How To Look After Your Bonsai Tree
Bonsai care is not difficult but will require a few minutes of your time each day.
- Watering – In their natural state trees have deep roots that search out water and nutrients. A bonsai is kept in a shallow pot, so you need to water frequently, usually every day and maybe more than once in hot temperatures. Continue until you see water coming out of the hole in the bottom of the pot. The best way to water is to apply some water, wait 30 seconds, then water again. This way water won’t run off the dry soil and it will be easier to get water to soak in and reach the roots. Outdoor bonsai will need to be watered too – don’t rely on rainfall to provide sufficient water. Many indoor tress also enjoy misting which increases the humidity. If your tree is deciduous (most are) remember to water (but less frequently) during the tree’s dormant period.
- Feeding – In the growing season bonsai need feeding to promote growth and, for some trees, flowering. Different tree types need different feeds – details on the relevant sales page. Most bonsai need a plantfood high in nitrogen from March to the end of June: this encourages leaf growth; then a plantfood high in potassium and low in nitrogen from July to end October: this strengthens the tree in preparation for winter. Lime hating trees like Azaleas need their own special plant food. We sell all 3 types.
- Light – Indoor bonsai are best kept on a south facing windowsill but away from radiators. In summertime indoor bonsai will appreciate being kept outdoors, although this is not essential. Outdoor bonsai may be brought indoors for short periods (for example a weekend). Most outdoor trees need full sun for at least part of the day.
- Re-potting – Move your young tree to a larger pot every 2-3 years. Older trees can be re-potted every 5 years. The best time to do this is when the tree is dormant (winter). Trim the roots at that time, but do not remove more than 30% of the root growth.
- Shaping and Pruning – Trim your tree whenever it looks untidy, ideally with special bonsai scissors available in our ‘Tools’ section. Changing the shape of a tree’s trunk or branches requires wires; this is covered in a separate page.
With proper care your bonsai will live for many years: 20+ years is common.