The most important aspect of healthy bonsai is correct watering. The soil should be checked daily. All bonsai, regardless of the in ground situations in which they normally grow, always need moist soil when they are in a pot. The easiest way is to immerse the entire pot in water above the soil level. When the air bubbles stop, the soil is completely saturated. A little water is never enough. The soil must fluctuate between saturation and just slightly damp. Never bone dry! Water when the surface appears dry but there is just slight hint of moisture about a centimetre under the surface. Scratch down into the soil to check this. Your tree needs to drain freely after watering so do not leave it standing in water.
Failure to water when necessary is the quickest, surest method to kill your tree. If the soil becomes bone dry and allowed to remain in that state for even a short period, it may be impossible to revive the plant.
Regular fertilising is necessary for the health and vigor of the plant. Use a slow release fertiliser and an organic fertiliser during the growing season, applied according to its instructions.
Wire is sometimes used to improve the shape of a bonsai and remains on the trunk or branches until the shape is set. As the branches thicken and the wire becomes tight, carefully unwind or cut each spiral for easy removal. Take care not to damage the bark.
Contrary to popular belief, it is trimming of the foliage, not the root prunning, that keeps the bonsai small. It is also maintains the shape of the tree. The tree species indicates the frequency of trimming. Shorten new growth if you wish to maintain the original size and shape.
Allowing your bonsai to become large will necessitate a larger container. Root pruning allows your bonsai to remain vigorous. Trees that are allowed to become root bound eventually become weakened. It is necessary to root prune your bonsai about every 2 – 3 years, depending on the species. Root pruning is done while tree is dormant, just before the growing season.
Most species are better re potted in Sydney from late July to early August, but definitely before the new growth appears. The more tropical plants such as the Fig and Bougainvillea species are safer pruned during summer.
Most nurseries offer re potting as well as boarding services.
“Bonsai Care” Information courtesy of Bonsai Style ph: 02 9871 4162
Bonsai Style offers workshops, clinics, re-potting and styling.