The bonsai tree is a regular sized tree that is grown to a miniature size. The tree becomes a bonsai when it is pruned and stunted to grow into a size that is smaller than its true size. Most bonsai trees are grown indoors as the indoor environment is much more controlled and ideal during the winter months.
Choose a container for the bonsai. Select a container that not only meets the room’s decor but the plant’s requirements. Choose a container that provides ample growing space for the tree’s current size. Pick a container that has a depth that is equivalent or larger than the diameter of the bonsai’s trunk with a diameter at least one third the bonsai’s height. Make sure that the container includes an ample drainage system to allow excess water to exit the pot.
Plant the bonsai tree in nutrient rich soil that is moisture retentive. Promote the soil’s moisture retention by mixing the soil with equal amounts of peat compost and fine sand. Ensure that the sand is clean and has not been previously used. Line a layer of the soil mixture at the bottom of the container. Position the bonsai tree in the center of the container and fill the container with the remaining soil. Press the soil firmly but lightly around the base of the tree to secure its position.
Water the bonsai tree regularly but as needed. Pay close attention to the bonsai tree’s water needs and water according to those requirements. Bonsai trees require water based on the environment so the levels may change often. Irrigate the bonsai tree thoroughly and until the excess water begins to flow through the drainage holes.
Check the soil’s moisture levels prior to each watering to avoid over-watering. Place your finger in the soil approximately 1 to 2 inches deep. Water the tree only when the soil feels somewhat dry to dry. Never allow the tree to dry out completely but do not over-water as the tree cannot tolerate wet feet.
Place the bonsai in a warm area that provides at least four to six hours of partially shaded to full sunlight each day. Morning sunlight is ideal. Ensure that the chosen location is free from areas with direct heat, such as heating vents, stoves, grills, etc.
Feed the bonsai during its growing season. Use a well balanced, slow release fertilizer that includes nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Select a fertilizer such as a 6-6-6 or 10-10-10 combination. Apply the fertilizer monthly at half strength from early spring through mid to late fall.
Prune the bonsai tree’s foliage, stems and branches to promote the desired size and shape of the tree. Pinch back new growth, buds and shoots to promote miniature growth. Use sharp, sterile scissors or shears to cut branches and stems. Make cuts at an angle to promote rapid healing.
Repot the bonsai tree every one to two years. Prune the bonsai’s root system during the repotting process. Use sharp, sterile scissors to trim the system. Trim away more large roots than small, fibrous ones. Never prune away more than one third of the bonsai tree’s root system to avoid tree damage.