One of the most popular types of bonsai plants is the azalea bonsai. It produces beautiful flowers when fully bloomed and grows well in a pot.
They are members of the Rhododendron genus family, which comprises around 1,000 species, and the azaleas in particular are admired for their remarkable flowers that bloom each spring.
Although you really do not need to repot the azalea bonsai until you have had it for two years, you do need to take certain steps during this phase to make sure it is repotted correctly.
By taking the proper steps, you will ensure your azalea will bloom radiant colors to brighten up any room or outdoor living area. Read on to find out how to repot Azalea bonsai.
Repot Your Azalea Bonsai Every Two Years
Azalea bonsai plants only need to be repotted every two years in the spring or after they are flowering. When repotting, make sure you choose a soil that is lime-free for your delicate plant, such as pure Kanuma.
Kanuma is from the region of Japan that bears its name and is exceptional at retaining moisture and helps roots grow into a root ball.
Kanuma is perfect for the bonsai in that the plant needs well-permeable soil because azalea bonsais root through the pot fast and if the roots do not have the proper porous atmosphere, the root growth and later the roots themselves will suffer.
Azaleas also prefer a slightly acidic soil content, so you could add some peat to the potting mixture.
If you decide to repot your azalea bonsai before the tree flowers, you will need to remove all the flower buds before repotting or risk placing additional strain on your plant.
You will also need to prune the roots carefully since they grow so robustly but are very thin, tangled, and can tear easily when trying to separate them before repotting.
The first step to repotting is removing the fixation wire using a bonsai wire cutter that should be around the root ball (if the bonsai was properly potted).
If your azalea bonsai does not have fixation wire, you should worry about whether it was professionally potted when you first purchased the bonsai plant. Then there are specific repotting steps.
The Steps for Repotting Azalea Bonsai
Once you use a bonsai wire cutter to remove the fixation wire, you will then need to remove the old bonsai soil using a root claw that has two or three times the delicate bonsai roots. Depending on how long your azalea bonsai has been in the original pot, you may also need to clean moss out of the roots and on the base of the trunk.
You may need to use a more durable bonsai cutter to remove the tougher roots in the root area that are no longer needed. Now you are ready to repot the azalea bonsai into a new pot using your fresh soil by taking the following steps:
- Place plastic potting mesh inside the new pot so that the bonsai soil does not dribble out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot
- Determine the position and potting depth of your azalea bonsai
- If necessary, shorten the root ball so that the plant can be deeper in the pot. Usually the bottom of the old root ball will need to be cut before repotting
- Fix the root ball of the azalea bonsai with bonsai wire and then pass this wire through the wire holes of the bonsai pot or drainage holes
- Fill in some Kanuma bonsai soil (or a similar soil with a low pH value) to better support the root ball
- Continue to incorporate the Kanuma bonsai substrate thoroughly between the roots using a thin stick
- Water the roots carefully and thoroughly just after the repotting
Some azalea bonsai owners do not like the dark brownish-yellowish color of Kanuma and apply a thin layer of a more attractive bonsai soil on top. In addition, note that the root cutting step is important if the bottom roots are thick and could cause rotting if it impedes air and drainage flow.
Where Should a Repotted Azalea Bonsai Be Placed?
You can keep your azalea bonsai outside as long as temperatures do not drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you keep your azalea bonsai in the house, they love sunny, bright areas of the home, but do not do well in the direct heat. Temperatures between 35 and 55 degrees are ideal since too much sun could damage the flowers and roots.
In addition to avoiding the hot sun, flowering azaleas should be shielded from rain and frost. A bright area of the home that is filtered from direct sunlight and has a cooler temperature is perfect for your azalea bonsai to thrive and grow.
Azaleas are also pretty tasty to pests, like rabbits and mice, so placement should be away from any creatures.
You should also place your azalea bonsai away from insects in that they are vulnerable to caterpillars, whiteflies, aphids, spider mites, and scale insects.
However, never spray your azalea bonsai with insecticides because it will cause the flowers on your already delicate plant to wilt and fall.
Finally, fungus could cause the roots to rot if the soil is too wet and compacted.
There are suitable fungicides that can be used in the soil to avoid this, but you will need to make sure it is appropriate for the delicate bonsai. The best way to handle this is to remove the galls as soon as the fungus is found to protect the azalea bonsai.
The Key to Watering Azalea Bonsai to Avoid Fungus
On one hand, your azalea bonsai cannot dry out and, if the root ball has gotten too dry, it will need to be dunked in water so that it gets thoroughly moistened.
On the other hand, these plants need to avoid permanent wetness but should be evenly moist at all times. You can water your plant once a day so that it is moist but not soggy.
If your azalea bonsai dries out too much, the fine, fibrous roots will not survive. Some other things to think about when watering your azalea bonsai so that you find that magic combination of moist but not soggy include:
- Avoid hard tap water and instead use either filtered or lime-free tap water or rain water
- Make sure the pot gives proper drainage so that you avoid developing rot in the root ball
- Water at least once a day throughout the growing season
- The plant should also be fed special fertilizer during the growing season weekly or every other week until the flowering phase is done
Once the flowering has begun, you can stop feeding your plant weekly with fertilizer during the blooming period. Afterwards, you only need to feed your azalea bonsai monthly to keep it healthy and get it ready to blossom the next season.
Because an azalea is basally dominant, meaning lower branches grow stronger than the top branches, you will need to prune the branches at the base harder than the more delicate areas on top.
After your azalea bonsai flowers, you may only need to pinch the wilted flowers by hand. Pruning and trimming will help new flower buds develop.
How Much Water Should You Give Your Bonsai Tree might be an interesting article for you!
Azalea bonsai plants are beautiful additions to any home, and with care can last a long time and develop brilliant flowers every spring.
You only need to repot your azalea bonsai plant every few years, and with proper watering and pruning it will be a staple in your home.