Golden rules for growing indoor bonsai
Bonsai can not be called just indoor or garden plants. These are objects of art, living sculptures, the embodiment of a whole philosophy that cannot be measured by the same standards as ordinary plants and even the rarest collectible cultures. A special approach should be to grow bonsai. After all, these plants require a completely non-standard treatment. They not only embody philosophy, but also require dedication and peace from their masters. Caring for a bonsai is not easy, but the pleasure is very special.
Bonsai - plants are not for everyone. They discover a new philosophy in front of their masters and reveal the essence of oriental worldviews, and most importantly - they make us take a fresh look at communication with wildlife and human-plant relations. To purchase a bonsai you need not just decide, but weigh all the pros and cons. After all, they will not suit those gardeners who often travel and love simple care. Bonsai need to be dealt with constantly, sometimes for proper care you have to look for a creative approach, and some procedures are very specific. With such a pet will have to abandon the rush and fuss. And when they say that for bonsai you need to grow spiritually yourself, do not exaggerate. But if even a small bonsai was presented to you, or if you succumbed to a temporary impulse and became its owner almost by accident, most likely the plants will open for you a whole new world and make you love yourself with all your heart and forever.
Bonsai is the art of not only creating a small copy of nature, applying centuries-old traditions of the special formation of trees and bushes, but also the special art of caring for plants. Handling bonsai in the same way as with any other indoor plant is simply impossible. You will not only not succeed, but will negate many years of work by your traditional appeal to him. Bonsai differ among themselves in the complexity of the required care and in fact need an individual approach no less than any other indoor culture. But personalization of care is the only thing that bonsai cultivation has in common with ordinary indoor floriculture.
The most unpretentious and easiest to grow are considered to be bonsai from olive trees and testudinaria. Complex care, if possible, to grow plants in ordinary living rooms will require tea tree and elm trees. The rest of the plants - carmona, euonymus, podocarpus, ficus, ligustrum, etc. - need a mandatory place in the fresh air in the warm season.
When buying a bonsai, be prepared for the fact that you have to learn a lot. Most care procedures require special skills, training, listening to the inner voice. With bonsai you need to trust intuition - and constantly study the world of this amazing art. If you want to succeed, more often engage in self-education, attend master classes, do not hesitate to ask experts.
Comfortable conditions and need for fresh air
We can only talk about some conditions that are comfortable for all bonsai. After all, each type of tree and shrub used to create a bonsai partially retains its individual preferences. The most comfortable for these living works of art is the average, restrained temperature of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius in the active phase of growth. Almost all bonsai need cooler maintenance in the winter. If you keep the usual room temperature and do not lower their value by at least 2-3 degrees, the reduction of light will lead to problems with their health. The minimum temperature is limited to 10 degrees for conifers and 12-14 degrees for other types of bonsai.
Lighting for these plants is selected purely individually. Most bonsai feel great in diffused bright light, but the ability to grow in a sunny place or in partial shade is worth checking for each plant separately. In winter, any kind of bonsai will not give up bright lighting, and if you compensate for the conditions of seasonal features, you can achieve amazing results.
Among bonsai there are many varieties that sell mainly as purely indoor plants. But still, most of these living objects of art prefer fresh air and are much less comfortable indoors. Noble and expensive plants in the warm season only with gratitude will respond to accommodation on the balcony, terrace or in the recreation area - where they can "breathe enough". When buying a bonsai, be sure to check whether the plant is used to such a summer regimen and how it relates to airing and drafts. But for most bonsai, you still need to select protected places and more stable conditions.
Watering and humidity
The vast majority of wood used to make bonsai are sensitive to humidity. It will be very difficult to maintain the attractiveness of forms and greenery in these plants without measures to increase air humidity. Installation of special humidifier devices is ideal, but you can increase air humidity by placing water plates and spraying (tolerance for the latter should be checked for each type of plant separately).
Watering for bonsai requires much more effort than for ordinary plants. The flat shape of the tanks determines the schedule of more frequent procedures. There are no general requirements for irrigation and their frequency in bonsai plants, but it is important to never forget about one rule: drying of the roots for a bonsai should never be allowed. Drought is fatal to these valuable plants. But soil acidification is also unacceptable. Stable light or medium humidity - these are the conditions in which most bonsai will feel comfortable. For the cold season, watering is reduced (for deciduous bonsai, it is minimized, and for evergreens, the substrate moisture is halved), while also preventing the substrate from completely drying out.
Bonsai is watered most often with the classic "top" method. But there is one “but”: such plants prefer watering with a spray nozzle. It is necessary to resort to water dispersion so that the water is distributed more evenly over a wide tank. An alternative method of irrigation is to immerse the container with a larger container of water to saturate the substrate, followed by the complete draining of “free” water.
The feeding regimen should be clarified when buying a plant. A scheme with fertilizer application only during the stage of active vegetation with a frequency of 1 time in 2 weeks is considered classical. In the middle of summer, you can make a “pass” to stop the growth of shoots and improve lignification. Top dressing does not stop even in winter (only for evergreen bonsai), but it does fertilize with a frequency of 1 time in 6 weeks and halves the usual dosage.
Special fertilizers are selected for bonsai (they are produced by both companies specialized in this art and the best known fertilizer manufacturers with a wide range of preparations).
Trimming and shaping bonsai
While for most indoor plants regular pruning and shaping is rarely considered a necessary condition for growing, for bonsai pruning is a vital condition for maintaining attractiveness. In order for a living work of art to remain such, it is necessary to periodically shorten the branches, remove unnecessary shoots, carry out pinching and other formation. Each bonsai species has its own pruning requirements, but overall the pruning strategy directly depends on the growth rate. Slow-growing plants are carefully cleaned once or twice a year, keeping them in shape. Fast-growing need to be controlled and formed more often, every few weeks, from spring to autumn.
The rules for trimming bonsai are very simple. In such plants, as a rule, they try to leave only 6 pairs of leaves on each shoot, ruthlessly removing all unnecessary. The upper part of the bonsai is always cut more strongly, not forgetting, like with any other houseplant, to remove all damaged, dry, growing down or inward, overly stretched branches. For bonsai, it is important to thin out too thickly growing leaves in a timely manner. But just trimming is obtained only in words. Miniature plants require such a special approach, are so difficult to trim that considerable skills and imagination are needed here. And making mistakes is much easier than achieving success. For the first time, it’s better to contact a specialist and visit a master class, find out all the necessary information in specialized centers. Only after acquiring skills and mastering the technique, decide to start cropping.
The formation of shoots and trunks, giving them "artificial" curvatures and directions is a difficult and extraordinary task. For bonsai, the formation is carried out thanks to the wire (use anodized copper or aluminum, always thick wire). With its help, the rotations of the trunk or branches are fixed, giving them shape, direction and angles. They carry out the formation by winding the wire from the bottom up, literally rewinding the trunk and branches with it, and then directing their growth. But finding a balance between sufficient compression and non-injury is very difficult. Yes, and you need to remove the wire in a timely manner: after the plant "goes" in a given direction, but not before the film grows into the bark.
When working with bonsai, you need to use disinfected sharp tools. For the treatment of wounds, it is advisable to purchase special balm for wounds. A set of special tools suitable for each type of pruning and specific work with bonsai can be found today in flower shops and on specialized resources. Miniature delimbers and scissors of various shapes, brushes and miniature tweezers, pitchforks and tweezers help to do almost jewelry work. If there are no special tools, try using new and sanitized manicure tools.
On sale, you can also find special tools for artificial aging, decoration, changing the color of the bark, etc. With their help enhance the attractiveness of the plant and achieve greater expressiveness.
Transplant, containers and substrate
Bonsai are grown in special flat bowls, in which the depth is many times less than the width. When choosing, you need to pay attention to the fact that the volume of the container must exceed the volume of the roots, and most often there should be at least one hole for the outflow of water. There is not much soil in such a bowl, especially since a large percentage of the free space in the tank is occupied by drainage and mulch. And accordingly, bonsai has to be transplanted much more often than would be desirable - once every 2-3 years.
Bonsai, like all indoor tree and shrubs, it is better to transplant at the beginning of the stage of active growth - in the spring. But there are certain types of plants, for example, the large-leaved podocarpus, which prefers transplanting not in spring but in autumn. Carefully check all information before purchasing.
Proper substrate selection is critical for these plants. For bonsai, use a special purchased substrate with a permeable structure, high in clay and sand. It is difficult to independently verify the water permeability and air permeability of the soil, so we recommend using special soil for bonsai.
Just as the aboveground part of the plants was formed in a special way, its rhizome, which is restrained and trimmed, is quite surprisingly formed. When transplanting, roots are usually shortened to prevent overgrowth and free up space in a small container. Trimming rhizomes optimizes the absorption of nutrients and thickens the crown. A layer of large drainage is necessarily laid at the bottom of the tank. The substrate is completely replaced with a new and fresh one, and the plant is carefully strengthened, slightly squeezed in the soil and using stones or pebbles to stabilize if necessary.
Bonsai are almost never grown with bare soil. For these plants, the method of decorative mulching is actively used: the substrate is covered with pebbles, stone chips, sphagnum or other decorative materials. Such a coating is selected so as to achieve the greatest decorative effect and expressiveness.
Do not do without prevention
Healthy, with an ideal form, able to bloom or delight with luxurious bonsai leaves, as we see it in stores and bring home, needs constant prevention. To prevent both diseases and the spread of pests is much easier than fighting them on these special plants. Reduces the risk of bonsai damage using only disinfected tools, maintaining comfortable temperatures and lighting, and controlling humidity. Watering and fertilizing should not be excessive and scarce, and plants that prefer fresh air should receive it as much as possible. But the main guarantee of success is constant inspections. You need to monitor the leaves and branches, check them for signs of unwanted problems, immediately remove damaged and diseased leaves and shoots, and also check the condition of the roots.