Bonsai Creek's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Bonsai
Practiced for centuries in China and Japan, Bonsai is the reproduction of natural tree forms in miniature. A Bonsai is a living miniature tree in an attractive pot which increase in beauty and value as they mature over the years. Bonsai simply translates as "tree in a pot".
How hard is it to grow & maintain a Bonsai tree?
Not at all! Taking care of a Bonsai is easy and rewarding for all levels of enthusiasts. However, it does require a regular COMMITMENT to providing adequate natural light and regular watering. Certain species can tolerate a bit more "neglect" than others and are appropriate for beginners and gifts where care levels are uncertain.
How often should I water my Bonsai tree?
Unlike a house plant, Bonsai trees use a "free draining" type of soil because their roots cannot tolerate "wet feet". In addition, they are grown in significantly less soil and, therefore require more frequent watering. Factors such as tree location, temperature, lighting conditions, quantity of soil used and the changing seasons will determine the frequency of watering. You can get to know when your tree needs to be watered by observing the foliage, testing the soil with your index finger just below the surface or just by the weight of the pot. (The drier the tree, the lighter it will feel.)
In general, most trees kept Indoors will need watering ONCE every 2 to 3 days and trees kept Outdoors will need watering ONCE every 2 days or daily depending on the weather (temperature and wind).
How do I provide essential humidity to my Bonsai tree?
All trees naturally grow in more humid conditions than our homes, offices and dormitories. So what can we do to provide this necessary humidity? Misting the tree is only beneficial for a short time so what we recommend is to place the tree on a humidity tray and add water to the tray. As the water in the tray evaporates it creates a humid environment around the tree continuously. When the water in the tray is gone, add more water. It's a good idea to separate the pot from the water in the tray by adding some pebbles to the bottom of the tray as this will prevent any roots from sitting in the water. Misting is generally not necessary unless growing in extremely dry & arid conditions.
How much natural sunlight is required for my Bonsai tree when kept Indoors?
Sunlight, especially the ultra-violet ray, greatly affects the growth of trees. Bonsai should be placed in a location with as much direct sun as possible although indirect sun will also work well - the tree should not be placed more than ONE FOOT away from the glass as the sun's energy drops off dramatically direct light source. A South, East or West exposure works best.
How is miniaturizing a tree possible?
Several techniques are used to keep a Bonsai tree small. The tree is grown in a container, the trimming, pruning, re-potting and other care given the tree -- all contribute to the final result of limited growth. Dwarf trees are often found in a natural environment, but in Bonsai this environment is provided artificially. Bonsai are grown in shallow containers the size of which determines the amount of soil the roots are able to grow in. This environment definitely restricts the growth of the roots and its functions.
How do I trim and prune my Bonsai?
The main objective of trimming and pruning is to shape the Bonsai into the desired form and to reduce growth above ground in order to maintain a balance with root growth. The process of shaping begins when the tree is very young and is on-going as it matures. Trimming is accomplished by using sharp shears. This traditional tool is called butterfly or Bonsai shears and is used for removing foliage and light branches. When heavier branches are removed, we call it pruning and the tool to use is the concave branch cutter, for which there is no substitute. The concave cutter allows you to remove small, medium and even large branches without leaving any visible scars.
How do I prevent diseases and insects from infecting my Bonsai?
As living trees, Bonsai are susceptible to insect attacks and disease. Preventive and corrective measures include (a) keeping your Bonsai in good health, since insects and bacteria tend to attack weak trees, (b) giving your tree ample light, fresh air and ventilation, (c) keeping the soil free of spent blooms and fallen leaves and (d) proper watering techniques which does not leave the soil moist, muddy or sloppy.
You may also use an insecticidal soap spray which is not harmful to humans or animals. This soap derivative, however, may require more than one application to control the insect population. It's also a good idea to use this spray weekly to prevent any attacks.