All about bonsai trees - how to care for a bonsai tree

All about bonsai trees - how to care for a bonsai tree

Table of Contents

In this beginner bonsai guide, we will answer the most common questions about bonsai plants’ care – from how to maintain a bonsai indoors to how to avoid overwatering bonsai pots and trays.

So, if you are looking for the ultimate bonsai care guide, read on to know all about bonsai trees and how to look after them.

Are bonsai trees easy to take care of?

Many new and even experienced gardeners or houseplant lovers feel trepidation around bonsai care indoors, considering this shrub to require a lot of attention and maintenance.

However, though these trees are a little more delicate than other houseplants, following some simple bonsai care instructions will ensure your tree lives a long, happy, and flourishing life. In fact, the longer you get to know your plant and its needs, the easier it will be to take care of.

For novice enthusiasts, Juniper bonsai trees are a great choice for your first tree as these are definitely the easiest variety to care for.

Let’s cover some of these basic instructions with this bonsai for beginners’ step-by-step guide.

What’s the best soil for bonsai seeds?

Let’s start with the best soil to use. Soil-mixture is incredibly important for bonsai trees as the soil will help to determine how well-watered the plant is. An ideal soil for seeds is one that has good drainage, a neutral pH (anything between 6.5 and 7.5 is ideal) and the ability to retain water.

For good drainage and to introduce air into the soil, add large particles to your mix in the form of stones or volcanic rocks. For water retention, add gravel or clay. Most soil used for planting these trees consists of akadama, pumice, lava rock, fine gravel, and even some organic potting compost. Mixing these together – according to your particular bonsai variety and maintenance ability – will ensure a healthy and nourishing foundation for your tree.

Take care to notice any bugs in bonsai soil, which can often be a nuisance for your plant. Common pests include spider mites, white flies, aphids, mealybugs, thrips, or fungus gnats. However, there are many ways to treat these – simply research what bug you’re dealing with for solutions.

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How much sun do bonsai trees need?

A bonsai’s light requirements are substantial: this plant relies on sunlight to make its food and thus needs 5-6 hours of direct sunlight a day. This is the same for growing bonsai outdoors.

Lack of proper light will weaken your tree, causing problems like poor foliage. This is why it’s important to ensure you are placing your shrub in a bright window and turning it regularly so all parts of the plant can be exposed to natural light.

In the warmer months, you can put your bonsai outside where many varieties thrive on being exposed to the outdoors. When inside, position your plant away from direct heat or drafts to avoid damage.

How to water a bonsai tree

The most important part of any bonsai care guide is the instructions for watering. Knowing when and how to water your tree is of critical importance as both too little and too much can kill this beautiful shrub.

However, as important as this information is, there unfortunately aren’t hard and fast rules on exactly when to water a bonsai. It completely depends not only on the species and size of the tree you have chosen but also factors like the kind of soil-mix you’re using and the climate the tree is growing in.

Nevertheless, here are some basic guidelines that will help you make sure your tree is adequately hydrated at all times.

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Do not follow a watering schedule

Rather than assigning weekly or daily watering duties, look at each tree individually to decide when it needs to be watered. How do you know when it’s ready?

Water when the soil is slightly dry

You’ll know when your bonsai needs to be watered by the dryness of its soil. You never want to let your soil dry out completely so it’s best to check the soil on a daily basis for moisture retention.

Do this by simply pushing your finger almost half an inch into the soil. If it is slightly dry, then it’s time to water your tree.

The best watering technique is to either use a watering can with a fine nozzle to pour water on the tree from high above to prevent soil erosion or to put your plant in the kitchen sink and water from there. Misting bonsai leaves is also recommended to keep the plant adequately humidified.

Can you overwater a bonsai tree?

Absolutely! Overwatering can be detrimental for your bonsai tree, inducing yellowed leaves and shriveled branches. This is why it’s important to add rocks to your pot to ensure your soil has good drainage.

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How long can bonsai go without water?

This largely depends on the kind of bonsai you have. While some can go several weeks without water (depending on its position indoors) others can go no more than a few days. However, try and retain a regular watering schedule for optimum tree health.

How to replant a bonsai

As well as pruning, repotting is crucial for bonsai tree health. Replanting helps remove superfluous roots that can be starving the tree of critical nutrients and helps to maintain your tree as a thriving indoor shrub. Depending on your particular variant, most shrubs should be repotted once every two to five years. Here’s how:

Carefully remove the tree from its pot and trim away the outer layer of roots. While doing so, examine the root for any rot trim and cut this away as necessary. 

Clean your pot thoroughly before covering its drainage holes with mesh squares (this will stop soil from falling out). Fill the bottom with fresh soil before placing the plant on top. Fill in the remaining gaps with soil and tamp down.

And there you have it! The ultimate beginners guide to bonsai plant care. These trees – so beautiful and therapeutic – are the perfect addition to any room. Get yours from Plants.com for a sophisticated shrub that can help stimulate your creative side!

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