Taking Care: How to Look After a Bonsai Tree

So, you bought a new bonsai tree. But you are a first-time bonsai parent and have no idea how to care for your new plant baby. Lucky for you, we are here to lend you a hand.

In this article, we have gathered a series of information that will help you on your journey to care for your bonsai tree. 

So, without further ado, let us begin. 

Taking Care: How to Look After a Bonsai Tree

What Is A Bonsai Tree?

A bonsai plant is an artificially grown plant that has been trained or shaped into a small, often miniature version of its natural form. They are usually indoor trees and are a beautiful art form that originated from Japan.

The word bonsai is of Japanese origin and literally translates to ‘planted in a container. This obviously is in reference to the fact that these amazing little trees are grown in containers. 

Bonsai trees can be found in many shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they were created by hand. This means that the owner had to take time out of his day to carefully shape each branch, twig, leaf, flower, fruit, etc., into the desired form.

The process of creating a bonsai tree begins with choosing the right species of tree for your climate zone. Then you need to find a suitable location for it.

Once this is done, you will want to pick a container for it. Finally, you must train the tree so that it grows in the direction you desire.

The goal of training a bonsai tree is to make it grow naturally as any other tree would. This means that you should not force it to do anything unnatural.

For example, if you want your bonsai tree to grow upright, then you should allow it to grow naturally. If you want it to grow horizontally, then you should let it grow naturally as well.

There are several ways to train a bonsai tree. Some people prefer to use wire while others prefer to use wood. But you did not come here to learn how to create a bonsai tree. You came here to learn how to care for one. 

So, let us dive right in. 

Caring For Your Bonsai Tree

There are many things that are important for your bonsai tree to thrive. We have broken down the needs of a bonsai into many categories which you can see below. 

Water 

You may think that bonsai trees only require very little water, but that is not true. A bonsai tree requires about 1/3rd less water than a regular-sized tree because it is smaller. However, just because it does not need as much water as a normal tree does not mean that you should over-water it.

If you notice that your bonsai tree seems to dry out quickly when it rains, then you should increase the amount of water that you give it.

If you notice that your bonsai tree seems to wilt easily during the winter months, then you should decrease the amount of water that it receives.

But as a general rule, most bonsai trees require between 3-5 gallons of water per week. So start with that and add or subtract that amount depending on what your tree tells you that it requires. 

Shaping and Pruning

Shaping and pruning your bonsai tree is important, especially if you want to maintain its shape and size. When you first bring home your new bonsai tree, you should trim off some branches that are too long or too short. This will help keep your tree from growing out of control.

Shaping and Pruning

After you have trimmed off some branches, you should also remove dead leaves and twigs. These should be removed at least once every three weeks. As your tree gets older, it will begin to shed more and more leaves. This is completely normal and should not cause concern.

In addition to removing dead leaves and twigs, you should also shape your tree. This is where you will cut away parts of your tree that you no longer want. Be careful not to cut off too much though. Otherwise, you could end up killing your tree.

Soil

The type of soil your bonsai tree is planted in can greatly affect the health of your tree. There are two types of soils: potting mix and topsoil. Potting mix is made specifically for bonsai trees and contains peat moss, sand, and compost.

Topsoil is made for plants that you plan to plant outside. It has nutrients that are good for plants that are going to be grown outdoors.

When you buy your bonsai tree, the seller probably gave you a bag of potting mix. If they did not, then you should ask them for some. In either case, you should put the potting mix around your tree’s roots. Then, you should fill the rest of the container with topsoil.

Keep an eye out for any insects or diseases that might be present in your soil. You should take care of these as soon as possible so that you do not spread them to other areas of your yard.

Repotting

Repotting your bonsai tree is an essential step in caring for your miniature tree. This is because your plant’s environment can trigger its growth which is why it is so important to re-pot your tree. The best time to repot your bonsai tree is just after winter.

This is because these plants store a lot of energy in their roots. Winter is when they go almost dormant so that it stores energy and helps them to grow when the seasons change. 

Because of this phenomenon, you should try to repot your plant just after winter. This will encourage your bonsai tree to grow at the time of year they have the most energy to do so. 

Fertilizers

Fertilizers can really help your bonsai tree to grow. They contain nutrients that feed the plant. Some fertilizers are designed for use on houseplants while others are meant for outdoor plants.

You should only use fertilizer on your bonsai tree if you know how to properly apply it. Fertilizer should never be applied directly to the trunk of the plant. Instead, you should spray it onto the surface of the soil.

This way, the nutrients get absorbed into the root system of the plant. The best fertilizer for a bonsai tree is one that is specific to the type of plant you have. This can include things like fish emulsion, kelp meal, or blood meal.

But what you use will depend on the type of tree you have so make sure to do plenty of research so that you know what your tree prefers.

Location

Where you put your bonsai tree is just as important as every other step. Your plant will need the right amount of light and temperature to properly thrive. For example, these trees will require between 5  and 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

Location

If you live in a place that does not have very intense sunlight you should consider increasing the amount of time your bonsai tree spends in the sun. 

If you decide to move your bonsai tree from a spot that has relatively low lighting to a more sunny spot you should be careful. Introducing your plant to more intense sunlight slowly will prevent damage from happening to your tree. 

On top of good lighting, a bonsai tree typically requires humid conditions as this helps them to keep the soil moist. 

There is a lot that you need to consider when it comes to the location of your bonsai tree. Just make sure to allow your miniature tree enough direct sunlight, if your type of tree likes humid conditions you should make sure that they receive the appropriate care.

Overall, do research on what your type of tree prefers so that you can put them in a spot that allows them to thrive. 

Pot

The pot that your bonsai tree is housed in is very important for your tree’s health and happiness. This is considered one of the most essential steps when you have a bonsai tree. It sets the plant up for success and because of this, you should take care in choosing a good home for your bonsai tree. 

The pot should be large enough for the bonsai to fit and also have room enough for the roots to grow. On top of that, the pot needs to be small enough that it confines the tree. This allows you to control the trees’ growth, which is an essential step in caring for a bonsai tree.

Diseases And Pests

Bonsai trees, like any other plants or trees, are susceptible to diseases and pests. These can cause serious problems with your bonsai tree such as causing it to die or become weak. You must always try to avoid getting these diseases and pests. There are some common ones that you should watch out for.

Mites: Mites are tiny insects that feed off of the leaves of your bonsai. They can cause serious damage to your tree by eating away at its leaves. To avoid mites, you should regularly check your trees for signs of mite infestation. You can look for white spots on the leaves, or you can simply wash the leaves with water.

Aphids: Aphids are another insect that feeds off of the leaves of a bonsai tree, but instead of eating them they suck the sap from the leaves. Aphids can be found all over the world and are usually associated with warm weather.

They can cause serious problems with a bonsai tree by sucking the life out of it. To avoid aphids, you should remove them using a strong spray of water.

Black Spot: This is a type of fungus which attacks the leaves of your bonsai tree. You will see black spots or patches on the tree leaves, and eventually they will shrivel up and turn yellow.

If you see that your bonsai tree’s leaves have been infected you will need to remove the infected leaves so that the fungus does not spread.

You can also spray a fungicide on the plant. Finally, do not water your plant for a little while as it can encourage spores to spread to other parts of the plant. Once all the infected parts of the tree have been removed you can resume watering. 

Chlorosis: This condition happens when your bonsai tree has a lack of chlorophyll. This can happen when the roots are compacted, or the tree has nutrient deficiencies such as iron.

If your plant suffers from this malady you will notice the leaves turning yellow, but the vein in the middle will stay green. Your bonsai tree may also wilt. 

Root Rot: This is a common problem if you have drainage issues. Root rot can cause the bonsai’s roots to turn brown and become mushy. On top of this side effect, the leaves will change color and the branches of the tree may start to get weak.

The best thing you can do if your bonsai tree has root rot is to prune the infected root and transplant the tree into a fresh pot of soil. This time your pot should allow for better drainage so that your plant does not suffer from root rot again. 

Mold or Mildew: This fungus grows on the surface of your bonsai’s leaves and stems. It causes the leaves to turn yellow and then dry out. Mold or mildew is often caused by poor air circulation around the tree.

To prevent this issue, make sure that there is good airflow around your bonsai. Also, keep an eye out for mold or mildew and clean it off immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

You probably have a few questions left about bonsai plants. So, we have created this section, a place where we can answer your remaining questions on this topic.

Let’s get started!

Can A Bonsai Tree Live Indoors?

The answer to this question is ‘sometimes’, this is because there are some species of bonsai that are cultivated for indoor living and there are others that prefer living outdoors.

Traditionally bonsai are temperate trees and are grown outside in special containers. If you have a tropical or a subtropical bonsai tree they can be trained to thrive inside. 

Are Bonsai Trees Easy to Care for?

Bonsai trees are easy to care for if you know how to care for them. This type of tree needs a lot of work to care for and maintain and if you do not have the knowledge to do so your bonsai will not thrive as it should.

These miniature trees can easily die if they do not get what they require. So, make sure you know exactly what you are doing before you get one of these delightful plants.

How Long Do Bonsai Trees Live for?

Bonsai trees will die quite quickly if they do not get the care they need but if you take proper care of these plants can live for over 100 years. Some have even been recorded living for centuries. So take care of your bonsai, and they will outlive you. 

What Is The Easiest Bonsai To Grow? 

Ficus bonsai is the easiest for beginners to take on. They are ideal for indoors and outdoors. These trees are hardier and will give you time to learn the ropes.

They can handle it when you forget to water them this is because they are resilient trees that are used to under watering. So, if you want a low-maintenance tree for your first bonsai, get a ficus tree. 

Final Thoughts

That is all for this article, we hope that we have been able to give you enough information to get you started in caring for your bonsai tree. There are a great variety of bonsai trees out there, some are designed to be outdoor bonsai trees and others are better off being indoor bonsai trees.

Regardless of where you keep your miniature tree, it is important that you take care of your new plant. Be careful not to give them excessive water, watch out for yellow leaves, and of course give them plenty of exposure to sunlight. 

Everything that you do will affect your bonsai plant’s rate of growth and the overall health of the plant. We know that taking care of a bonsai is not easy, but once you learn how to take care of the one you will never want to stop. Just make sure to take proper care of your new indoor bonsai. Good luck!

Morgan Daniels

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