Bonsai tree for Christmas.

Bonsai tree for Christmas

If you are like I was and your first bonsai tree was a gift and you have no idea what to do with it, you are in the right place.
In this blog post, I will give you the information that you need at the beginning of your journey.

First and foremost, you need to know where the bonsai was purchased.

If it was purchased in a bonsai shop, you will most likely have all the necessary info.

However, if not or the plant was purchased in a supermarket or in a garden centre, I would strongly recommend that you carry on reading because I will give you a lot of useful tips in it.

Please note all the techniques in this article could also be applied to any houseplants cultivated indoors and in a plastic or ceramic pot.

Dry soil on the left, wet one on the right.

There are a couple of things that you need you to know, but first of all, make sure the soil is damp. Don’t let it completely dry out but avoid overwatering. The best way to check the soil is by sticking your finger in it. Most of the soils also change the shade of their colour, the dry soil is usually lighter and the wet soil is darker in colour.
Dry akadama soil on the left and wet on the right.

Most likely you will have to repot your tree soon but let’s not worry about it at the moment.

Next on the list is the pot. The normal plastic flower pots have drain holes on the bottom to let the excess water out, just like a normal Bonsai pot.

Bonsai pot with a drain hole on the bottom.

Ceramic pot without draining hole.

Unfortunately, most of the bonsai trees from the supermarkets come with a fancy looking ceramic pot, but without drain facilities. Just like the one on the left hand side.
These trees are likely to be potted in a plastic flower pot that can be removed from the ceramic pot. To avoid overwatering your tree, I would strongly advise you to remove the plastic pot from the fancy looking outer pot and place it on a drip tray. If you leave it in the ceramic pot, you will most likely over water your tree as the excess water has nowhere to go and it will sit at the bottom of the pot. This stagnant water is the main cause of root rot that will slowly kill your bonsai tree.  ( Most people, when they see leaves starting to fall, think the tree needs more water because it is drying out, but in fact, the reason of those leaves falling is the developing root rot and the increased amount of water will only speed up the process.) This is why most people fail with plants in ceramic pots and have a false impression about Bonsai.

What to do if the soil is bone dry.

The easiest way to fix this by putting the tree with the pot in a bucket of water (the water level should only be above the top of the pot, you don’t need to submerge the entire tree.) and let it soak for about 10-30 minutes or until all the air bubbles leave the soil. Then take it out of the water and let the excess water drain away before you put it back to its usual place. Please do not use this method as your primary way of watering. Submerging the root ball into water will eventually compact the soul and it will cause root-rot.

Positioning your bonsai tree

Your Bonsai tree just like every other plant needs light to survive. The best light source is natural light. If you are living a nice and warm country, then place your bonsai tree outside in a semi-shady spot and watch it grow. However, if you live somewhere in the UK and you are in the middle of the winter I don’t recommend you to put your tree outside because it could be fatal.
So where to place your tree? The best place to keep your tree in the winter months is in a heated conservatory or a bright windowsill or any other place within a 1-meter from a bright window. Please make sure the tree is not further than 1 meter from the window and there is no direct heat source underneath the bonsai because that could dry out the plant quickly.

The next on the list is to find out what species your tree and get a specific care instruction for your Bonsai.

Two of the most commonly sold tree species in the UK.

The best selling Bonsai is the Fig, usually Ginseng Ficus. It is very easy to look after if you follow the instructions from above.

The second in our list is the Chinese elm. This tree is commonly sold as an indoor bonsai tree. It is easy to look after however if it is kept indoors in a dry environment, the infection of red spired mites could give you a headache. The best solution for this is using a humidity tray beneath the tree.

Chinese Elm Bonsai Care

Please note, I generalizing big time and the best is to find out what tree species you have and find a specific care instruction for your bonsai. However, if you need any help with it, let me know and I am more than happy to point you in the right direction.

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3 Responses

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