Frequently asked questions about the care of Bonsai
I was given this Bonsai as a gift. Now what do I do with it?
Enjoy it. For all the tradition, elaborate techniques of training, special shapes, and mystifying language associated with Bonsai culture, Bonsais are a beautiful gift and not much different to care for than the normal house plant that requires a pot with a drain hole. Really! In general, treat a bonsai that same way and with a little trimming to keep its shape and you will have an astounding presentation that takes far less attention than people think.
What are Bonsai and how are they made?
Bonsai are miniature trees or shrubs, kept to a small size by trimming their branches and restricting their root growth by the size of the pot they are kept in. Bonsai are a tradition and art form dating back thousands of years in China and Japan. Trees, hundreds of years old, are passed on from generation to generation and obtain unheard of value. True Bonsai practice requires commitment both to learning the techniques and to the plant.
But how do you know if you want to make that commitment? We, at Lucky Bamboo Shop, have selected two species of Bonsai trees for their care requirements and tolerance to the mistakes the beginners make with their first bonsais. All of these trees have been selected for their potential and their basic shape started for you. Look at this Bonsai as a test to see what level of commitment to Bonsai you have.
Our Bonsai little more care than a normal house plant for light, water and fertilizer. In return for periodic trimming, you will gain a very unique and personal Bonsai.
How do I water and when?
Bonsai will not tolerate soggy soil. Bonsai require a free draining pot and soil mixture. Their watering schedule is pretty much the same as any house plant in a pot with a drain hole. As with any plant type, the ideal water schedule will vary slightly with the plant, soil, location, temperature and humidity. The species we have selected have an above average drought tolerance just to give you some leeway. By observing the foliage and testing just below the surface for dampness, you can tell if water is needed. After you become familiar with the plant, you can tell by lifting up the pot. If the pot feels light, it probably needs water.
I have heard that Bonsais need misting all the time. Is that true?
Yes and No and That depends. All trees like humid climates. (Ever see trees in the desert?) A Bonsai is a very big tree in a tiny pot; it has a tendency to dry out. Trees take a great deal of its moisture from the air or the humidity in the air. So the question to mist or not, relies on the location and the amount of humidity present. Conditioned air may require no misting or misting several times a day.
Take the worry out of the misting question by placing the pot in a tray of water. Keeping water in the tray will provide humidity through evaporation and, as a bonus catch over watering. Just make sure the top of the water in the tray is below the bottom of the pot drain hole. (Remember, no soggy roots)
Misting is like a gentile rain indoors. Trees love it and it washes off all the dust and makes the leaves all green.
How much fertilizer is required?
Since the Bonsai is in a limited space defined by its pot, fertilizer is required. One of the techniques of keeping the tree a Bonsai is to limit its growth. Most fertilizer is designed by manufacturers to promote growth, the more growth the better the fertilizer. Never use the manufactures’ recommended dose; we want a healthy tree not a lot of growth. Water based fertilizer is usually the best. Any overage of fertilizer can be flushed out the drain hole and only a few drops are required in the regular water. Green Green used with lucky bamboo can be used with Bonsai.
How much sun light is required?
Sun light is naturally good for Bonsais, but two things are related to sun light that are not good for Bonsais. These are ultra-violet light and evaporation. Ultra-violet is not usually a problem for a tree, but Bonsai are like baby trees under stress. Avoiding direct sun light or limiting it to several hours a day will avoid the damage caused by ultra-violet rays. Direct sunlight dries out a bonsai in a short time and the limited size of the pot makes this a danger.
That said, bright in-direct light is required to stay healthy. East or south facing rooms are best with plenty of windows. North facing rooms or restricted windows may require grow lights.
How are bonsai shaped?
Large Bonsais are shaped by various techniques of wiring, rope binding, and branch bending as well as trimming the foliage and new growth. The beginning junipers and snow rose that we have chosen do not require any of those except the trimming. The leaves and branch sections of both are small and easy to trim to any shape. Much of the new growth can be removed by pinching between the thumb and first finger nails or a sharp scissors. Leave some new growth each spring trimming to maintain a healthy tree.