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1634 Stella St, Fort Worth, Texas | 817.534.3220

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Bonsai Care

Watering: The main reasons for a bonsai's destruction are over-frequency watering or scheduled watering instead of watering when necessary. So we strongly recommend the proper type of watering can (or watering wand for large collections) ; one with a long neck and a very fine rosette. This will generate enough force to drive the water down through the soil, dissolving fertilizer and pushing out the old air and sucking in fresh. We do not recommend regular nursery-style watering cans. The spray from these is just too heavy for bonsai. We have a sign posted in our store for beginners: "The first thing you will need for your bonsai is the proper watering can. The second is a book for the rest of the story."  An inexpensive book for beginners is "Bonsai 101". It will put a lot of information in your hands at a minimal cost. We see a very high success rate when beginners have these two things.

Sanderson Creek Bonsai Courtyard

 

 GENERAL CARE INSTRUCTIONS:

What we narrate below is the basic horticultural requirements for your tree. Bonsai is an intricate and studied art form. It is advisable to read as many books on the subject as possible, join a local bonsai society, and subscribe to ‘American Bonsai Society’ magazine and/or ‘Bonsai & Stone Appreciation Magazine’ in order to learn how to shape, style, prune, wire, etc. In doing so, we learn how to transform our tree-in-a-pot bonsai into the realm of art. Just letting the tree grow bigger and untrained is not the object of bonsai.
 
BONSAI -- You must pay attention to your bonsai's individual needs!
 
1.      IF YOU HAVE A TROPICAL/SUBTROPICAL (INDOOR) TREE:
 
a.      INDOORS YEAR ROUND B sunny/bright location for 8-10 hours (do not set directly on window sill, set it back 1-2 feet), avoid drafts, water with BonsaiPro mix in one of our watering cans with a microfine rosetteStrongly recommend fluorescent lamp 2-3 feet away 10-12 hours daily. Okay to mist moss and tree daily with water and/or K-L-N mix. Generally requires repotting every 2-3 years.

-- OR --

b.   INDOORS WHEN COLD (50° and below) and OUTDOORS WHEN WARM
 
(1)      When indoors: sunny/bright location for 8-10 hours (do not set directly on window sill, set it back 1-2 feet), avoid drafts, water with BonsaiPro mix in one of ourwatering cans with a microfine rosetteStrongly recommend fluorescent lamp 2-3 feet away 10-12 hours daily. Okay to mist moss and tree daily with water and/or K-L-N mix.
 
(2)      When outdoors: water with BonsaiPro mix in one of our watering cans with a microfine rosette every 1 to 3 days depending upon the season (extreme heat, may require watering at least once a day); mist with Neem Oil mix weekly; mist with Grow Juice weekly. Generally requires repotting every 2-3 years.
 
2.      IF  YOU  HAVE  AN EVERGREEN OR DECIDUOUS (OUTDOOR) TREE:
 
a.    EVERGREEN (softwood) - AM sun & PM shade; avoid windy locations; protect from summer and winter extremes; water with BonsaiPro mix in one of ourwatering cans with a microfine rosette every 1 to 3 days depending upon the season (extreme heat, may require watering at least once a day), but, during hot weather, water with Pro-Tekt mix in a proper watering container; mist with Grow Juice weekly. Place solid fertilizers on top of soil. During extreme heat, pines shut down so they may need only misting with water. Generally require repotting every 5-7 years.  Green mound junipers are recommended outdoors, however, we have had people tell us that they have successfully grown them indoors (but we don't recommend it).
 
b.   DECIDUOUS (hardwood) - AM sun & PM shade; avoid windy locations; protect from summer extremes; in winter, place in cold frame or unheated garage, water enough to keep moist then when tree awakes for spring with BonsaiPro mix in one of our watering cans with a microfine rosette every 1 to 3 days depending upon the season (extreme heat, may require watering at least once a day), but, during hot weather, water with Pro-Tekt mix in one of our watering cans; mist with Grow Juice weekly. Generally require repotting every 3-5 years.

    3.       HOW TO WATER:

     a.     When your bonsai is indoors, place it on a tray filled with tray rock (see example  below). To  water: lift bonsai off tray, hold over sink, water the entire soil surface using one of our watering cans with a microfine rosette until water comes out the bottom drainage holes (twice), after initial flush of water from holes, place it back on the tray rock in the tray so that remaining sporadic droplets can be absorbed and released later as humidity.

b.      When your bonsai is outdoors, can be watered in place, no tray is necessary. Water the entire soil surface using one of our water cans with a microfine rosette until water comes out the bottom drainage holes (twice)

4.         MIXTURES

         a.       BONSAI PRO mix: Fill a clean gallon container with water (rainwater/distilled water is best and mix in a 1/4 teaspoon of Bonsai Pro. Pour this mix into your watering container, thoroughly water your bonsai, then pour any remaining mix back into the gallon container, cap it and set it aside till next watering. This mix will stay stable until you use it up, i.e. it will not weaken or go bad.

 
b.   K-L-N mix - for use with stressed trees and at repotting and can also be used in misting. Mix a capful in quart spray bottle of water.
 
c.  PRO-TEKT mix - used to greatly increase trees resistance to temperature/humidity changes. Mix a capful in 1 gallon water.
 
d.  NEEM OIL mix - mix in a quart spray bottle of water, 1 1/2 capfuls of Neem Oil and a 1/4 teaspoon of liquid dish soap, then agitate or shake till mixed. Is a natural means of insect control.
 
e.   GROW JUICE - in 1 gallon water, mix 1 tablespoon each: Liquid Fish, Liquid Seaweed, Horticultural Molasses, and apple cider vinegar. Is a natural means of foliar/systemic feeding and

 

EXAMPLE OF TRAY ROCK IN TRAY:

SAIKEI  –
 
The soil mix is different from our standard bonsai soil in order to make it easier for a novice to care for Saikei.  Drying soil, leaf droop, and  bud or flower wilt are sure indicators that you need to water. Do not keep the soil too wet or too dry, just evenly moist.
 
Touch the soil, if dry it needs water; watch for leaf droop and/or flower wilt, it needs water – we highly recommend you keep it moist using our water container with a fine rosette and Bonsai-Pro mix.
 

To water:   lift pot  off tray, hold over sink, water the entire soil surface using one of our watering cans with a microfine rosette until water comes out the bottom drainage holes , after initial flush of water from holes, place it back on the tray.

 TINY TRAY SCAPES - Mist with Bonsai Pro mix in spray water bottle.

 

AZALEA BONSAI
 
The soil mix is different from our standard bonsai soil in order to make it easier for a novice to care for Azaleas. Drying soil, leaf droop, and/or bud or flower wilt are sure indicators that you need to water.
 
Touch the soil and if it is dry, it needs water; watch for leaf droop and/or flower wilt, it needs water – we highly recommend you keep it moist using our water container with a fine rosette and Bonsai-Pro mix.
 
Especially when they are flowering: If you are leaving for a few days, all you have to do is set the tree in a tub of water that will come half way up the side of the pot and it will be just fine till you return. This is different than with regular bonsai!
 
Remember when in heavy air conditioning, the ambient air moisture is greatly reduced – so keep these trees moist to maintain their flower.
 
Your Azalea will be much happier in a 70-80 degree environment and not in full sun. 
 

To water:   lift bonsai off tray, hold over sink, water the entire soil surface using one of our watering cans with a microfine rosette until water comes out the bottom drainage holes, after initial flush of water from holes, place it back on the tray. If it does dry out too much and the flowers have wilted, place in a tub of water overnight (or sometimes a little longer, if necessary) and the tree will rehydrate.

IF AZALEA IS KEPT INDOORS, you may want to put ice around the root ball when water is required.  Just let the ice melt and it will gently water your bonsai.