Are Bonsai Trees Low Maintenance?

Bonsai trees are relatively low maintenance once they are grown. The actual act of growing a bonsai tree requires a tremendous amount of patience, almost three years of your time to cultivate it from seed to sapling. If you are taking care of a grown bonsai tree, it is easier with some light upkeep.

Bonsai trees are an absolute joy to have around your home and are one of the most desirable styles of plants out there. The actual act of growing a bonsai tree is one of the most magical things in botany, however, owning one, in general, is just as enchanting.

All in all, you should not have too much of a problem maintaining your bonsai tree. It will require some work here and there and a whole lot of observing over time, but nothing anyone who has owned a houseplant or two in their lives cannot handle. Read on to find out what it takes.

Maintaining Your Bonsai Tree

Bonsai trees do not require a ton of maintenance. However, they are not on the “set it and forget it” level of small succulents either. You will have to get your hands dirty, checking the roots every now and then and observing how much water it is regularly getting. To focus on the basics:

  • Pick a good place for your bonsai tree to grow
  • Properly watering your bonsai tree
  • Feeding your bonsai tree
  • Repotting and root management

These might look like some intimidating instructions to follow; however, the only thing it will cost is some of your time. Bonsai trees are not known to completely take over your life outside of having a fun obsession. Most of these things are what you do with your household plants as it is anyway.

Besides, it will be a lot of fun to take the next step and learn a new skill while also nurturing a timeless plant in your garden.

Bonsai Tree Placement

You may think you know exactly where to put your bonsai tree, but there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Is this spot particularly hot? Does it get enough sunlight? Will it be protected from rain or snow if you live in an area that gets all four seasons? You get the idea; it is much more complicated than merely pointing at a place in your yard and deciding that is where it will go.

Take notes of areas you are thinking about putting in your bonsai tree. Factors like temperature, humidity, precipitation, and access to sunlight all play major roles in your bonsai tree’s growth.

This will require some foresight. However, you should not need more than a thermometer or another device to record everything you need to scout out a location. 

Another huge factor is whether your bonsai tree is either an inside tree or an outdoor tree. You can usually tell by the species; a Ficus, for example, requires more humidity and should be kept indoors.

Outdoor trees rely more on the natural seasonal cycle. Remember, bonsai is not the species; it is the act in which you grow a previously existing species. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

Watering Your Bonsai Tree

Watering Your Bonsai Tree

Watering your bonsai tree is a little bit more complicated than watering other plants. You cannot simply water it routinely or just blindly water it whenever you feel like it needs it.

Watering a bonsai tree does not even really feel like watering a bonsai tree when you think about it, but on the contrary, it makes a huge difference. The soil itself is a special blend of rocks and dirt that make sure water gets exactly where it needs to.

Now, you might be wondering why you would not routinely water your bonsai tree. Surely it seems counterintuitive to water it randomly throughout the day, right? Wrong. You simply cannot overwater your bonsai as it will cause the roots to rot out by drowning in pooled water in the pot. 

What you will want to do is check the soil regularly. Literally, stick your finger about half an inch into the soil and check how dry it is. If it is dry, it is time to water your bonsai tree.

If it is moist, then you can wait. Every bonsai tree is different, so be sure to do your homework while you are figuring out a healthy water regimen. 

Properly Fertilize Your Bonsai Tree

This should go without saying, but your bonsai tree cannot only rely on sunlight and water to stay healthy – especially during the growing season. Luckily, there are special fertilizers for bonsai trees that will help keep your bonsai growing strong.

You will want a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, otherwise known as NPK. NPK is the most common form of fertilizer, so you should be able to find it just about anywhere.

Nitrogen affects the leaves and the stems above ground, phosphorus affects the roots, and potassium just helps with every aspect of your tree’s health.

It is important to use fertilizer throughout the growing season. It is not a difficult task, just sprinkle it in and let the soil absorb it.

For bonsai trees, this is a required task due to the fact that all of the roots are compact and in a pot. Unlike normal trees, bonsai trees cannot extend their roots further underground to feed on natural minerals and other nutrients straight from the source. So do not be shy; feed your bonsai tree.

Repotting And Managing Your Bonsai Tree’s Roots

Repotting And Managing Your Bonsai Tree’s Roots

Repotting is a common theme when it comes to bonsai tree maintenance. As your bonsai tree continues to grow, you will find that it may start to look dehydrated or otherwise dry.

This is not a sign of old age; your bonsai tree is probably just outgrowing its pot. You should immediately move your tree into a new container, or it will die.

If you think something is wrong, the first thing you should do is check the roots. Pull the bonsai tree out of its container and take a look underneath to see how the roots look.

What happens is the roots are outgrowing the current container and choking themselves out. If the roots look like they are growing in circles around each other, then it is time to do some cutting so fresh roots can take over, and your tree can grow properly.

After cutting the old, dry roots out, it is time to move your bonsai tree into a bigger pot. You do not want to choose too big of a pot, however, just something that will allow it to grow over the course of several years.

You should be monitoring the roots fairly regularly, especially if you suspect that they may be the cause of something unhealthy that is happening to your bonsai tree.

Recommended Article: How to Protect Bonsai in Winter

Conclusion

Bonsai trees require more patience than they do maintenance. The regular day-to-day work that is required of a gardener to nurture a healthy bonsai tree is pretty routine when compared to how you would take care of any other plants. There are big differences, such as root monitoring, but at the end of the day, the same principles apply.

If you are the type of person who does not have a lot of downtime or the ability to take lots of notes to record the progress of your more demanding plant life, then a bonsai tree probably is not for you.

They do not require 24-hour attention. However, they do require a certain attention to detail. Regardless of how green your thumb is, there just is not anything quite like a bonsai tree.

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