The Japanese word ‘ bonsai ‘ literally means ‘ tree in a pot ‘. For many hundreds of years indoor bonsai have been cultivated by both the Chinese and Japanese and are considered to bring harmony and nature for the home. More recently miniature indoor bonsai trees have become much more popular throughout Europe as Westerners discover the delights and rewards of this fascinating hobby.
We have provided you with a guide for the basic requirements needed to care for your bonsai.
When a bonsai is kept indoors the atmosphere is often too dry. To create ideal conditions, mist the foliage daily and keep the tree standing on a humidity tray. The tray should be filled with gravel which is kept moist, though the bonsai pot should not be standing in water. As the water evaporates it creates a humid micro-climate around the bonsai tree. Do not keep your bonsai on a TV or near a gas fire – this is too hot and dry.
Check your bonsai daily. It should be watered when the soil is becoming dry.
IMMERSING YOUR BONSAI
This technique is the most effective way to water your indoor tree. Stand the bonsai in a tray of tepid water up to the rim of the pot so that the water may be drawn through the drainage holes underneath the pot. leave until the compost is completely soaked. This may take up to 20 minutes. Drain off excess water.
The soil should be allowed to become a little drier before being immersed again, but not to the point where the leaves begin to wilt. If the soil is dry and dusty to the touch, now is the time to water again. However, if the soil underneath the surface is still damp then do not water yet. Remember that is the compost is always soggy the roots will rot.
Feed every 7-10 days during the growing period, usually April to October. Do not feed a tree in flower. If you have re–potted your bonsai, leave it 4-5 weeks before feeding again.
Maintaining and developing your tree can be carried out in two ways:
LEEF-PRUNING: Using bonsai pruning scissors or leaf cutters, prune new growth regularly in the growing season to maintain the desired shape. Allow shoots to develop 4-6 new leaves then cut back to 2. new growth on conifers should be pinched out using a twisting movement with the thumb and forefinger.
WIRING: Using specialist bonsai training wire, the style of your bonsai can be developed by shaping the branches into the desired position. Coil an appropriate thickness wire around the branch, bend the two together and the wire will hold the branch in position. after a suitable period the wire can be removed using wire cutters and the branch will remain in place. Always remember to remove the wire before it starts to cut into the bark.
Periodic re-potting is required to maintain the health of your bonsai. If the roots become visible all around the root ball then it is time to re-pot. Spring is the ideal time, just before the start of the growing season.
Before commencing, select a slightly larger pot:-
1) Carefully ease the tree from its pot
2) Loosen the compost from the edge of the root ball (you may need to use a root hook)
3) Comb out the roots and trim them back by 20-25%
4) Cover the drainage holes of the new pot with mesh
5) Thread wire through the drainage holes and mesh (to secure the tree firmly in the pot)
6) Place the tree into its new pot using fresh compost and secure it with the threaded wire
7) Water well
8) Allow the roots to recover for one month before starting to feed