Beginner Bonsai Care

Beginner Bonsai Care
by Paprika Claesson

Basic bonsai care is not hard to learn even if you are just starting out as a complete beginner. The process of caring for your bonsai is both a rewarding and meditative process that will help you appreciate the art of bonsai

In the beginning of your bonsai journey you will probably have a lot of questions about how to care for your bonsai. If you take some time to study the fundamentals while starting out with your first bonsai tree you will see your knowledge and skills as a bonsai gardener grow along with your trees.

Bonsai Care: The Basics

The Basics of any garden is the appropriate combination of the right soil, the correct amount of light and right amount of water.

One major need that bonsai trees have that makes it a little more demanding to care for than your regular plant is the need of light. Most bonsai trees are bred to be outdoors but if you are planning on keeping your bonsai indoors make sure to do a little research in what species that don’t need as much light. It could also be a good idea to invest in a light, most indoor bonsai trees need up to 12 hours a day of fluorescent light to stay healthy.

To use the right soil for your tree is an important part of bonsai care. Since your bonsai will grow in a shallow pot which means that the roots will spread out shallowly and slow down your tree’s growth. On the other hand, if your tree was growing in the “wild” it would grow tall due to the root systems deep growth into the earth. Forcing the roots to live in a shallow container is one of the fundamentals to why your bonsai will stay small. This also means that regular potting soil is usually too dense and collects too much water which will slowly make the roots waterlogged, causing the roots to rot and later, the tree to die.

Plant Stuff

Bonsai soil is usually a mix of sand, loam, and organic leaf mold or peat moss. The climate you live in determines what exact soil to use. I suggest to ask your local nursery, bonsai shop or local bonsai enthusiast what soil is the right one for your tree.

Food and Water for your bonsai

One of the questions that people just starting out with their bonsai is “how often should I water my bonsai?” It is hard to give one answer to that question because it depends on so many factors, the species of your bonsai, the climate were you live, humidity, seasons and other factors.

The balance in proper bonsai care is between too much and too little. It can be a bit tricky. Also make sure if you use tap water, that it is room temperature and also let it sit overnight to get rid of chemicals such as chlorine

You want to start with wetting the soil, which will help your bonsai to take in more water. Next you soak the soil until water comes out through the bottom of the pot, make sure that all the soil gets wet. The best time to water your bonsai is in the morning before it starts its photosynthesis cycle. It could be good also, depending on the climate you live in to mist your tree to make sure it keeps its humidity level.

As for fertilizer in bonsai care, use a completely balanced fertilizer (i.e., 20-20-20, which is equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) every other week at quarter strength. A balanced fertilizer is ideal in bonsai care because your tree is considerably smaller than the plants the fertilizer is typically used for. Never fertilize a dry tree (the shock could kill it – make sure to water first!) and don’t fertilize a sick tree; remember, fertilizer isn’t medication.

So with the right bonsai knowledge, the right soil, the appropriate amount of light and water and fertilizing every other week you should be on your way to growing your first beautiful and healthy bonsai tree. The art of bonsai doesn’t have to be a difficult or tricky journey, just remember to stick with the basic fundamentals of bonsai care.

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