How to Take the Best Care of a Bonsai Tree

Caring for a Bonsai tree sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Just like any other potted plant, you simply have to pay attention to light placement, watering, maintenance, and fertilizing to have a happy and successful Bonsai tree. The biggest addition to this basic list is the aesthetic treatments many people do for Bonsai trees, which is something unique to these plants. If you don’t know how to take care of a Bonsai tree, then this guide is for you.

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I want to introduce you to all the basics of caring for your Bonsai tree, so that you can enjoy this relaxing and stress-relieving hobby that so many others around the world also partake in!

What is a Bonsai tree?

It’s important to know the difference between a Bonsai tree and other potted trees. Bonsai can be almost any type of trees, but certain methods are used to trim the roots so that the plant does not grow into its large, full size. A Bonsai tree will keep the shape and style of a normal, mature version of that same tree but will be small in size.

Where to Place Your Indoor Bonsai Tree

The first thing on your list of care instructions for your Bonsai tree should be where it will rest at your home. Some Bonsai are great for the indoors and outdoors while others are strictly outdoor trees. You can learn about your particular species of tree by looking it up to find out where it will do the best, or you can buy a tree that suits your preferences.

If you place the Bonsai tree indoors, make sure it’s near to some direct sunlight, such as by a window or glass door. Even though it’s an indoor tree, it will still need the light of the sun to stay healthy and thrive. Some trees do better without direct sunlight than others.

How to Water a Bonsai Tree

Watering depends on your specific tree, so there’s no way for me to tell you exactly how often and how much to water the tree. Instead, I’ll tell you some tips about watering a Bonsai:

1. Check soil dryness

​Your tree will need to be watered when the soil feels dry a 1/4inch down. The surface soil may dry faster than the lower soil, so it’s not always effective to only check the top level of soil.

2. Water the whole root mass

When you’re watering, pour from a watering can onto the top of the tree. This will keep the soil from being disturbed and will also rinse off the leaves and branches. The entire root mass should be wet after you’re done watering.

3. Choose your soil mix well

Some soil mixes hold water better than others. Mix your soil based on what you will be able to do to take care of the tree. Here’s a great video talking about mixing your soil well:

If you don’t want to mix your own soil, you can get pre-made Bonsai soil mixes like these:

4. Use collected rain water

Rain water is the best for Bonsai trees, because it’s free of chemicals and other unnatural substances. But, if you can’t get rain water, you can use tap water from your home as well.

Bonsai Tree Fertilizing

Since you are growing your tree in a small pot, you will have to fertilize it to maintain healthy growth and the best appearance. Use a Bonsai fertilizer for your specific class of tree during the growing season. Most growing seasons last from spring through to the end of summer, when the trees will stop growing so much.

Here are some examples of Bonsai fertilizing pellets:

How to Trim and Prune a Bonsai Tree

Trimming a Bonsai is done for one of two reasons: maintaining tree growth or shaping the tree. Pruning needs to be done occasionally to keep the tree healthy and to remove unhealthy growth. Shaping is done when the tree is maturing and you want to keep it in a particular style.

Use a set of tools like these to remove weeds and trim the growing tree:

Bamboo MN Bonsai Leaf Trimmers

Via Amazon.com

When Should Your Bonsai Tree Be Trained or Re-Potted

Your Bonsai will need to be re-potted as it grows larger. Once the roots outgrow the pot size, you will need a larger pot. If you can see that the roots fill most of the pot without much soil, this is a good sign that the tree should be moved. Sometimes you can tell because the water will pour out of the pot immediately.

Shaping your Bonsai is done mostly through wiring and pruning. You can begin the process at any time of the year, as it won’t really affect how your tree grows, except for the shape of the branches. If you do the training properly, you won’t affect the health of the plant at all.

How to Keep Your Bonsai Tree Free from Disease and Pests

The best cure for disease is prevention. Take these steps to prevent Bonsai disease:

  1. Keep dust and debris off of the plant
  2. Remove organic materials like fallen leaves or blooms from the soil
  3. Allow enough natural like and fresh air to reach the tree
  4. ​Give the soil proper aeration
  5. Re-pot when necessary
  6. Don’t over-fertilize
  7. Paste wounds to quicken the healing process

Follow these steps and you’re less likely to have to deal with pests and diseases with your Bonsai tree.

Conclusion

Bonsai is a great hobby that can help to relieve stress and keep you mentally engaged in a task. This guide gives you the basics on how to take care of a Bonsai tree. It’s simpler than it sounds and very rewarding when you have a healthy, beautiful tree of your own!

Did I cover the basics well enough, or did I miss anything? Let’s talk about it! Leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you when I can.

Amelia
 

Amelia Robinson is a lover of plants and gardens, as well as an educator on this topic. It’s her goal to make sure that you get the chance to learn what you need to about gardening to succeed with your own home garden at the blog RobinsonLovePlants.com. You’re not going to find just a collection of basic articles about gardening here. Instead, she wants to answer the difficult questions for you. She tweets at @robinsonplants

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