General Bonsai Care
Inside versus Outside: While some plants can tolerate low light and dry indoor air more than others…all plants do better outdoors in natural light with more humid conditions. Even placement on a lanai would be better than indoors.
Watering: Bonsai, for the most part, should be kept moist, but not soggy. Since most trees are grown in a special bonsai potting mix, they may need to be watered every day in the heat of the summer…and perhaps even twice per day if it is unusually hot and dry. As a general rule, the smaller the pot, the more often it will need water. As in nature, some plants like bougainvillea and some succulents require less water than others while others like buttonwoods and cypress may require more.
Light: Again, each type of tree will have individual needs for light. Early morning sun is generally good for bonsai. However, full sun all day can be lethal, particularly to trees in small pots. Some plants will prefer more light, but all trees should be rotated for balanced growth. In the middle of a typical Florida summer, you must keep an eye on all bonsai trees.
Pests: You will treat bonsai as you would any other potted plant in terms of pest control. That being said…know your tree…malathion is toxic to buttonwoods, one of our favorite tropical bonsai materials. There are some new pests on the scene such as Chilli Thrips and Spiraling White Fly that require very complex and specific treatments.
Fertilization: During the growing season of March through November in Sarasota, bonsai will need to be fertilized every few weeks, but less often during the other months. There are many types of fertilizers, i.e. organic, timed release, water soluble, foliar feed, etc., and as you become familiar with bonsai you will be able to pick your favorite, or a combination of products.
Pruning: During the growing season, you will need to pinch or prune back much of the new growth to retain your tree’s shape and style. The old bonsai saying is that you should “thin the foliage so the birds can fly through it”.
Just remember to take the time to enjoy your bonsai. They can transport you to a quiet place away from the hurried pace of your normal routine. And….JOIN A BONSAI CLUB…where you will meet other enthusiasts who will be more than happy to share the love of bonsai with you.