Bonsai from Supermarkets
Many of us have been gifted or purchased a Supermarket Bonsai tree in our life. Many people have their first experience with this kind of “Bonsai Trees” and come to the conclusion that bonsai is difficult to keep. I thought I would jump on this topic and purchased a very cheap tree. In this post, I will talk you through the process of rescuing your tree. For more info on how to choose your first Bonsai tree please visit the Bonsai for Beginners post.
One of the UK’s leading Supermarket had a very good deal and they were selling indoor trees for £5, so I purchased myself a nice broom style Fukien tea tree. The tree came in a nice ceramic pot and a brief care instruction.
Our tree looked healthy for first sight but the soil was already dry and probably just days away from drying out completely. The attached care guide lacked important information such as the name of species. It was only generic care instruction. Unfortunately, some of the bonsai nurseries do the same and they give out the same instruction for all of their trees.
Our first task is to water our tree. I removed the plastic pot from the ceramic one and watered it thoroughly. If the soil is very dry you might need to submerge the pot into the water for about 30 minutes to water it thoroughly. Once you watered your tree it is time to find out what species you purchased. For that, you can use books such as the ones at the end of the post, internet or facebook groups. Now you should leave the tree to settle for a while before we do anything to it as the tree went through a lot of stress.
Once our tree settled after it’s long journey to our home, it is time to repot it in good quality soil without disturbing the root ball too much. I used a bit oversized bonsai pot (bigger the pot easier to look after our tree) and a 1 to 1 ration soil mixture for my Fukien tea. As described in the care instruction page.
First, you have to cover up the drain holes with the mess than you put some soil on the bottom before you put the tree on the top of it. It is a good practice to secure the rootball to the pot with wire as it helps the tree to settle in its new home. Then you fill up the pot with soil and work it in the rootball with a chopstick to get rid off all the air pockets. Once this is done, you have to water it very well until clean water running out of the drain holes.
Pruning and fertilizing
In this stage, I would strongly urge you to let your tree grow out a bit before you start to prune it. Your tree went through a lot of stress and it needs as much foliage as it is possible to photosynthesize and recover.
Do not fertilize freshly repotted tree for the first month or two. The root system is not able to take up salts from soil and the increased salt content can burn the root ball. Apply the less is more and more is less philosophy.
Once your Bonsai is established and growing vigorously, you can start to prune and feed your tree following the instruction written on the fertilizer.