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Daily Care and Display

by Gail Theron

Bonsai require a certain amount of care every day. This is made easier and far pleasanter if your trees are well displayed and easily accessible. Create a special bonsai corner or Bonsai¬En in your garden, it need not be expensive or elaborate and can blend in with the surroundings. When choosing a spot it is most important for you to take the climatic conditions into consideration, ideally a wind free area with some sunny area and a partially shaded area. As for benches, there are many effective systems and if you have visited fellow growers you will be able to decide which will suit you best. I prefer to keep my nursery stock separate from my trees as I feel that black bags , punnets and asbestos trays detract from a display.

 

The following need to be taken into account during your daily care:

 

  • WATERING

 

 

Water thoroughly until water comes out of the drainage holes. Frequency is dependent on your climatic conditions and also the material you grow. In summer I water once a day except on very hot windy days when I water in the early morning and again in the evening. In winter one has to check on the moisture content in the soil and water accordingly.

  • FERTILISING

Find a program to suit yourself and your trees, if you enjoy working on your trees often then you can feed them often, however if you don't have the time or inclination, then probably once or twice a year would suit you and keep your trees from expiring. As to what you feed, refer to the fertilising program issued in Kai News some time ago and make use of it to develop your own system.

  • NIPPING

If you are trying to develop an intricate network of branch lets this is very important and can be done constantly as you stand and water.

  • PRUNING

Periodic pruning is most necessary to keep your tree looking like a bonsai - it should not be allowed to get bigger and bigger with each passing year.

  • PESTS AND DISEASES

These are a constant hazard so check often on the health of your tree. You may find aphids, mealy bug, scale, thrips, red spider mites, stinkbugs, snout beetles, or caterpillars. A product on the market which will take care of all these is Folithion. I use it on everything in the nursery including ficus, celtis, elms and maples which tolerate it very well. Fungi can be dealt with by using Benlate or Funginex.

  • WIRING

Periodically check trees with wire on them as wire scars caused by the wire biting into the trunk and branches as they thicken look unsightly and happens so quickly especially on maples and figs.

  • ROTATING TREES

It is necessary to rotate trees so that another side faces the light, periodically, in order that they do not develop a one-sided appearance.

  • WEEDS

Weeds should be removed, not only do they use the nutrients and water meant for your tree but they make ideal breeding places for pests and most important, they detract from the appearance of your tree.

  • POTS

Keep pots clean, a periodic wipe with a cloth with a few drops of oil makes them look as good as new. Check that the drainage holes are not blocked.

Enjoy your trees, try to have a bench nearby where you can relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility of your bonsai.

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Random Bonsai Tip

Mixing growing medium - To mix your growing medium, put the mixture into an empty compost bag (as much as you can handle) and tip the bag backwards and forwards - this is much easier and more effective than mixing in a wheelbarrow!