The art of bonsai is using cultivating techniques to grow dwarf trees in containers. Originating in China it was developed and popularised in Japan. Indoor Bonsai are like many houseplants requiring lots of light, a constant temperature and humidity.
This is the biggest issue encountered with bonsai plants.
- Water before the soils surface dries out completely. Apply water to the soils surface until it drains from the pots drainage holes. This may mean daily watering in summer but little in the winter.
- Some growers of bonsai plants do not water then enough leading to leaves becoming brown, shrivelled and crispy resulting in them dropping.
- Other growers can kill their bonsai plants with kindness. Over-watering leads to root rot, leaves turning yellow and dropping.
- Using the right type of compost can alleviate many watering issues.
Feeding & Repotting
Apply a Bonsai Feed fortnightly during the growing season. You should also re-pot your bonsai plant every two years to give the roots fresh nutrients and prevent the growing media from becoming spent and exhausted. Re-potting is best carried out in spring.
- If you have lots of bonsai plants you can make your own bonsai compost. However, be sure what soil your plant likes first. If you have only the odd bonsai plant or two then it will be cheaper to buy ready-made bonsai compost.
- Most bonsai plants will prefer a mix of five parts:
- 2x Peat-Free Compost
- 2x Horticultural Grade Sharp Sand or Potting Grit
- 1x John Innes No 3 Compost or John Innes Ericaceous Compost depending on the type of bonsai plant you have. For example Azalea bonsai like Ericaceous Compost whilst Olea will prefer John Innes No 3 Compost.
Pruning & Training
This is a vital process in keeping your tree miniature. You can prune your plants growth to your individual design during the growing season. Some people use wire to form a shape and then train the branches to shape them to the design. Due to the size of your bonsai pot it will also be necessary to root-prune your plant. This is achieved by:
- Removing the bonsai plant from the pot and lightly tapping away the spent compost before running the root-ball under a tap to remove other compost.
- Take hold of long roots and remove these first back to the main root ball.
- This is followed by trimming the main root-ball back to a flat bottomed shape similar to that of the bonsai pot you are using.
- Place your bonsai plant back into the container and work in the new bonsai compost around the root-ball. A small cane can be useful in doing this
Bonsai will lose some older leaves in spring in order to allow for new growth. Like many other houseplants bonsai can be attached by:
- Pests: Mainly scale insect which can be treated with Bug Clear.
- Powdery Mildew: This can be addressed by spraying with Fungus Fighter. However, the issue is usually a result of poor air circulation and some pruning to reduce the number of leaves or branches can prevent the problem from reoccurring