Outdoor Bonsai Care
Outdoor bonsai include evergreen varieties like pines and junipers as well as deciduous varieties like maples and elms. All outdoor bonsai are hardy and require seasonal change. Upon receiving your bonsai, it is best to acclimate it in a shady area for one week. All outdoor bonsai prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. Patios, decks and balconies are great areas to display your bonsai during the growing season. Outdoor bonsai can be displayed indoors, but only for short periods of time. You should never leave your bonsai inside for more than five days.
Watering properly is critical to maintaining a healthy bonsai! Outdoor bonsai are watered according to the season. Outdoor bonsai should be watered daily in the spring, summer and fall. In the winter you will not need to water as frequently. However, you should never let your bonsai’s soil dry out. Water your bonsai properly by using a watering can or hose attachment that has a fine-spray nozzle. You should thoroughly soak your bonsai’s soil. Water should be running out of the drain holes. Misting foliage periodically is recommended, but should not be considered watering. General care is also important to maintaining a beautiful bonsai. Bonsai should be periodically trimmed to keep their miniature shape. To best understand trimming and wiring techniques, we recommend purchasing an instructional book.
Your bonsai will need to be repotted every four to five years. It is necessary to repot your bonsai when its root system becomes pot bound. Repotting outdoor bonsai should be done before new growth appears during late winter or early spring. Make sure you are using a good bonsai soil when repotting since regular potting soil will compact and inhibit proper drainage. We recommend waiting at least one growing season before repotting your bonsai to make sure it is well established.
Fertilizing bonsai is required. Most water-soluble and time-released fertilizers work very well when used as directed. We recommend using slow-releasing organic fertilizers for more mature specimen bonsai.
INSECTS & DISEASES
Insects and diseases can attack bonsai just like any other plant. Inspect your bonsai regularly. A brisk spraying of the trunk and foliage periodically will help keep your tree clean. If any problems appear, most garden centers have products available for treatment.
Outdoor bonsai need to experience winter dormancy and should remain outdoors in the winter. Nevertheless, the root systems of outdoor bonsai need protection from extreme winter weather. You should “Heel-In” your bonsai by covering the pot and soil with pine needles or mulch when temperatures approach freezing. We also recommend protecting your bonsai from extremely cold winds by placing it against the south side of your house. In areas that have extremely cold winters, bonsai can be protected in garages, sheds, cold frames or basements. Contact a local bonsai club for more advice.