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.
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.
What happens when I go on holiday?
If you are just going away for a short break (upto 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!
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.
It is important when potting bonsai to ensure that the pot and the tree look balanced.
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???
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. Carefully remove the bonsai from the old pot. Holly is using a bonsai spatula to help ease the root ball from 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.
3. As you can see Holly has simply loosened the roots around the edge. The rest of the root ball remains intact. Only loosen the outer 1/5 of the root ball.
4. Using a sharp pair of bonsai pruning shears Holly removes the straggly lose ends of the roots around the root ball.
5. Holly has prepared the new pot with mesh to cover the drainage holes and an anchor wire is in position.
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).
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.
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.
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.
12. Please meet ‘Angus’ the Chinese Elm bonsai in his new pot.
Bonsai re-potting tutorial by Lloyd Noall from Bonsai Direct
- 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.
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.
We recommend that all indoor bonsai are placed on a drip tray or saucer (frequently called a humidity tray). Please ensure that the bonsai does not actually sit in water. The purpose of the drip tray is to stop water from damaging your furniture during watering and if a small amount of water is left in the tray, this will help to maintain the humidity around the bonsai. This is particularly important during winter months when the central heating is on and the air is dry.
The humdity around the bonsai can also be maintained by misting the foliage daily with a mister. This is in addition to watering the soil.
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.