Do you know what the most common cause of death for bonsai trees is? Believe it or not, it is improper watering.
Most people think that watering should be the simplest of matters when, in fact, for bonsai trees at least, it is the most important thing that you can do and not do it correctly can kill your tree. In fact, improper watering kills more bonsai’s than anything else.
Bonsai trees root in special soil that is rather porous and has quick drainage. For this reason the bonsai must be watered frequently, however, care must be taken to not overwater as standing water can cause fungus to grow and contribute to root rot.
Here’s some steps that you can take to avoid under watering or over watering your bonsai:
In order to determine if your bonsai needs water or not you must test the soil to see how moist it is. Touch the top of the soil with your finger and if it feels dry dig a little deeper to see how far the dryness extends. If you want a more precise method you can buy a moisture gauge which takes into the soil and will tell you what watering is needed.
It’s a good practice to set the container you’re bonsai is in into a buck of water so that water can be soaked up from the bottom about once every four weeks. let the water soak in for 20 minutes or so and then remove the pot. Be sure to always lift by the container and never by the trunk of the tree.
Your container should have a drainage hole in the bottom and a tray underneath to catch the excess water. If you find water pooling in the tray for too long you might want to make sure to remove the water so that it doesn’t collect from the roots causing rot and contributing to the buildup of mold.
When the bonsai is growing during the spring and summer you want to water daily making sure that water flows through the entire container and out the bottom but not so much that it is standing in water. You may actually have to water more than once a day depending on the soil in your climate as well as the species of tree. In the fall and winter when growth has slowed you will not need to water so much.
Some types of bonsai like flowering and deciduous trees need more water and other types such as conifers need a bit less. You’ll need to experiment to find out what the right amount of water for your bonsai is. Be on the lookout for wilting flowers and curled leaves which can indicate lack of water and adjust accordingly