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Caring for a Bonsai

Caring for a bonsai can seem daunting at first. There is so much conflicting information on the internet and it can make the art of bonsai seem much more complicated than it really is.
Your first tree is exciting, it’s a new experience which will hopefully turn into a passion. We have put together this quick guide to help you grow a healthy bonsai.

Watering, Feeding and Misting

Bonsai soil should be kept damp to the touch at all times; varieties such as the Oriental Tea Tree and Serissa like to be kept on the drier side of damp. You should check the soil multiple times a day, we usually say morning and evening to get yourself into the routine. You should also feed your bonsai once a week with a bonsai feed/fertiliser.

The leaves should be misted regularly to increase the humidity. You can mist with plain water, or our bonsai mist which helps to condition the leaves and deter pests.

Pruning, Weeding and Scraping

When the shoots start to look straggly and out of place, it is time to prune. Using a pair of bonsai scissors, trim the shoots back; the foliage “pads” should look neat and well defined. If you find that you have a few dead branches, trim them back to where they are still alive. Pruning the tree encourages back budding and helps the tree to grow.

It is important to weed your bonsai soil as and when needed. You can simply remove them with your hands or a tweezer tool does a fantastic job.

Scraping moss and algae from the soil surface is also incredibly important. A layer of moss/algae will affect sufficient water reaching the roots of the bonsai; you also cannot correctly judge if the soil is damp or not. Using a spatula or a blunt knife, scrape the layer off and top up the soil if necessary (you can use any good-quality soil).

We hope this post helps you in the future when caring for a bonsai, whether it is your own tree or a a tree you are looking after.
For more guidance and troubleshooting, check out our Bonsai Direct Care Handbook.

The amazing art of bonsai

We take our inspiration from natural woodlands & full grown trees….

The amazing art of bonsai – A bonsai is a small tree in a pot. The word ‘bonsai’ literally translates to ‘potted tree’. However, a bonsai is also a work of art, one which is never finished. Over many years, each tree is skilfully styled and trained, from the branches, to the trunk, and even the roots. This is a lengthy and delicate process, but is more than worth it! Each little tree is styled of a fully-grown one; when we are out on a walk, we are constantly looking at the mature beauties that can be found everywhere, and we bring the very best bits to our bonsai.

However, buying a bonsai is just the beginning. Once you have received your new house-mate, you can continue to work with it to create your perfect bonsai.

Furthermore, an important point to remember is that the tree is alive! With the right care, they can live for hundreds of years, but they will die if the care is not quite right. Let us consider the attributes of these three beautiful specimen bonsai. We hope this gives you a taste of the artistic design features we are trying to achieve.

These 3 bonsai are mature specimens and many of these features take many many years to establish. However, we we can start to incorporate these details and aim for such beauty in younger bonsai also. Our hope is that by highlighting some of these features you may start to incorporate them into your own bonsai.

Let us know if you liked this “The amazing art of bonsai” blog and we will continue writing about this and create more content surrounding it!

Note-worthy attributes …

What makes a bonsai great!

The first point to note is the root flare (called the nebari in the bonsai world) on each bonsai. This is a lovely feature which literally grounds the tree to the soil. The exposed roots lead the eye up the trunk and give the bonsai a sense of stability and character. The trunk flow and taper are both very important design aspects. In an ideal world you would have a thicker trunk at the base of the tree which gradually tapers as it reaches the top.

These three bonsai are all ‘informal uprights’ and sport wonderful S-shaped trunk flows. However, a formal upright style tree is a more traditional shape with lovely even canopy and straighter trunk – this maybe your personal preference. We find the ‘informal upright style’ such as shown in these examples is most popular.

If you consider our three examples you will note that the all have a clear trunk flow. Try to ensure the main trunk is uncluttered and that there are no branches pointing directly towards the viewer. Space is vitally important when creating a bonsai. Each of these bonsai, although quite different from one another, boasts plenty of space between the branches. The branches are highly refined in design, forming foliage pads of leaves. Over time the branches thicken and become more in proportion with the trunk stature.

Don’t forget the right pot!

When choosing the pot, there is always an element of personal preference. Try to choose a pot which is harmonious with the bonsai. When you view the overall composition the tree and pot should appear well balanced and one element (ie the pot or the tree) should not stand out overly. There are occasions when choosing the best point there may be a compromise – it maybe just the best one you already have or in these strange times of Covid-19 we have found obtaining stock from China extremely difficult & there is a general shortage of pots. Thus the ideal pot colour or shape may not be available to you.

Here are some more beautiful examples of specimen indoor bonsai …

What do I do with my bonsai tree when I go on holiday?

What do I do with my bonsai tree when I go on holiday?

What should I do with my bonsai when I go on holiday??

What do I do with my bonsai tree when I go on holiday?

Please take your little tree on holiday with you hehe….

If you are just going away for a short break (up to 5 days) please stand your bonsai in a tub or the kitchen sink in water. Ensure that the water level is at least half way up the pot. Please ensure that it is in a cool position. The bonsai will be over-watered for a few days but this is preferable to drying out. Upon your return remove the bonsai from the water and then only water again when the soil is barely damp. Then return to your normal watering regime.

If you are going away for longer than 5 days then you need to find a friend or neighbour to take care of the bonsai for you. Please leave them with care instructions and you could even recommend that they watch our bonsai watering video. It is normally a good idea for them to take it home with them – then they won’t forget to water it!

If your question has not been answered, please send us a message or email. We can try to help you further!

Bonsai Care Information

Bonsai care information

Caring for a bonsai can be daunting, especially when its your first. Consequently, we wanted to give you as much insight as possible into different aspects of bonsai care.

Please read below for bonsai care.

Please keep in touch!

An eco-friendly bonsai tree from a small, independent UK business who are conscious about their sustainability and are helping to fight the fight for clean air.

If you are unsure about which bonsai tree is best for you, for your gift, or you have any other queries, please contact us and one of our friendly team will get back to you.

Make sure you sign up for our newsletter  (at the bottom of the page) for priority access to new products and exclusive offers. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest for behind the scenes, tutorials and lots of other care advice!

How Do I Water My Indoor Bonsai Tree?

Watering indoor bonsai trees

Watering is the most important part of growing bonsai.

Check your bonsai morning and evening to see if it needs watering. If the soil looks dark and feels wet then it will not require watering. Only when the soil looks light brown and feels damp will your bonsai require more water. Water thoroughly all over the soil until the water drains through into a tray or saucer. Never let your bonsai dry out and avoid keeping it constantly wet. The soil should go from wet to damp between watering. Remember the hotter the position, the more water your bonsai will use. If the soil surface becomes hard during hot weather simply submerge your bonsai in water, to cover the soil surface, for about ten minutes.

Leaf Drop on my Bonsai

SymptomsWhat to do nextImage
Reacclimatising 
(Very common and nothing to worry about)
– Normally happens within 2 months of receiving/moving your bonsai
– Older leaves will drop (those closer to the trunk)
– Newer (often a lighter green) leaves will start growing at the ends of the branches
– Please give your bonsai some time to acclimatise to its new location. 
– Keep the soil just damp to the touch at all times.
– It can often take 4-6 weeks before new buds appear
Reacclimatising
Underwatering 
(very common and 
more serious)
– Often during hotter periods, but can happen at any time of the year
– Older and newer leaves are effected
– Leaves go yellow/brown and crispy
– Symptoms are displayed quickly (usually within a couple of days)
– Please stand your bonsai in a container of water for 1 hour so
the water just covers the top of the pot. 
– Please watch our watering video and keep the soil damp at all times
– It can often take 6-8 weeks before you see any signs of improvement
Underwatering
Overwatering
(less common and slightly serious)
– Often during cooler periods, but can happen any time of the year
– Older and newer leaves are effected
– Leaves go black/brown
– Symptoms for overwatering can take a while to show
– Please watch our watering video and keep the soil just damp at all times
– It can often take 6-8 weeks before you see any signs of improvement
Overwatering

What happens when I go on holiday?

If you are just going away for a short break (up to 5 days) please stand your bonsai in a tub or the kitchen sink in water, so that the water level is at least half way up the pot. Please ensure that it is in a cool position. The bonsai will be over-watered for a few days but this is perferable to drying out. Upon your return remove the bonsai from the water and then only water again when the soil is barely damp. Then return to your normal watering regime.

If you are going away for longer than 5 days then you need to find a friend or neighbour to take care of the bonsai for you. Please leave them with care instructions and you could even recommend that they watch our bonsai watering video above. It is normally a good idea for them to take it home with them – then they won’t forget to water it!

How do I feed my Bonsai Tree – Instructions on using Bonsai Fertiliser

Feeding indoor bonsai trees

All bonsai trees and pot plants are dependent upon us for nutrients and water. Feeding your bonsai will keep it strong and vigorous and help prevent attack from pest and disease. Please feed with a recognised bonsai fertiliser such as Bonsai Direct Liquid Bonsai Fertiliser , other general plant foods can be too strong for the bonsai and may scorch the roots. If using a liquid bonsai feed I would recommend feeding indoor bonsai once a week during the spring, summer and autumn. Reduce the feeding to approximately once a month in mid-winter when it is barely growing. It is particularly important to feed flowering bonsai. Bonsai, like the Serissa for example, are very hungry trees and rely on you for their nutrients. You will notice yellowing of the leaves if the bonsai is deficient in nutrients.

Please keep in touch!

An eco-friendly bonsai tree from a small, independent UK business who are conscious about their sustainability and are helping to fight the fight for clean air.

If you are unsure about which bonsai tree is best for you, for your gift, or you have any other queries, please contact us and one of our friendly team will get back to you.

Make sure you sign up for our newsletter  (at the bottom of the page) for priority access to new products and exclusive offers. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest for behind the scenes, tutorials and lots of other care advice!

How Do I Prune My Bonsai Tree?

How do I prune my bonsai tree?

Pruning Bonsai – Keep the Styling Neat and Lush

Pruning your bonsai is an essential part of bonsai tree maintenance. If you did not prune your bonsai you bonsai would become straggly and you would end up with a ‘bush’. Your bonsai would not have neat foliage pads and the beautiful design of the trunk would disappear from view. Not only does pruning keep the bonsai aesthetically beautiful it also maintains the proportions. Regular pruning helps reduce the size of the leaves to nearly half the size. The new season leaves are always larger but with regular pruning the leaves naturally reduce in size.

Pruning Bonsai Trees Promotes ‘Back-Budding’

Pruning also encourages ‘back budding’. Back budding is a process, whereby, through the use of pruning the growth hormones move lower down the branches. Usually, the growth hormones are in the growing tips. By pruning, one encourages these hormones to move lower down the stems to encourage dense neat foliage pads and not long and leggy shoots.

Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) – Indoor Bonsai Tree

In this video Lloyd Noall, from Bonsai Direct, shows us how to prune your indoor bonsai trees. Using Verity’s bonsai as an example, you will see how to regain the shape of a bonsai tree using simple pruning techniques. The Chinese Elm (Ulmus pavifolia) is a fantastic indoor bonsai tree, with immense character. Ideal bonsai for beginners – easy to grow, care for and style. Great fun to prune!

 

Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia Theezans) – Indoor Bonsai Tree

In this video, Lloyd Noall from Bonsai Direct, shows how to prune to shape a Chinese Sweet Plum Bonsai (Sageretia theezans) which has not been turned and only has foliage on one side.

European Larch (Larix) – Outdoor Bonsai Tree

In this video Lloyd Noall, from Bonsai Direct, shows us how to prune a European Larch – a fantastic deciduous outdoor bonsai tree with great character. Larch trees make beautiful bonsai. During winter the branches are bare revealing intricate branch and twig structures. When spring comes, small bright green needle shaped leaves appear around the buds, giving the appearance of small green flowers. After watering little globules of water are trapped in the centre of the leaves, which sparkle in the sunlight. The foliage darkens during summer and in autumn turns bright gold. The bark also has great character. The Larch is easy to shape using pruning and wiring techniques. We hope you enjoy this video.

These are the tools we would recommend for Bonsai Pruning

Where Should I Put My Bonsai Tree?

Where Should I Put My Bonsai Tree?

Where should I put my indoor bonsai?
  • Place your bonsai on a humidity tray; this will catch the water draining through the holes in the bottom of the bonsai pot.
    This water will create some humidity around your bonsai, especially when the central heating is on.
    Please take care that the tray does not overflow onto your furniture and make sure that your bonsai does not sit in the water.
    If bonsai sit in water this can rot the roots and the bonsai can become weak.

  • Good daylight is essential to the health of a bonsai.
    During winter place your bonsai in the brightest place possible, trying to avoid hot objects like radiators and televisions.
    In summer time beware of hot south facing windows, a little sunlight morning or evening is beneficial, but too much and your bonsai could over heat.
    Basically, your bonsai needs a position with good daylight but out of direct sunlight.

Please keep in touch!

An eco-friendly bonsai tree from a small, independent UK business who are conscious about their sustainability and are helping to fight the fight for clean air.If you are unsure about which bonsai tree is best for you, for your gift, or you have any other queries, please contact us and one of our friendly team will get back to you.Make sure you sign up for our newsletter  (at the bottom of the page) for priority access to new products and exclusive offers. You can also find us on FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok and Pinterest for behind the scenes, tutorials and lots of other care advice!

How do I repot and root prune my bonsai tree?

How do I repot and root prune my bonsai tree?

Re-potting indoor bonsai trees

A bonsai will need re-potting when the root ball is solid and firm or if the pot is aesthetically too small, causing the bonsai to look top heavy and out of proportion with the pot.
Additionally, it is important when you repot a bonsai to ensure that the pot and the tree look balanced.

Also, it is quite amazing how different the bonsai can look depending upon the pot you choose.
Below are 4 images of ‘Angus’ the Chinese Elm bonsai in 4 different pots. Each of the four pots is the correct size, so this is an aesthetic choice.


Which pot would you choose?

Choosing a bonsai pot

In fact, we asked our Google+ and Facebook followers which pot they preferred and the genral consensus was Pot D.
This is a good choice, the pot is in harmony with the bonsai and is the correct size but not over-powering; it does not detract from the bonsai but adds to the overall composition.

We now follow Holly as she re-pots ‘Angus the Chinese Elm’ into this beautiful oval olive-green ceramic bonsai pot.

1. Firstly, carefully remove the bonsai from the old pot. Holly is using a bonsai spatula to help ease the root ball from the pot.

Take the bonsai out of the pot

2. Once removed from the pot, use an old chopstick to gently tease the long straggly roots round the edge of the root ball. The aim is to loosen the soil all the way round the edge of the root ball so that you can root prune your bonsai tree.

Teasing out the roots

3. As you can see, Holly has simply loosened the roots around the edge. The rest of the root ball remains intact. Another point to add, only loosen the outer 1/5 of the root ball.

Loosen the roots of the bonsai

4. Using a sharp pair of bonsai pruning shears Holly removes the straggly lose ends of the roots around the root ball.

How do I root prune my bonsai tree?

5. Holly has prepared the new pot with mesh to cover the drainage holes and an anchor wire is in position.

pot prepartion 2

6. She has covered the base on the pot in a layer of bonsai potting soil (in these photos we are using a quality Japanese Bonsai soil called Akadama, which is great for drainage but also encourages the growth of the fine feeder roots).

Fill the pot with academia

7. Holly now positions the bonsai into the new pot making sure that it is balanced and that the base of the trunk sits level with the rim of the pot. Ultimately the soil level will be just below the rim of the pot to aid watering.

Placing the bonsai in the new pot

8. Holly now secures the root ball to the pot using the anchor wire. This prevents the bonsai from wobbling whilst the new roots are growing.

9. Next, Holly adds the soil evenly around the root ball using a soil scoop.

10. She works the Akadama carefully around the roots using a chopstick, ensuring there are no air pockets.
Using chopstick

11. Once she has worked the soil in and made it neat (using a coir brush), Holly soaks the bonsai in water for 10 minutes, so that the soil is saturated. She then lets it drain.

allow to drain

12. Lastly, please meet ‘Angus’ the Chinese Elm bonsai in his new pot.

The final picture
Bonsai re-potting tutorial by Lloyd Noall from Bonsai Direct

Please keep in touch!

An eco-friendly bonsai tree from a small, independent UK business who are conscious about their sustainability and are helping to fight the fight for clean air.If you are unsure about which bonsai tree is best for you, for your gift, or you have any other queries, please contact us and one of our friendly team will get back to you. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter  (at the bottom of the page) for priority access to new products and exclusive offers. You can also find us on FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok and Pinterest for behind the scenes, tutorials and lots of other care advice!

General bonsai advice

General bonsai advice

We recommend that all indoor bonsai are placed on a drip tray or saucer. Frequently called a humidity tray, these are ultimately to prevent damage to furniture. Please ensure that the bonsai does not actually sit in water.
If a small amount of water is left in the tray, this will increase the humidity around the bonsai. This is particularly important during winter months when the central heating.
However, it may be helpful to place the tray on a small mat to ensure that no damage is done to surfaces. 

The humidity around the bonsai can also be maintained by misting the foliage daily with a water.
This can be especially useful during the winter when the heating is on. This is in addition to watering the soil.

Spraying weekly with Bonsai Mist will help feed the leaves and deter pests, and will help your bonsai grow.

At Bonsai Direct we also spray once a week with a plant invigorator.
A plant invigorator is highly recommended as a preventative measure against pest and disease and also to helps promote growth.

Spraying monthly with an insecticide and fungicide is very good practice, and will prevent any pests and diseases.
If you already have a pest or disease, then it is essential to spray with an insecticide and fungicide.

Please keep in touch!

An eco-friendly bonsai tree from a small, independent UK business who are conscious about their sustainability and are helping to fight the fight for clean air.

If you are unsure about which bonsai tree is best for you, for your gift, or you have any other queries, please contact us and one of our friendly team will get back to you.

Make sure you sign up for our newsletter  (at the bottom of the page) for priority access to new products and exclusive offers. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest for behind the scenes, tutorials and lots of other care advice!

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