Bonsai

How to care for a bonsai?

Who else who has stopped to see the bonsai they have in the nurseries. These plants are really curious since, receiving a series of cares, they acquire the same appearance as the trees and shrubs that we can find in nature, although of course, with a much smaller size.

Their health largely depends on the maintenance that their owner gives them, and depending on what species it is, it can be quite demanding. It is not surprising then that, over the years, and especially over the decades, its price becomes more expensive. But how to care for a bonsai? If you just bought one, my first advice is to be patient.

In nurseries, bonsai are usually protected indoors most of the time, perhaps outside, but placed on a shelf. This is fine, as it keeps them green and healthy, but in the long run it ends up weakening them, especially species from temperate or cold climates, such as maples, conifers or ginkgos. And since they are quite close together, and apart from having a roof and a wall, they are hardly exposed to environmental factors (wind, rain, etc.). Not to mention that the managers water them frequently.

When we buy one and bring it home, what can we expect to happen? Well, if we take into account that the conditions for him have changed, the normal thing is that some leaves fall and, if he has them, also flowers. Also, its growth rate will stop temporarily. But apart from that, you will have to get used to the care we give you, and that is why we are going to talk about…:

Bonsai care

Each plant has its own cycles. Bonsai, although at first glance they are miniature trees or shrubs, they are still trees or shrubs. There are no bonsai seeds, that is, if you sow a seed you will get a normal plant. Our protagonists only exist because humans work them, either from seeds, cuttings or layers of other plant beings that are in your garden or in your yard. Therefore, I insist: do not be fooled by its height, it has the same needs as any other tree or shrub.

Keep in mind that depending on the origin of each species, and as the climate and the conditions of its natural habitat are unique, it is impossible to draw up a list that can be applied to all plants that are worked as bonsai. But don’t worry: the one we have made for you will serve as an orientation guide:

Spring

Image – Wikimedia/ Sudhirpv

During spring growth resumes. The buds swell and explode with life as the new leaves open and reach their final size. Some species will flourish, like the Prunus for example, or the Chaenomeles (Japanese quince). So, the needs of your tree are:

  • Location: all bonsai must be outside; you just have to protect the tropical indoors during the winter. Put them in semi-shade, except if they had them in full sun in the nursery.
  • Transplant: if you have any Ficus that need a pot change, now is a good time.
  • Irrigation: temperatures are getting warmer, so it’s time to water every 2 or 3 days, ideally in the late afternoon.
  • Subscriber: pay your bonsai with a specific fertilizer for them following the instructions that you will find on the package.
  • Pinching: pinching consists of cutting the newer leaves in order to make the crown more dense. It can be done throughout the spring and summer.

Summer

During the summer many trees and shrubs are in full growing season. A large amount of sap circulates through its trunks and branches ready to feed the leaves, and the developing fruits if they have any, so that at this time you will only have to worry about:

  • Irrigation: it must be frequent, daily if you live in an area with great insolation and the substrate you have used loses moisture quickly.
  • Pests and diseases: beware of the most common pests and diseases: spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, fungi… Do not hesitate to carry out preventive treatments with potassium soap or neem oil to keep insects away, and with natural fungicides to prevent infections by fungi.
  • Subscriber: continue to fertilize your bonsai. Now is when they most need that extra supply of nutrients.
  • Pinching: you can continue with pinching if you see it necessary.

Autumn

Image – Wikimedia/ Sage Ross

During the autumn it usually happens that the growth rate slows down little by little and gradually. If they have produced fruits, they will soon be ready for harvest, so the needs of your bonsai are not as high as in summer. The care they will need are:

  • Irrigation: decrease the frequency of irrigation. Depending on the climate in your area and how humid it is, you should water an average of 2 or 3 times a week.
  • Subscriber: if no frosts are registered, continue to compost as before. Otherwise, this station you have to stop paying.
  • Location: bonsai of tropical tree and shrub species must be protected indoors or in a greenhouse before the minimum temperature drops below 15ºC.

Winter

Image – Flickr/ KoiQuestion

During the winter cold and frost settle in many places, so that most plants stop their growth. This is the best time for bonsai keepers who enjoy pruning, as there is less risk of something going wrong. For this reason, the care they need are:

  • Irrigation: water every time the substrate dries with warm water. If there is anticipation of frost, avoid doing so as otherwise the roots would suffer damage.
  • Pruning: If you have to prune branches to give or maintain the style of your bonsai, do it late in the season. Remove all those that intersect, those that grow towards you, the sick, the weak and the broken; and cut out those that are growing too much. It is advisable to seal the wounds with healing paste to prevent infection.
  • Transplant: if it has been in the same tray for more than two years, it is interesting to transfer it to another. Transplant your bonsai in late winter, shortly before they resume growth.
  • Pests: it is advisable to treat them with winter insecticidal oil, as this will prevent pests.
  • Location: if you have not done it yet and in your area the climate in this season is cold, protect your most delicate bonsai in greenhouses or indoors.

I hope it has been useful to you .

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