Here’s our all you need to know guide for keeping a happy and healthy bonsai.
Translating from Japanese as ‘planted in a container’, the Bonsai tree is one of the most popular plants on the market today! Originating in China, before spreading eastward to Japan and Korea, the Bonsai tree was the staple plant cared for by Buddhist monks in their temples and homes. Whilst the Chinese art of Bonsai care is now considered something of an ancient tradition, today’s age has seen the bonsai being a staple plant in Japanese households, alongside a steep incline in popularity with American plant owners. Bonsais have also been shown to help in reducing the incidence of throat, dry coughs, colds, and dry skin (Fjeld 2018) as well!
This being getting your Bonsai care and maintenance right is key. Here are six key areas for keeping your Bonsai Tree happy and healthy:
- Watering – this refers to how often you will need to water your plant. Some plants require a good soaking, whilst others do not need much at all.
- Humidity – put simply, humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air, in a given environment. Again, some plants thrive in a hot and humid environment, whilst others are suited to drier conditions.
- Fertilising – this helps to ensure you have the right amount, and type of nutrients in your soil. Using a good quality fertiliser regularly will help your plant to survive.
- Pests and Diseases – from little critters to diseases, these can often harm the livelihood and longevity of your plant. In the article below, we have included all the things you can do to prevent harm to your plant.
- Soil – when talking about soil, there are two parameters that are important here: pH levels and drainability. pH refers to how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Drainability is linked to how much water your soil can retain, or drain.
- Pots and Repotting – plants continually need to grow in order to survive. As your plant’s stems and leaves grow taller, so do its roots. If your plant does not have enough space to grow, then this can have serious consequences on the welfare of your plant. As a result, it’s vital that you regularly check the roots of your plant in order to judge when it’s time to get a bigger pot.
Caring for your Bonsai:
As a general rule of thumb, the key to watering your bonsai is keeping the soil consistently moist. If you underwater your plant, it’s foliage will begin to wilt, turn black, and fall off the tree. Whether you give the plant a good soaking once a week or constantly top up your soil once a day, just make sure your bonsai is well watered. A great way of gauging if your bonsai needs a drink is to place your thumb in the soil. If the top half of your soil is dry, then it’s time to water! You can keep your bonsai, safely hydrated with our watering can.
Bonsais much prefer a humid than dry atmosphere. Be sure to keep your plant away from any radiators and harsh sunlight as this can quickly dry your plant out! If you want to go the extra mile, maybe give your bonsai leaves a quick mist with some water once a week and prune your tree to stimulate and nurture healthy growth.
As Bonsais are often grown in small pots or trays, it would definitely be helpful to invest in some good quality bonsai-specific fertiliser. This will help to make sure that your bonsai is getting the right amount of nutrients. During the growing season (spring and summer) it may be worth having two different types of fertiliser. In spring, be sure to have an NPK ratio of 10-6-6. Having a nitrogen-heavy fertiliser will really help in growing the leaves of your bonsai. Equally, as you get to summertime, it may be worth using an NPK 6-6-6 as this is much more balanced. During the growing season, you should look to use a small amount of fertiliser once a week.
As for soil, Bonsais are able to survive in many types of soil but really thrive with soil that retains water well. As such, it is recommended that a mixture of grit, peat, and loam should be used with your bonsai. Similarly, you can also add Akadama clay to your pot or tray as it has a great ability to release water slowly. On pH, your soil shouldn’t be too acidic or alkaline. Somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 is just right!
Regularly repotting your bonsai should be a vital part of your plant care regimen. As the Bonsai begins to grow, it begins to use nutrients from the soil. If repotting does not take place, then healthy growth will cease and your bonsai may die. In order to stop this, smaller bonsais should be repotted every two years whilst more established trees should be repotted every three to five years. As a general rule of thumb, if you are able to see roots circling around the edges of your soil (near the pot), It’s time to re-pot.
Finally, pests and diseases are rare in bonsais, but you can treat these easily with the regular application of a natural insecticide. At Oxy Plants, we sell neem oil that is specifically formulated to solve such issues. Be sure to check once a week, maybe when you’re watering, for any discolouration or dryness in your Bonsai’s leaves. This will help you diagnose the condition early and treat such problems accordingly.