequences for their health.

Fertilizing bonsai step by step

  1. Choose the tree you want to fertilize;
  2. When we use solid organic fertilizer, we prefer Biogold, Aoki and Tamahi. But you can select other brands, of course!
  3. Place the fertilizer in cups / baskets, to make sure it is not carried by water, during watering, or is eaten by birds;
  4. The cups are then placed on the surface of the soil;
  5. In this size of tree and vase, we put three baskets full of Biogold fertilizer;
  6. However, we can also choose to feed the tree with a liquid fertilizer;
  7. This is a Japanese brand of liquid fertilizer, but feel free to choose another brand;
  8. Read the fertilizer instructions to find out how often and how much you should apply Bonsai fertilizer;
  9. The liquid fertilizer is applied during the watering of your tree.

Bonsai watering

Bonsai watering

Watering is the most important part when taking care of a bonsai tree. However, their frequency will depend on factors such as species and size of trees, vessel size, time of year, soil mix and climate. Therefore, it is impossible to determine how often you should water the bonsai.

Find out how often bonsai should be watered

  • Water your trees when the soil is slightly dry;
  • You should not water your tree when the soil is still wet, but only when it feels a little dry;
  • Use your fingers to check the soil about one centimeter deep;
  • Once you get more experienced, you'll be able to see (rather than feel) when a tree needs watering;
  • Never water in a routine;
  • Keep watching your trees individually, rather than watering them in a daily routine, until you know exactly what you are doing.

Use the correct soil mix

  • For most Bonsai trees, a mixture of Akadama, fine gravel and compost mixed for plants in a ratio of ½ to ¼ to ¼ should be excellent;
  • However, use a mixture that retains more water (using more fertilizer for plants) when you can not water your trees so regularly.

Understand when bonsai should be watered

  • No matter what time you water a Bonsai;
  • Just try to avoid watering during the afternoon when the soil has been warmed by the sun and will cool down quickly when using cold water.

Learn how to water bonsai trees

  1. Water when soil is slightly dry. However, when the tree needs water, it needs complete immersion, so that the whole root system is wet;
  2. Keep watering until the water runs out of the drain holes and possibly repeat the process a few minutes later;
  3. Water the tree from above using a thin-tipped sprinkler, as this will prevent soil from being drawn;
  4. The use of water collected from rain is better (since it does not contain added chemicals), but when this is not readily available, there is no problem in using normal tap water.

Now that you already know how to take care of bonsai, how about you start to grow it in your residence? The experience is unique and for many the process even turned into therapy, since it takes a lot of patience, love and care to take care of a bonsai tree.

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