Care Of Bonsai Trees - Three Tips To Keep Your Tree Alive

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					There is nothing particularly hard about the growing and care of bonsai trees, but they
do require constant care in order to thrive.

Like all plants bonsai require soil, water and light. The trick in providing the proper
care of bonsai tree is ensuring they get just the right amount of these crucial elements.
While it's not difficult it does require a little specialist knowledge and without the
proper application of that knowledge your bonsai will probably very quickly die.

Many beginners to the care of bonsai trees make the mistake of thinking a bonsai is a
pot plant and therefore treat it in the same manner they would an indoor plant.
However a bonsai, while it is housed in a pot, is not really an indoor plant. It is a
miniaturized tree and as such thrives best in the same conditions as a normal tree of
the same variety. Most bonsai therefore prefer to be outdoors, however it does depend
on where you live and what kind of climate your tree is suited to.

In order to provide the best care of bonsai trees you need to do some research to
determine the conditions that best suit your particular variety of tree. If you live in an
area where it snows during winter, leaving a tree outside is fine, and probably best, if
your tree has been adapted by nature to those conditions [such as a fir or juniper]. You
may not be doing your bonsai any favors by bringing it indoors for winter. However if
your bonsai is a more tropical plant, such as a bougainvillea, leaving it outside in even
a mild frost could prove fatal. Check exactly what conditions are native to your
particular tree and find a position which produces the closest match.

Watering:

Another very crucial factor in the care of bonsai trees is watering. Bonsai trees have
very little root systems and therefore require frequent watering. You may not need to
water every day, but you should make a daily check of the moisture content of the soil
in your bonsai pot. If the soil gets too dry your tree will begin to lose leaves and, if
left completely dry for several days, it will quickly begin to die. Conversely, if the soil
is constantly kept too damp it can lead to root rot which can also kill your tree.

One easy way to check the moisture level is to poke a small stick, like a toothpick or
chop stick, into the soil. It may be dry on the surface of the pot but still contain
moisture around the roots. You may find you need to water your tree several times a
day during a hot summer but leave it without for days, weeks or possibly even months
during the winter.

It is also a good idea to occasionally ensure the roots get a good soaking by popping
the bonsai pot in a tray of water. Do not, however leave it in too long and also ensure
your pot has plenty of drainage holes to allow excess water to run out.

Finding the right balance can be a matter of trial and error but one handy little trick is
to get used to judging the weight of your tree, pot and soil. About one quarter of the
weight should be water, so if your pot is feeling lighter than normal it is probably time
to give it a drink.

Soil:

You can use any good quality potting soil for your bonsai, though it must be free
draining. However some garden centers and specialist shops sell special soil mixes to
provide extra specical care of bonsai trees. These mixtures are generally freer draining
than general potting mix and contain less fertilizer to fuel plant growth. The soil in
your pot will need to be changed at least every two years, and is generally done when
you repot the tree.

Light:

Your bonsai should be kept out of direct sunlight, particularly harsh afternoon light.
But again, each variety of tree prefers slightly different conditions and you should try
to emulate its natural habitat as much as possible. Because plants naturally grow
towards the light, it is a good idea to turn your plant regularly so that all sides get an
equal amount.

As I stated at the beginning, there is nothing particularly difficult about the care of
bonsai trees but, like a newborn baby, they need constant and tender attention.
Learning through trial and error can produce disastrous results. It's much simpler, and
cheaper, to arm yourself with a little knowledge first.

				
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posted:1/20/2011
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