Despite what a lot of folks think, bonsai trees are in fact ‘normal’ trees that are kept small by regular pruning and shaping, and – over time the new leaves that grow reduce in size.
Most bonsai trees (and houseplants in general) die for one of 2 reasons… Over-watering (which causes the roots to rot away) or letting the soil dry out completely. So… watering is the key factor in keeping your tree or plant healthy.
The ‘secret’ is simple… keep the soil of your tree damp/moist… avoid it being saturated for any length of time, and avoid it drying out completely!
Because the amount of soil is relatively small with bonsai – particularly as regards the ‘Mame’ (less than 5 inches tall) and ‘Shohin’ (less than 8 inches tall) bonsai, they will need a bit more care… especially if they are outdoors in hotter/tropical climates, as the pots can dry out really quickly.
The best method of watering is to simply stand your tree in a small tray (saucer/plate will do fine) with about 1 cm of water in it. Leave it in the water tray for 5/10 minutes, then ‘Voila!’ your tree is watered!
Indoors you may need to water once every 1 or 2 days – depending on temperature and the size of the pot. You will soon develop a routine once you discover how often your tree needs to be watered… Remember… if the soil is damp/moist then it does NOT need watering!
Indoors or Outdoors?
A lot of bonsai trees can be kept indoors (a nice sunny or bright position or window), or Outdoors (A slightly shaded position protected from heavy rain or strong winds). Avoid hot, direct Midday sun… it can not only dry the soil out quickly, but in doing so heats the soil up to a point where the roots are almost boiled!
If you keep your bonsai indoors, it’s a good idea to put it outside in the sun for a few hours each day… it will LOVE you for doing so!
- Check with your bonsai supplier whether your tree is an indoor or outdoor bonsai (or EITHER!)
- Once every 3 – 4 weeks give your tree a HALF-STRENGTH liquid fertiliser in its water. ANY standard liquid fertiliser will do. This helps replace any nutrients that may leach out of the soil over time.
- Early morning or late afternoon sun is fine for a couple of hours, and helps to keep your tree healthy and strong.