General Care of Bonsai Plants #3

images (24) Repotting

All potted plants will eventually outgrow their containers. While houseplants need to be "potted-up", that is, placed in larger and larger containers, the miniaturization of a bonsai trees is maintained by keeping the roots confined to the small container. On average, repotting will be necessary every 2-5 years, but the tree should be removed from its container and its root system inspected once a year. If the roots form a circular ball around the perimeter of the pot, it is time to trim the roots and repot.

When repotting remember to:

  • Use only bonsai soil
  • Remove air pockets by working the soil down through the roots
  • Do not remove more that 20% of the root system
  • Repot during the appropriate repotting season
  • Water well and keep out of the sun for a week or two

Trimming & Pruning

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 continues its growth. Trimming is accomplished by using a sharp scissors or shears. This traditional tool is called butterfly shears 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 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. Some trees such as the Juniper should be trimmed by using the thumb and index finger to remove new growth and to prevent browning and a "sheared" appearance.

Pests & Diseases

As living trees, bonsai are susceptible to insect attacks and disease. Preventive and corrective measures include:

  • Keeping your bonsai in good health, since insects and bacteria tend to attack weak trees
  • Giving your tree ample light, fresh air and ventilation
  • Keeping the soil free of spent blooms and fallen leaves etc. 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.

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