Growing Bonsai: Tips for Beginners

Many people started growing plants to fill an empty corner in their yards. Stores often have a wide variety of trees to choose from. It’s not an easy decision. One option you might want to consider is growing bonsai trees. Bonsais can make a beautiful display. Growing them is also a fun and relaxing hobby. There are no special powers required to make a bonsai, just a bit of knowledge and enough time to care for them. Here are some tips from a bonsai enthusiast to get you started!

Tip 1: How to keep your tree mini

Scissors are the secret weapon to turn a tree into a miniature version of its potential. The trick to keeping the tree small is to continually cut back shoots as they grow. As a general rule, let a shoot grow to four or five sets of leaves and then cut it back to two. Each time you cut back a shoot, there is a good chance it will branch into two. Wait until those two shoots grow out and then cut them back to two sets of leaves. Do that again and again and soon there’ll be lots of little branches. Just keep in mind that to mimic real trees, you should aim for shorter node lengths (the distance between branch off points) the closer you get to the outside of the tree.

old man trimming bonsai

Tip 2: Sunbathe and rotate sides

As tempting as it may be to keep a bonsai inside so it can be shown off to guests, most species flourish with lots of sun.They can be displayed inside for a day or two here and there, but make their home in a sunny spot in the yard. For even growth, rotate the tree every few weeks so that sun gets on all sides. Otherwise, one side may look healthy while the other side looks sparse.

bonsai tree with yellow leaves

Tip 3: Read the soil

Bonsai soil dries up pretty quickly. There’s only so much water a small pot can hold. It may only take a few hot, dry days without water for a bonsai to wither and die, taking with it years of work and a piece of your heart. The key is to water the bonsai after the soil has mostly dried up but before It’s completely dry. Never let the soil completely dry out or it won’t last long. But allowing it to dry out a bit is necessary to prevent root rot, which is fungi growing in the root system. Root rot can occur when the soil is constantly damp. Watering daily is probably a reasonable place to start but try and read the soil rather than sticking to a strict time-based watering schedule.

Tip 4: Repot and trim the roots every year

Roots can quickly outgrow a small pot. If the roots take up too much space, there won’t be enough room for the soil and the tree won’t be able to absorb enough nutrients. To make sure there is enough room for the roots to grow, repot the tree every year and trim off about a third of the root mass during each repot. Mix in some slow release fertiliser into well drained soil and you’re ready for another season. The time to repot deciduous trees is when the leaf buds swell before buds open. For evergreens, research the specific variety to find the recommended time to repot.

Tip 5: Let your bonsai grow in free spirit

The quickest way to an old looking bonsai is to develop a nice thick trunk and to grow lots and lots of little branches at the outside of the tree. Having lots of little branches also helps make the leaves smaller too. The way to thicken the trunk is to let the tree grow. So let the top of the tree or a particular branch you want to thicken grow long. Yeah, it’ll look funny for a while, but you can chop it back after it thickens up.

bonsai tree

Tip 6: Be patient with the growth

After getting a bonsai, you may find yourself racing outside every few hours to see if it looks old yet. It’s going to take a while. Try and enjoy the process. Photo journalling is a great way to see progress over time. It won’t be until looking back over old photos that you realise how much they’ve grown and developed.

Tip 7:Get tooled up

To get started, you’ll probably need bonsai scissors, a branch cutter, some cut paste and some wire (a selection ranging from 1mm to 5mm in thickness). It’s worth going for quality. Japanese manufactured bonsai equipment is highly regarded. Although you can probably get away with using normal scissors for a little while, the benefits of bonsai scissors are the clean cuts especially on the roots during repotting. A clean cut will be more likely to generate new root branches. And a clean branch cut with quality branch cutters will heal over faster and more attractively.

tools for maintaining bonsai tree

Tip 8: Find some buddies

If you want to get into this bonsai thing, why not join a group or attend some classes to learn more? Discussing with others is a great way to learn and get solutions for problems in your area. Also, since bonsais are so needy, it can be hard to leave them on their own for any length of time which means it’s difficult to get away. A bonsai buddy may be willing to care for your bonsais while you tick off those travel goals.

So now you have another option to fill up that vacant patch of yard. If you could imagine yourself crafting some beautiful miniature trees and you have the ability to give them the attention and care they need, why not grow a bonsai? If you are interested in knowing other options for renovating your garden, connect with a local gardener or local arborist for more information.

Author Bio

Andrew works at Oneflare as an Android Developer He loves writing, mountain bike riding, and surfing. Oneflare is Australia’s fastest growing online marketplace connecting consumers with experts within the home improvement and services categories.

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