Growing bonsai trees can be a relaxing hobby. However, for those just starting out, there are a lot of questions regarding proper care regimens.
These can seem daunting. Once you understand how often to prune and water your bonsai, however, the rest will fall into place easily. The variety of bonsai available allows individuals to pick the perfect bonsai for their lifestyle and location.
Besides watering needs, there are a few other key factors new bonsai enthusiasts should consider. Decide if the bonsai will be an indoor, outdoor, or indoor and outdoor plant, ensure that the plant has adequate lighting requirements, and then choose a pruning style.
Read on to learn more about how long bonsai can go without water and how to properly care for your bonsai tree.
Bonsai Watering Needs
Due to the diversity of bonsai species, a watering spectrum exists for these plants. Some bonsai trees thrive even when becoming very dry between watering and others prefer to stay consistently damp.
No one rule holds for the best bonsai watering schedule. The needs of each specific tree will drive its watering cycle.
Checking your bonsai’s soil’s moisture level frequently is the best method to determine its watering needs. Using a specific watering schedule can lead one to miss signs that the bonsai is getting too dried out or that it already has enough water.
A quick check with your finger can tell you the moisture level of the soil.
Some bonsai will be more tolerant of drying out between waterings. These species are a better match for growers who may have to travel or be away for several days at a time.
Other varieties are higher maintenance, requiring watering every day or every few days.
Bonsai That Prefer Drier Conditions
For the bonsai enthusiast with little time on their hands, several good bonsai choices exist. Additionally, many of the bonsai on this list tend to be hardier in general. This makes them the ideal choice for a beginning bonsai gardener.
Although the bonsai listed below are hardy, it does not mean that they lack anything visually. Many of these are some of the more popular species. They can be pruned and trained into several interesting patterns.
- Dwarf Jade: This variety of jade is one of the better options for someone who wants a less needy bonsai.
- Juniper: Another species that tolerates drying out a bit between waterings is the Juniper. Its hardiness makes the juniper bonsai a good option for novice growers with many foliage choices available.
- Chinese Elm: Chinese Elms also like their soil a little dry before watering. The hardiness of the Chinese elm and its ability to withstand drying out make it a great option for growers with a busy life schedule.
- Pine Trees: Several varieties of pine trees are excellent choices for bonsai enthusiasts. Pines will do well drying out slightly between waterings. It is not, however, drought-tolerant, so it should not dry out completely between waterings.
- Cedars: Cedar is another species that prefers to dry out a bit between watering. Although this species is popular with bonsai growers, it is fussier in several care areas. It is, therefore, not the best choice for beginners.
The species above offer many options for bonsai gardeners who need a bonsai with less needy water requirements. Keep in mind that, even with bonsai that are less needy for water, it is not a good idea to let them dry out completely.
For bonsai enthusiasts who look forward to spending more time with their plants or who have flexible schedules, there are even more choices available below.
Bonsai That Prefer Frequent Watering
In the category of bonsai that prefer more frequent waterings, a great deal of variability exists. There are bonsai that prefer their soil moist at all times. Other bonsai below may require moist soil and a good misting between drinks.
Summer months may require even more frequent waterings, as the bonsai can dry out quickly. Use the soil moisture test to make sure that the soil is moist, not wet, from the topsoil beyond the tip of your finger. If it feels dry, water. Keep a spray bottle handy to keep the mist-loving bonsai happy.
- Weeping Fig: The weeping fig requires more regular watering as it likes its soil moist. It does not do well on either side of the watering spectrum, thus it needs to be monitored frequently to check the soil moisture level.
- Japanese Maple: Well-known for its vibrantly colored foliage, the Japanese maple is a needy bonsai. It prefers almost daily watering and is more high maintenance in this regard than many of the other options highlighted here.
- Dwarf Umbrella: The dwarf umbrella likes its soil moist, but it will tolerate getting slightly dry occasionally. The dwarf umbrella needs to be misted every few days, making it needier than the bonsai options in the section above.
- Japanese Flowering Cherry: A beautiful bonsai option, the Japanese flowering cherry likes its soil moist. Additionally, this species also likes to be misted.
- Snow rose: A pretty flowering bonsai choice, the snow rose should have consistently moist soil. Similar to other species in this section, it also enjoys misting.
For individuals with more time flexibility, bonsai that need frequent watering and misting are an excellent choice. The time spent caring for and shaping these plants allows for creativity and time away from daily stress.
Bonsai Watering and Location
Watering is one of the areas to consider when starting to grow bonsai. However, another important decision to make centers on growing location.
Some bonsai are great indoor plants, while others will thrive when they spend at least some time outdoors. You must tailor your watering not only to the species’ general needs but also to their environmental factors.
To grow bonsai inside, adequate lighting and temperature are important factors to consider. Bonsai species that originate in warmer climates tend to do best inside as they can tolerate the consistently warmer indoor temperatures.
Access to lighting is key here as even a drought-tolerant bonsai may need more lighting than available inside. Bonsai that are exposed to lots of heat will likely dry out and need more frequent watering.
Raising a bonsai outside will depend greatly on the regional climate.
- The pomegranate bonsai is not frost-tolerant, thus it needs to be brought inside in moderate climates with cold winter months.
- The Japanese flowering cherry does well inside but needs more direct light. It flourishes when it spends the summer months outside.
Knowing the needs of one’s bonsai species will lead to a successful growing experience.
Additional Care Requirements for Bonsai
In addition to the needs mentioned above, bonsai have a few more care requirements. Among these are potting soil, pot selection, and fertilizer.
Gardeners can create their own mix or there are ready-made ones available online. Potting soil for bonsai needs to be well-drained. Soil mixture often includes pumice, gravel, and akadama, a hard clay-like substance.
Fertilizing needs range from feeding a couple of times per month in summer to once a month in fall and winter. Several mixes are available for purchase online, many specifically formulated in liquid or pellet form for bonsai trees.
Pot choice is part of the creative bonsai process. Pick out a pot that flows with the bonsai. The pot is part of the overall aesthetic of the bonsai and should be chosen accordingly, with several options available online.
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Raising bonsai trees can lead to a lifetime hobby filled with relaxing creativity. The first step to practicing bonsai is evaluating one’s resources and environment. Once the growing location is chosen, assessing the bonsai needs and the owner’s lifestyle is next.
The variety of bonsai options means new bonsai enthusiasts can match the watering needs of the bonsai to their lifestyle restrictions. Several choices exist that are drought-friendly, handling drying out between watering with ease.
Bonsai in this category are the perfect match for those whose life demands require them to be away from home. Whatever one’s lifestyle, the perfect bonsai match is waiting.