Here are 5 simple starter tips to get you on your way and help you with your bonsai tree. Even the most caring person can mean well but make mistakes. It is better to get a bit of knowledge under your belt before undertaking a new challenge such as a bonsai.
1. Most bonsai are outdoor plants. All too often the mistake is made that because it is a bonsai it should be kept indoors. Only if it is a tropical tree it should be kept indoors. Tropical trees are notoriously more difficult to take care of than native trees. I recommend therefore starting off with outdoor native trees as they are much more easy to take care of.
2. Bonsai can get stressed. Another main reason that your first bonsai can die is that it can easily get stressed just like humans can. Stress is usually caused by moving it around a lot so that it’s confused about how hot it is or humid. Remember that it is totally unnatural for a tree to move around! When you first bring your tree home and place it in it’s new spot it might lose a few leaves from the move. Do not worry too much and respond by moving it around some more! This will not help the cause, it needs to get used to it’s new spot.
3. Bonsai need light. This one might seem quite obvious to most people but getting the amount of light is crucial to success. As a general rule leafy trees need to be kept in semi-shade and needle trees need to be kept in full sun. Indoor bonsai can get very hot left next to a window, try not to put them in direct sunlight.
4. Bonsai need water. Another one where most people will shout “Of course they do!”. But again it is something that needs to be done just right. The soil in the bonsai pot should be gritty and free draining so that it is not too wet and causes root rot. At the same time it should not be allowed to dry out too much and make the tree wilt.
5. Bonsai need food. This is not such an obvious one and something that most people neglect. Because they are kept in pots we need to remember that they do not have any dead plant matter to feed on and the soil that they are in can get drained of nutrients. To solve this there are a number of different ways to feed the tree. I personally use a liquid feed once every 2 weeks to keep them strong and healthy. However there are other methods that you can use and don’t have to implement so often.
If you follow these 5 simple tips I can pretty much guarantee that you have success with your bonsai for years to come. The hardest step is keeping your first one alive long enough to learn more specialized techniques which will come later on. If the worst should happen and it does die, don’t fret too much. Some are notoriously harder than others to take care of and even experts find it a struggle to maintain them.