On a recent UK vacation, I bought a Bonsai tree and brought it home with me. Unfortunately, it didn't fair too well because of my neglect. Since then I've bought another and taken a lot more care of it. I've also researched into Bonsai trees quite a lot, especially how to care for them, and I've put some of my findings below.
Bonsai have different watering needs at different times of the year. To keep your bonsai healthy, your watering habits may need to change with the seasons. This is particularly true in winter when bonsai go dormant. Dormancy is a rest period for trees characterized by reduced metabolism and suspended growth. Most conifers and broadleaf evergreens retain their foliage when they are dormant, whereas deciduous trees lose their leaves.
Bonsai experiencing winter dormancy may need water only once a week. In summer, the same tree may need water every day. It’s common for bonsai to need more water on hot days, windy days, or during times of the year when the tree is growing quickly. Bonsai that are weak or unhealthy typically require less water.
Checking the soil regularly is the best way to ensure that your tree is getting the right amount of water throughout the year. If your bonsai wilts on days you don’t water, try watering more frequently.
Here are signs that your bonsai needs more water:
- The foliage wilts.
- Leaves become dry and crispy.
It may come as a surprise to learn that watering trees too frequently is just as problematic as not watering frequently enough. Roots growing in waterlogged soil may die because they can’t absorb the oxygen they need. To prevent overwatering, make sure the soil is partially dry before you water.
Water early in the day to prepare your bonsai for the afternoon heat and to give the soil and foliage time to dry before evening.
Good drainage is important for all bonsai. If it takes more than a minute for water to drain through the soil when you water, consider repotting the tree at the next available opportunity.