How to take care of a bonsai tree? Your Quick Guide

The bonsai tree is masterful Japanese culture, and it has spread worldwide. The craftwork aims to mimic a large and full-sized tree in a dwarf shape in a small pot. Thus, a bonsai needs regular and unrest care and maintenance. Many people perceive that taking care of a bonsai tree is difficult. 

But that’s not true. In today’s article, we will show you how to take care of a bonsai tree so that it can live for hundreds of years and still look young, fresh, and attractive inside your home. 

Bonsai tree care includes choosing the right location to display it, finding appropriate lighting, repotting, regular cutting and pruning, and above all, finding the right soil and fertilizer for the tree

We will show you the secret to maintaining these care guidelines for a super-engaging and beautiful bonsai tree that even beginners would find easy to apply. 

So, shall we begin?

How to take care of a bonsai tree

What Is A Bonsai Tree?

Before we head to the bonsai tee care guide, let’s focus on the bonsai tree first. Many people perceive bonsai as a specific tree species, just like Maple, Oak, etc. But that’s not true. Any tree can be used for bonsai. 

In short, bonsai means a living shrub or tree that has been carefully grown into a dwarf size that mimics a real and full-grown tree. This is an artistic and crafty representation of your nature within our home in a small pot. 

Bonsai lovers not only grow the tree into a dwarf shape to mimic nature, but they also give the tree a story. Years after years, a bonsai lover uses his craft and horticulture knowledge to shape the tree and helps it grow that captivates our hearts. 

Theoretically speaking, you can convert any tree into a bonsai. But in reality, people choose only a few species for bonsai. 

Popular Bonsai Tree Species 

If you are a novice or newbie in the bonsai industry, your journey starts from choosing the right species for bonsai. If you fail to choose the proper species for bonsai, all of your effort and care will be in vain. So, before heading into the bonsai care and maintenance points, let’s see the popular species that bonsai experts worldwide chose to show their craftsmanship. 

  • Ginseng Ficus: Ginseng Ficus can be a great option for beginners to intermediate bonsai planters as it requires the least attention and care. It strives in indirect sunlight in warm conditions and is ideal for both indoor and outdoor bonsai plantations. 
  • Chinese Elm: This tree, perhaps, has been shown mostly in any bonsai image. It sustains in extreme conditions, and overwatering has little effect on it. Thus, its impressive tolerance and easy maintenance make it another top choice for beginners. 
  • Japanese Maple: If you aren’t a beginner anymore in bonsai plantation and willing to invest your labor in beautiful hardwood, Japanese Maple is your best bet. It has bright green or red leaves, and with the age and season, the leaves’ color changes from yellow, orange, and red. It needs less sunlight and more water. So, you can grow it indoors with ease. 
  • Pine: Pine is another hardwood you can train and shape to any shape, thanks to its flexibility and extreme tolerance level. People choose Pine since they can trim the tree into any shape and style they want. 
  • Cedar: As the tree grows old, Cedar showcases beautiful and rough bulk. It is also an evergreen conifer and looks stylish when done in the right way. You can choose Himalayan Cedar, Lebanese Cedar, etc., for bonsai. 

How To Take Care Of A Bonsai Tree

A bonsai tree is the result of years of labor of a planter. When we see a beautiful bonsai, we appreciate its look. But we often forget how much labor and time one has invested to achieve such artistic magic.

That being said, when you grow a bonsai, you need to take care of it regularly. The key cares include proper location, watering, lighting, repotting, etc. 

Find the right place for your bonsai tree:

Find the right place for your bonsai tree

As bonsai is a miniature tree with natural leaves, it adds layers and aesthetics to any home décor. When kept in the right location, a bonsai not only looks adorable but also increases your home look that no showpiece can do. 

However, it would be best if you considered the lighting and seasonal effects while placing a bonsai. Experts suggest changing its location seasonally to help it get the best out of nature. The best location for indoor bonsai is to place it close to a south-facing window. 

Ensure that the tree is placed as close to the window as possible to receive maximum sunlight. Also, most bonsai species are subtropical, and so they need higher humidity. You can choose a humidity tray to help the tree grow better. 

Also, you need to place the tree outdoors to mimic the natural seasonal cycle closely at some point of the year. You should keep the tree in an outdoor space with a lot of sunlight. Also, note the following points and follow them strictly- 

  1. The outdoor temperature mustn’t exceed 40°C when the tree is in outdoor locations. 
  2. The tree must be under direct sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours daily. 

Watering is important:

Watering is important for bonsai

Watering is one of the most challenging aspects of bonsai care and maintenance guidelines. You must know when to water the plant and when not to as well. Also, the watering needs to change from season to season. 

Usually, watering the bonsai once a week is acceptable. But during the summertime, when the temperature reaches the sky, you have to check the topsoil closely. You need to water the plant slightly if you notice any dryness on the topsoil. 

For watering, you can follow these tips- 

  1. Press your finger into the dirt. It would help you monitor the topsoil dampness regularly. 
  2. It would be best to water the bonsai during the early morning as it helps the tree soak the moisture better. 
  3. The bonsai will need more water to survive during summertime. So, during June to August period, you need to water the tree more than the standard schedule. 
  4. During winter, watering the tree once a week will be ideal. Don’t overwater it to damage the roots. 
  5. Make a proper watering schedule and follow it. It helps the bonsai to adapt to the watering schedule and grow better. 

Choose a bonsai-specific soil:

The perfect soil for bonsai should drain quickly but retain moisture for an extended period. It means you can’t use any soil for bonsai. The soil mixture should offer appropriate texture and even distribution of all the essential ingredients.  

The pH level should be neutral from 6.5 to 7.5 ranges. Also, include particles such as gravels, perlite, pumice, or vermiculite to enhance the aeration and drainage of the soil. You can choose from ready-mix soil for bonsai. But a homemade bonsai soil allows you to tailor the mixture better, and you will have more control over it. 

Proper pruning and wiring is the key:

Let’s admit it; we all want our bonsai to look immaculate with a pleasing shape. That’s where proper trimming, pruning, and wiring become important. 

Many bonsai planters call for a professional gardener to cut, prune, wire, and shape their bonsai. While it is truly amazing, it also costs you a massive amount for each cutting session. You can buy bonsai clippers to trim and shape the tree. 

  1. For structural pruning, you should perform the trimming and pruning jobs right after the dormant period. Since plants start to grow fast after a dormant period, pruning it will help you get the desired shape. 
  2. You can perform the maintenance trimming throughout the year. 
  3. You must use sharp clippers and tools to trim and cut the tree without damaging it badly. 

You should trim only the extended branches and shoots to maintain a perfect shape. Also, wire the branches and shoots after trimming to achieve your desired result. 

Fertilization is also important:

Natural plants will soak their essential nutrients from the soil. But bonsai is a decorative plant and grown in small pots. So, it is unable to receive essential nutrients naturally. So, it depends heavily on additional fertilizer. 

Generally, NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus & Potassium) fertilizer should be used for these plants. You can opt for any granule or liquid fertilizer from a nearby nursery and apply it to the bonsai tree. 

  1. Indoor bonsai plants need fertilizer more or less throughout the year. 
  2. During the dormant period and summertime, use nitrogen-based fertilizer more. 
  3. As a thumb of rule, setting for fertilizer once a month is good for indoor bonsai trees. 

When to repot the bonsai?

It would be best if you repotted the bonsai once in every two to three years period. Timely reporting removes the extra roots and helps bonsai thrive. You should repot the plant right after winter as the roots store energy to survive the cold season. So, repotting the plant after winter helps it grow better with the saved energy. 

  1. Carefully remove the tree from the old pot. Then, chop the excess roots with a sharp clipper. 
  2. You may use the old pot. But we strongly recommend you use a new pot. You may choose any ice cream box at ease. 
  3. Place mesh squares inside the pot. It prevents the soil from falling out of the plant. Then, add pebbles, perlite, and other ingredients to the soil. Then, place the tree inside the pot and dress the topsoil if needed. 

Read More About Repot

Final Words 

Here we end the guideline on how to take care of bonsai trees. The key for bonsai plant maintenance is choosing the right soil, ensuring proper lighting, avoiding overwatering it, and applying the right fertilizer timely. Also, pruning and trimming are other key points. 

When you prune the bonsai, you must be careful not to damage the tree. It will enhance the beauty of the bonsai superbly. With its attractive look, the bonsai tree will surely repay your years of labor with excellent aesthetics and not to forget its market value. 

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