4 Tips for Bonsai Tree Maintenance

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Bonsai trees are miniaturized versions of the trees we see in nature. Because the trees have been genetically altered, it’s important to follow a routine schedule of bonsai tree maintenance in order to preserve their beautiful forms and keep them healthy.

Prune Excess Branches and Roots

Bonsai trees go through a period of dormancy. Therefore, it’s essential you don’t prune a bonsai during this period as you can cause permanent damage to it. The recommended time for pruning is in the spring. At that time, prune all the branches from the tree with the exception of the main branches or Scaffold branches. Prune excess roots as well.

Water the Plant When the Soil Is Dry

When the soil is dry to the touch, water the plant until any excess drips from the bottom of the container. During the winter, when the bonsai is dormant, water the plant about three times a week.

Fertilize the Tree Twice a Month

Fertilize the bonsai during the growing season, or the early spring, late summer and fall. Apply slow-release pellets to damp soil twice a month. Feed a 10:10:10 mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to the bonsai during the spring and summer. Remove the nitrogen or give the tree a 0:10:10 mix in the autumn in order to make the plant hardy for winter. Never fertilize a bonsai in the winter when it’s dormant or when its growth has slowed. Also, don’t fertilize a flowering bonsai when it’s in bloom or feed repotted trees for about a month.

Repot the Bonsai on a Regular Basis

Repot your bonsai on a regular basis to replace old soil and permit new growth. To lessen the stress of replanting, choose the dormant period from late fall to early spring to repot your plant. Small or younger bonsai should be repotted every two years while older trees require repotting about every four years. Typically, if it takes too long for the water to drain or the roots have become a tangled mess, it’s time to repot. To repot then, loosen the rootball by pushing a stick through the drainage holes in the bottom of the container and tap the pot lightly. Gently tug the plant from its container taking care not to pull too hard.

After removing the plant, carefully shake and brush the soil away from the rootball. Spray the roots with water. Prune away about a third of the outer roots. Choose a new pot and insert gravel at the bottom for drainage. Set the tree in the pot and anchor the rootball with copper or aluminum threads tying them together in order to secure the plant. Add potting soil and level the medium with the base of the trunk. Include moss or rocks for accents. Place the plant in a room that’s cool (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Celsius) with good humidity until it recuperates or its roots are established.

Follow the above bonsai maintenance tips and you can enjoy the unique beauty of a bonsai tree in your apartment home at any time of year.

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