Bonsai Tree Care
It is a big misconception to many people with regards to bonsai care that it is such a difficult thing to do. The way I like to explain it is like this – we all deal with different people on a daily basis. Each of those people have specific needs and want, likes and dislikes and different personalities. We all have basic needs like food and water but besides the basics we're fussy in our own ways. Trees can be looked at this in the same way.
1. They need water
There are many stories out there with regards to watering. Some say 1 cup every 3 days. What if the tree is in a pot 0,5m big? Others say they must only be sprayed with a spray bottle on the leaves. Ok! So what about the roots that actually absorb water and nutrients? 3 simple rules when it comes to watering. Make sure that your soil is moist and not drenched. When it's dry water and lastly water throughly. Make sure that you water well and water runs through. Sometimes roots are deeper and watering just the surface does not penetrate deep enough.
In winter watering should be done in the mornings when needed. Reason for this is that the temperatures become lower and watering is required less. When you water in the evening temperatures could drop below freezing and then the water in your pots could freeze. This could cause your roots to freeze and kill your plants. In summer I like to switch over to watering in the late afternoons / evenings. The reason is that this way your plants will stay moist all night and most of the morning. If you water in the morning they will still only be moist for the morning.
Keep a eye out for your smaller pots as they may need a second watering if temperatures become extreme. I usually water twice when temperatures are 38 degrees and above and the pots are small. Your trees will sometimes let you know if they need water. You can simply look at their appearance and see they need more water.
2. They need light
Along with light also comes heat. If the tree is in full sunlight then it also gets plenty of heat. Trees or plants cannot grow with out light as they need it for photosynthesis. Knowing what amount of light your plant requires is important. You don't want to put a tree that thrives on full sun inside a dark corner in the house. The tree will surely die and visa versa i.e you can't go put a shade loving trees in full sun.
Fertilizing every few months is a good idea as bonsai are pot bound and cannot seek nutrients with its roots like it would in the wild. There are many types of fertilizers out on the market. Some in liquid form and then the pellet type which I personally prefer. That way every time you water you also feeding. What I have noticed is for some reason my dogs and others who I have spoken to have dog issues. The dogs love the fertilizer pellets and might bump trees or even break branches accidentally trying to get to the smelly stuff.
4. Watch for bugs
Keep a eye on your trees especially early spring when all then new fresh green growth starts and then throughout the growing season as bugs will be out on the prowl. I would recommend a good systemic poison as they last a while and if the infestation is bad a contact poison would be a good idea to wipe them out. If you don't want to kill them you can repel them. Remember ALWAYS be careful with poisons and follow the manufacturers instructions.
5. Know your tree
As mentioned before trees have different needs so it's always a good idea to know what you going to be getting yourself into in terms of your trees cares. Find out the species, see what it's natural growing environment would be so that you can provide that eg: full or semi sun, water lots or little, is it a easy tree to grow or not? What tree would be good for a beginner or are you a more advanced grower? These factors should be taken into account when getting a tree. Also remember if you going on holiday your tree still needs watering.
Looking after your tree or trees can be a very rewarding experience and it is something which you can do for life and even pass it on to someone one day and if well looked after, generations to come. Your trees will give you a life time of joy and all they ask for is a bit of tender loving care in return.
Article by: Nathaniel Minnaar