How To Tell If Your Bonsai Tree Needs Water

Like all plants here on earth, Bonsai trees need fresh clean water to live. We all know this, but recently one of the girls in my office asked me “how do you know if it needs water?”. I thought she was just being silly for a minute, than I realized she was being curious and that it was a valid question. I haven’t thought about it for years because I just water my Ficus Bonsai tree every week, and I never allow the soil to get dry for extended periods of time. This is a question I get asked a lot, so I figured I’d write a post on it.

 

Feel The Soil To See If Your Bonsai Needs Water

The first thing i’d suggest is to feel the soil. Now, did you notice how I said “the first thing I’d suggest”? That’s because soil dryness can be a sign that you need to water your bonsai tree, but it is not the end all, ultimate sign. I say this because you should be letting your bonsai tree soil get dry between watering. If you keep the soil wet the entire time, your bonsai is prone to fungal infections and will most likely not live for hundreds of years like they are meant to. It’s just prudent to give it a feel and make sure if you can’t remember when you watered your bonsai last.

 

Check The Color Of Your Raw Clay Pots

I also wanted to remind you that if you have a raw pottery pot for your bonsai tree, it will change color a bit if it is wet or dry. It will be darker if it is wet, and it will be lighter colored if it’s dry. Now I will say that this will only work if the pot you use is raw, and it will only apply if there is extreme over or under watering.

 

Keep A Bonsai Tree Watering Schedule

I’ve found that the best way to make sure that my bonsai trees are always watered correctly is setting up a schedule. My watering schedule is super simple. I literally water my bonsai trees on Mondays. I also set an alarm on my cell phone that goes off every Monday at 7:30 am. I get busy with work and a million things going through my mind a day, so the alarm really helps.

 

How I Water My Bonsai

I water my bonsai with a simple spray bottle. I use the mist setting to spray the leaves and tree, and then I set the bottle nozzle to a direct stream and squirt the soil a few times. Remember to completely soak the soil, but only do this once a week or so. The soil will need to dry completely between watering.

How To Care For An Inside Bonsai Tree

Having an indoor bonsai tree has been a true joy for me, nothing brings a breath of life into my dull workstation like my bonsai tree. I wanted to talk to you about caring for an inside bonsai tree, and sharing information that has worked for me. We will also talk about the different individual needs of inside bonsai trees compared to the needs of outside bonsai trees. I hope you are as excited about these beautiful trees as I am!  Some of my favorite inside bonsai trees are Gardenia Bonsai, Juniper Bonsai, Jade Bonsai, Evergreen Bonsai and Azalea Bonsai trees. These are hardly little trees and just like their names, several of them are flowering trees. There are so many differences between inside and outside bonsai trees. For instance, the pots they are planted in and whether you need a pot to hold water in or one that drains well. Lighting differences, soil types, watering and pruning and the best way to train them and how your particular bonsai will respond to training methods.

Pots For Indoor Bonsai Trees

There is a large array of choices when it comes to choosing a pot for your inside bonsai tree. My preference is ceramic pots because they are durable and beautiful to look at, coming in almost any color and pattern you would desire. Ceramic pots can be glazed or unglazed depending on what you’re looking for. Next, we have Clay pots also known as unbreakable Mica. These are a nice choice for outside bonsai trees. These pots are available in plastic as well and will weather just fine. My favorite pots are the self-watering pots because they are so convenient.

Soil Types For Indoor Bonsai Trees

Now let’s talk about different soil types for indoor bonsai trees. You could start out with a simple General Purpose soil that is relatively inexpensive. My favorite is Akadama which is a soil mix including black lava, pumice,haydite and charcoal. My bonsai does well with this mix. There are also types of topsoil mixes that are specific to the needs of certain bonsai trees such as the following,  for Juniper, Japanese Black Pine, Cedar, and Cypress. There are many other specific needs topsoils as well.

Fertilizer For Indoor Bonsai Trees

To keep your bonsai looking its best and healthy I recommend using a good fertilizer/plant food on a regular basis. These are available in many forms and here are a few I like. I use fertilizer pellets and super food spray because they are mess free. I also like liquid plant food that comes in the form of little sticks as well. Most bonsai trees should be fertilized during the entire growing season of the tree, from early spring till mid-autumn. Indoor trees can be fertilized around the year. It is often recommended to use a fertilizer with a relatively high nitrogen content in spring. Something like NPK 10:6:6 which is a more balanced fertilizer.

Watering Schedule For Indoor Bonsai Trees

The watering of your bonsai must never be neglected. Apply water when the soil appears dry. Never allow the soil to become completely dry. If your bonsai is receiving full sun, it may be necessary to water it once a day. This schedule will vary with the size pot, type of soil and type of bonsai tree you own. Water your bonsai with room temperature tap water because cold water has the potential to shock its roots. My favorite way to water my bonsai is to collect rainwater, they seem to thrive on it. If you can’t use rainwater, simple bottled water is fine. I mention using bottled water only if your tap water is hard, and has a lot of lime in it.

 

Lighting For Indoor Bonsai Trees

Lighting for your bonsai can be a little confusing at times. Generally, your bonsai needs about 5 hours of direct or indirect sunlight per day. Certain species of bonsai do best in winter if they receive most of their light from indirect sources. When using a grow light for your bonsai the best bulbs to use are Full Spectrum fluorescent, which output the natural UV range that sunlight contains. I hope you find this helpful.

 

Training Techniques For Indoor Bonsai Trees

There are several different types of training for your bonsai tree, wire training and jin are my favorites. Wire training is albeit difficult and tedious but well worth the effort. I find most bonsai trees respond well to this whether they are indoor or outdoor. I’ve been training my bonsai with practice and patience it has turned out beautiful.