Growing bonsai trees is a fascinating hobby, but many beginners underestimate the extreme environmental sensitivity of bonsai plants and are dismayed when their plants die within a couple of weeks of being brought home. However, adhering to a few well-established and demonstrable principles for good bonsai gardening will help you avert this fate. To ensure that your bonsai plants thrive rather than strive to survive, follow these guidelines:
Successful Bonsai gardens require the best possible soil, and were not talking about regular garden soil here. Garden soil usually contains bugs, pests and possibly fungi that could cause problems for bonsai gardeners and their plants. To prevent such problems, purchase soil prepared for potting or repotting plants, and if your bonsai garden plants are pines, then choose a more gritty soil.
The pot or container you choose to hold your bonsai plant is very important. The best container choices are cedar boxes, earthenware pots or glazed porcelain pots; just be sure whatever container you choose has a drainage hole for excess water to escape. The best shape for a container depends on the style of the plant. Small bonsai trees that spread out look best in wide, shallow rectangular containers, while more cylindrical plants are best set off by tall and compact ones. Bonsai plants are usually planted off-center in the container for best aesthetic effect.
Both roots and branches must be pruned to keep your bonsai plant healthy. Trimming or pruning of the tree branches will maintain the shape of the tree, while pruning of the roots, which is usually done when the tree is transplanted, is important to keep the tree as a dwarf plant.
The right amount of water is critical for the health and prosperity of your bonsai trees. Bonsai plants should be allowed to become slightly dry before being thoroughly watered. Usually this means every other day in the summer, and every week or so in the winter. Never submerge your bonsai plant container in water. Remember to fertilize regularly: because there is little soil, nutrients wash away easily.
Growing your own moss for your bonsai containers is less expensive than buying moss, and the moss you grow wont suffer as much plant shock when its moved to the bonsai containers.
Outdoor bonsai plants are hardy and can survive the winter weather nicely if mulched where temperatures remain above freezing or moved to a cold frame, garage or shed where they fall below freezing.
Follow these practices your bonsai trees should remain healthy and attractive for many years to come. Bonsai is considered an art in Asian countries, and is also considered a great accomplishment when you do it well. In North America, we tend to love growing bonsai for the sheer interest and relaxing elements of nurturing something special and watching it grow.