We often search internet for any query we have. That’s the advantage of being in a digital era. No information is hidden these days. Like plants are an integral part of our lives. With the raising environmental issues and dharnas, we all are in better terms with the effects and benefits of having plants around us. That’s because of the availability of information on digital platform apart from the print media coverage.  Every green enthusiast is pleading people through social and print media to plant more trees everyday for a better and greener future for our coming generations.

Having plants is an individual choice. Some like outdoor plants and some indoor plants. All trees are outdoor trees. The terms 'indoor bonsai' and 'outdoor bonsai' are meaningless except to describe where you keep your trees. There are no plants that cannot be grown 'indoors' if you can supply them with what they need. One of such indoor as well as outdoor plant speci is Bonsai. It is a fascinating and living art. There are several tutorials and guides to grow and manage a Bonsai. Every article truly states that it is a technique to grow and take care of a Bonsai. So here I am stating some very obvious and helpful points for managing a Bonsai at home.

  1. How to water the Bonsai ?

One of the most obvious question is how and how much to water a Bonsai. So here is the answer. When the soil surface is slightly dry, start watering the plant, but avoid overwatering. One need to measure the moisture at top layer of soil to get the best results. Particularly the level of the moisture has to be regulated at regular intervals of at least 12 hrs for tropical regions.

  1. Are fertilizers necessary for the Bonsai?

Yes, why not? Regular fertilization is the fundamental part of the effective Bonsai care. Basically, three types of fertilizers are required

  • Nitrogen for proper growth
  • Phosphorous for proper root growth
  • Potassium for cell regeneration and production of fruit and flowers.

For a Bonsai , 10:10:10 is the recommended fertilization ratio for optimum growth. Do try to water the plant before fertilization. An important pointer for Bonsai is that the fertilization shouldn’t be done during the dormant season of the bonsai plant. So now dormancy is a survival strategy that temperate climate species have evolved to stay alive over the winters. These species have a biological clock that tells them to slow activity and prepare soft tissues for an onslaught of freezing temperatures. The temperate climate plants require a cold dormant period. They have internal clocks that tell them when to go dormant. The clocks can be tricked to some degree. After a normal growing season, dormancy can be brought on by decreasing temperatures and shortened day length, or delayed by maintaining summer temperatures and day-length. In general, the period for intervention more or less coincides with seasonal changes:

  • in winter, the tree is dormant because of very cold weather
  • in early spring, growth begins again
  • in spring and early summer, there is major growth
  • in high summer, the tree is dormant due to the heat
  • in early autumn, fruit is produced and growth stabilises
  • in late autumn, the tree prepares for the winter dormancy.

An important point to be noted here is that use liquid fertilizers for above stated situational outdoor bonsai and solid fertilizers for indoor bonsai.

  1. What is the best temperature for my Bonsai ?

It is common sense to work on a tree at a time when it is possible to obtain the best result, while interfering as little as possible with the plant’s natural activity. Causing stress to a plant will slow down its process of development instead of speeding it up, so timing your work is important! Monitor the temperature of the Bonsai by a thermometer and adjust the location of the plant accordingly. Outdoor bonsai plants in tropical region require warm temperatures during wet season. Do not keep the Bonsai under the sunlight directly during the summers. And during wet season, the bonsai plant require min 5 hrs of sunlight.

  1. Which is the best soil for my Bonsai?

Bonsai plants are commonly grown in pots and so soil should be carefully selected. Bonsai soil mixture must have good water retention, drainage and airing. So, Akadama is the perfect soil mixture, though it is extremely expensive and needs continuous reporting. Peat moss, sand and perlite can also be used as a mixture.

  1. When should the Bonsai be repotted?

When leaves starts becoming yellow and the roots start drying, you should repot your bonsai. Cut down all damaged roots and remove the infected soil from the roots. Most bonsai can be repotted during the winter, but the best period for this is the weeks immediately prior to the early spring revival, when you judge that there is no longer a danger of intense cold that could damage the roots. If repotting a tree in the middle of winter, you need to remember to put it in a place where it is safe from frost – although not in a heated room, because you do not want to stimulate premature growth.

  1. How to choose right pots for Bonsai?

A pot with extremely reliability, effective drainage and suitable airing should be used. Pots made out of Bonsai friendly clay mixture should be used. Yes, the choice of the right pot is extremely important for a beautifully growing bonsai.

  1. How to save my Bonsai from diseases and pests?

One should provide proper light, aeration and drainage to the Bonsai plants. Replenishing of soil, re-potting and fertilization should be done as and when required. One should take away the infected plant away from all other plants for saving it from pests. Sterilization of all tools involved in re-potting and pruning is important to ensure better health of bonsai plant.

  1. Can one style their Bonsai oneself?

Styling bonsai requires proper pruning and wiring. Pruning is the process of giving new shape to the bonsai tree by cutting the branches in an artistic way. Two types of pruning is important

  • Structural pruning: Structural, or ‘hard’, pruning is intended to give an initial form to virgin material, reducing the length of the trunk and accentuating the taper if this is part of the design conceived for the bonsai, or removing unnecessary branches. It should be done once a year, when the branches are dormant.
  • Maintenance pruning: It is also possible to use a very light pruning to get back the shape that has been lost through the new growth from the last season. This type of pruning, which is usually combined with wire training, allows the bonsai’s form to be re-established and the foliage to grow correctly. Repeated every year, this procedure leads the bonsai towards maturity and encourages its growth activity to stabilize. This should be done with great care; only excessive branches should be squeezed.

Wiring is done to articulate tree shape into desired position.

Thus, these were very commonly asked questions about bonsai. The answers can help anyone to grow and maintain a healthy bonsai tree. As earlier said, it’s an art. One needs to use the creativity and knowledge to build the art, (majorly knowledge for this one). So read newsletters and articles for new techniques and ways to have a healthy bonsai. The main idea is to keep yourself updated on the latest trends and methods for your art of Bonsai and apply them as per the suitability of the surroundings.