Bonsai is the reproduction of natural tree forms in miniature...
This art form has its origin in Japan and China where it has been practiced for centuries.
Bonsai are grown in pots and are totally dependent on you for their care!
With proper care, your bonsai will remain healthy, beautiful and miniature for many years to come. Since your bonsai is a living miniature tree, it will increase in beauty as it matures through the years.
Below are some very basic and generalized instructions for growing and maintaining a healthy bonsai. To be sure of specific needs your bonsai may have consult any of the many books and publications available for purchase at Nick’s Garden Center. Our experienced staff is also on hand to help.
Water: Soil for your bonsai should be kept moist, not wet. Smaller pots will require more frequent watering. The best practice in watering a bonsai is to soak pots thoroughly in a pan, tub, or sink, then let drain. While letting your bonsai soak, now is a good time to rinse the foliage to clean leaves, after all, your bonsai is a show piece. Bonsai plants with new or growing leaves require more water than while resting, but remember, moist – not wet. It is important that your bonsai is never allowed to sit in standing water after watering. Certain species of bonsai will even do better kept on the dry side.
Fertilizing: Miniaturizing is accomplished by pruning and pinching your bonsai, not by starving. Several mild fertilizers for bonsai are available at Nick’s Garden Center such as the New England Bonsai Garden 4-6-4 organic bonsai food. Remember you only need to feed your bonsai during the growing season.
Temperature: Outdoor types do best indoors at 65 to 80 degrees. Most need an annual rest (dormancy) of approximately 60 to 90 days at 30 to 50 degrees, normally in the fall. Remember to keep your bonsai moist but not wet while dormant. Some species can withstand a light frost but should not freeze hard. After dormancy, they can be grown again at normal indoor temperatures. Indoor and tropical types are more ideally suited to day time temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees and should be protected from cold temperatures.
Light: Light needs will vary depending on species, but the best practice is strong indirect or filtered sunlight. Especially with tropical varieties, avoid long periods of direct sunlight. To be certain of your light needs consult a bonsai professional at Nick’s Garden Center.
Relative Humidity: Most bonsai appreciate a higher level of humidity than we have in our homes here in Colorado. Humidity around bonsai kept indoors can be kept slightly higher by setting pots on trays filled with pebbles and water being careful to NOT allow the water to reach the bottom of the pot. Polyethylene can be used to cover plants for periods when you are away to ensure a humid environment. Bonsai kept outdoors should be misted regularly more so on windy or hot days.
Moss: Covering soil mixture with moss helps conserve moisture in the soil. A fine spray once or twice a day will keep moss in good condition.
Pruning: Adequate and timely pruning is essential to good bonsai development and styling. Prune by cutting or pinching back a third to half of new growth or to desired shape. Proper pruning also helps thicken trunks and branches. Root pruning is done when repotting to generate new feeder roots. Pruning practices vary greatly depending on conditions and desired result and cannot be adequately explained in one small paragraph. Most introductory books cover this topic in more detail and are available for purchase at Nick’s Garden Center.
Repotting: Repotting needs will depend on how fast you let your bonsai grow. In general you should repot healthy broad leaved bonsai plants every two to three years and conifer or needle leaved bonsai plants every four to five years. Early spring before any active growth is best time to repot your bonsai. Allow soil to dry slightly then carefully remove the bonsai plant and root ball from the pot. Working in from the edges, loosen and remove about half of the soil around roots with a fork or similar tool. Cut off any exposed portions of thick roots. Cut back remaining roots to half of their exposed length. Reposition your Bonsai in the same or a new pot and carefully but firmly fill with fresh new bonsai soil. Water thoroughly and keep plant in shade until new roots are formed. Bonsai plants are a fun way to add unique and artful greenery into any household. These much condensed suggestions are a very basic introductory guide to care for bonsai. Our experienced and professional staff is always on hand to answer any questions you may have as well. We have a large assortment from small to large bonsai at Nick’s Garden Center, along with all the tools, pots and literature you could need. Bring in your questions and lets get growing.