To grow the best Bonsai is much easier than you think and very rewarding. The art of Bonsai originated in China over two thousand years ago and only moved across to Japan around 900 years or so where it was introduced by the Buddhist monks who wanted something from outdoors inside. The word Bonsai means “in a container” and the idea is to grow a tree to represent the mature form of the plant in nature, planted in a small tray or bowl.
There are many articles online and books available on how to grow bonsai but if like many you have just received your first bonsai as a gift or treat we thought we would look at a simple how to guide with our easy tips to ensure easy success.
There are many different varieties of bonsai available. Some will grow better outside and others don’t mind being either in or outside.
Where to put it:
Make sure your bonsai gets a lot of light. Low light or too dark shade will result in plants growing thin and leggy and it will be harder to shape. Afternoon sun heats up the roots too much and your plant could die so there are a few points to consider.
Outdoors we recommend that your tree gets morning sun and afternoon shade. From around 11h00 they must be in shade to cool the roots down which are at risk in a small pot.
If you have your tree indoors keep it in the brightest spot possible. If you plan to grow it on a windowsill make sure it does not get sun through the glass – try a south facing window.
- One of the most important factors in your success is watering. Too little or too much water will definitely kill your tree. The amount and frequency of water given to a bonsai are determined by the weather. In summer when it is hot you will have to water at least daily to twice a day depending on the heat if it is outside. Inside your tree should stay damp at all times but not soaking wet so watering around three to four times a week is recommended.
Always water enough that the water runs out the bottom of the pot. This means all the roots will have access to water. The main watering is always done early in the morning to keep the soil cooler through the day. Do not have your tree on a drip tray. The water must drain away freely.
- All plants grown in a container need to be fed to get good results. Bonsai particularly need regular feeding as the roots are more confined than a traditional container plant. We recommend that you feed your bonsai tree every second week throughout the year with either Nitrosol or Pokon Bonsai food. Always water your tree well the day before feeding for the most optimum results as the damp soil the next day will aid absorption of the fertiliser.
- The art of Bonsai is in the pruning. Often the most daunting but it need not be as you can easily reshape as you get more acquainted with your trees growth habit. Shaping and pruning is done primarily in spring. Simply remove the branches that you do not want. Keep only the branches you wish to, keeping the shape you have in mind. By pruning too frequently your tree will lose some of its strength and you might find growth weaker and the tree more prone to disease.
Root pruning only need to start once your tree is mature and starts to become pot bound.