Caring For Indoor Bonsai Trees
Most Bonsai trees are outdoor trees, and only certain types of trees can be grown indoors. Indoor bonsai trees are either tropical or subtropical. These trees need consistent, high temperatures all year round and lack a dormancy period commonly found in outdoor trees. The most common types of indoor bonsai trees are Ficuses, Jades, Fukien Teas, Chinese Elms, and Hawaiian Umbrellas. The care requirements for these kinds of trees are a little different from those of outdoor bonsai.
Indoor bonsai trees need lots of light all year long. The best way to get as much outdoor light as possible is to place the tree directly in front of a South facing window. Moving the tree even a few feet away from the window will decrease the light intensity significantly, which will weaken and eventually kill the tree.
Even when the tree is in the right spot, the light from the sun may not be enough. Especially if you live in a rather cold, dark place, you may need to get artificial lighting. Using artificial lighting about 10 hours a day will help the tree significantly.
Tropical trees also need high humidity consistently. The humidity levels in your home are likely not high enough for your plant. To increase the humidity for your tree, you can place a humidity tray under the plant’s pot. Fill the humidity tray with water and put it under the plant, but be careful not to let the roots fall in the water as it will rot the roots.
Watering is crucial to the health of a bonsai tree. One important thing to keep in mind is to never water on a routine, instead, check the soil every day and go from there. Under- and over- watering are some of the leading causes of death in bonsai trees.
To check the bonsai soil, you can use your finger, a chopstick, or a moisture meter. If you are using your finger, stick your finger 1 inch into the soil. If your finger is moist, do not water your bonsai, but if it is dry, water your bonsai. This method is not always accurate, so we recommend using a chopstick or moisture meter. When using a chopstick, place the chopstick and inch or two into the soil and wait 10 minutes. After that time, take out the chopstick and look at it. If the chopstick is discolored, do not water your bonsai, but if the chopstick is dry, water your bonsai. Moisture meters measure the moisture in the soil for you. If the moisture level is under 3, water your bonsai. Any number over 4 means your bonsai soil is moist and does not need to be watered.
The soil only needs to be watered when it gets a little dry.After checking the soil, water generously and let the water drip out of the drainage holes. When the water stops dripping, repeat once more. For more detailed information on watering indoor bonsai, check out our article here.
Indoor bonsai should be fertilized all year round because they do not have a growth season that outdoor bonsai do. Fertilize every three to four weeks. Any fertilizer you use should have Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Nitrogen promotes leaf and stem growth, Phosphorus promotes root growth as well as flowering and fruiting growth, Potassium promotes health of the plant overall.
Solid, organic fertilizer is applied by placing the fertilizer in little cups and placing them in the soil. The cups as used to prevent the fertilizer from being washed away (and for outdoor bonsai, they are also used to prevent birds from eating them, but you don’t usually have that problem indoors). Liquid fertilizer is administered by putting the liquid into your watering can with water and watering the plant the same way you normally do.
Caring for an indoor bonsai tree can be a fairly easy, rewarding process that you can enjoy for years. Indoor bonsai trees have different requirements than outdoor bonsai trees because they are different types of trees. Indoor bonsai are tropical or subtropical, which means they need high temperatures all year, rather than be exposed to the four seasons like outdoor bonsai do. These trees need lots of light all year round, which can be achieved by placing the tree in front of a South facing window and using artificial lighting. High humidity is also important and can be achieved by placing a humidity tray underneath the pot. Never water your bonsai on a routine, but check the soil every day, or even twice a day in the hot months. Fertilize every three to four weeks with the fertilizer of your choice. By following these few guidelines, your indoor bonsai tree will thrive.