This article was originally published on the web on wsbonsai.co.uk however that website is defunct at February 2009. The copyright is with the original owners of wsbonsai.com
How to look after your indoor Bonsai
IMPORTANT – NEVER LET YOUR BONSAI DRY OUT!
NOTE: Within 2 weeks of getting your bonsai home it’s quite normal that some of the leaves will turn yellow and fall, this happens as the Bonsai acclimatises to its new surroundings.
Flick any yellowing leaves off and they will re-grow. DO NOT pluck them as this damages the new buds.
Your Bonsai should be watered approximately every other day, more often during the hottest months.
Fill a bowl or sink with tepid water. Immerse the bonsai so the water comes over the rim of the pot and covers the soil, and leave it for five minutes. Then, lift it out and place it on a draining board and allow the excess water to drain away.
You must not let your Bonsai sit in water after draining.
If you follow this method your Bonsai will get the required amount of water.
For best results, use a humidity tray and mist spray twice a day too.
Remember the soil should be moist to the touch at all times, if wet don’t water, NEVER let your Bonsai DRY OUT.
A Bonsai needs plenty of natural light but NOT blazing midday sun as the leaves will burn and die.
If your tree grows large leaves on long leggy shoots it’s not getting enough light.
Any warm bright area will do, although window sills may not be the best place due to the constant fluctuation in temperature; however, if a window sill is the only place you can keep your Bonsai, be sure to rotate it every week.
Once you have found a suitable place for your Bonsai, leave it there so it can acclimatise itself with its new environment.
You will know it's in the right place as it will flourish and grow many new shoots.
If it’s in the wrong place, it will loose its leaves.
Indoor Bonsai will benefit from being outside in a semi shaded area during the summer months.
All Bonsai need fertilizer to make up for the lack of nutrients normally available in the wild.
Either use a specially formulated Bonsai feed or Phostrogen tomato feed.
We recommend that you feed once a week with half the recommended strength during summer and once a month during the winter.
Be sure to fertilize after watering and do not exceed the specified dose as over feeding will burn the roots and possibly kill the Bonsai.
Your bonsai needs pruning all year round, more so during summer.
Just cut off the long shoots to one or two leaves to maintain the shape of your Bonsai.
You may need to repot your Bonsai every other year and this should be done in early spring, this is done to maintain fine fibourous healthy roots.
To repot, tease the Bonsai out of the pot and loosen about 1 third of the soil from the sides and underside of the root ball and trim away the long hanging roots. (Use a clean sharp pair of root cutters).
Clean the pot or choose a new one.
Repot using a free draining soil mix (1 part fine grit 2 parts organic soil) or buy a pre mixed bag.
- Brown crispy leaves – Lack of water. (Follow watering instructions above).
- Sticky leaves – Your Bonsai could have Aphids, whitefly or greenfly. Check the underside of the leaves for both insects and eggs - to treat, place the Bonsai outside and spray with a contact insecticide and be sure to cover both sides of the leaves.
- Every leaf turning yellow – Over watering (follow the watering instructions above).
If your tree suffers any of the above conditions STOP fertilizing immediately as this will do more harm than good.
Restart to fertilize only when new growth appears.
If you follow these simple instructions your Bonsai will stay healthy and reward you for many years.