This article has been extracted from “Totally Bonsai A guide to growing, shaping, and caring for miniature trees and shrubs” by “Craig Coussins”. Watering Bonsai is vital as it needs thorough soaking so the entire root system is wetted. “Tree Removal Berkeley CA” educates on the methods of watering.
Although we have covered the general rules for watering in the care charts. I will go into this in more depth, because it is very important. Lack of attention to proper watering can be the killer of bonsai. So read the “quick tips” box here and follow the advice.
Automatic watering systems are fine as long as you watch that all the bonsai are getting their fair share. Use an automatic time switch, often called a computer watering system. What is not good about automatic systems, though, is that they can water when the tree does not need water; the drip feeds can clog or stop working; and the system, while partially controllable, will still water when there is rain. The systems I like have a “cloudy day” feature, but it can be very warm on a cloudy day and the soil will still need water. You can turn that feature off and the tree will be watered whether it needs water or not. That is not a bad thing some of the time, because the soil should be free- draining and the water, of course, will run through fast anyway. You can use wedges to tilt those bonsai that needs less water and will benefit from free run- off, such as conifers. Alternatively, remove the drips from the pots every other day.
Hose spraying is the usual method of watering. It can be more controlled way of making sure the right trees get what they need. Use an adjustable trigger spray to control the intensity of the water delivery. Feeder units can also be added easily. Do not wash the soil away with too strong a jet.
Requirements for winter and summer watering depend on climate demands.
This means giving the foliage a fine spray, because that part of the bonsai also needs to have humidity levels kept up. Especially important in warmer climates, in hot weather, and under shade netting, this may need to be done twice a day. In colder climates, misting is rarely done in winter. In fact, in colder climates, the soil is keep just barely damp through the winter months. Because many trees need little light and water, there is a tendency to forget all about them. Remind yourself to check them out at least once a week as root of conversely root dryness can set in.
Quick tips on watering
- The soil be free- draining, and that means when you water it the water flows freely through the soil without collecting on the surface.
- Keep the soil moist in the summer and winter, but water less in winter.
- Usually once a day in summer is enough but check your soil. If it is looking a little light in color, it is probably dry.
- In winter, outdoor bonsai will need a weekly check but, if damp, leave them.
- For indoor bonsai, watering once every two or three days is normal, but if your heating is running high then the soil will dry out faster. Keep the soil slightly damp but not soggy. A bonsai is like a houseplant in this respect.
- Cacti and succulents need little water during the three months of colder weather in temperature or colder climates; you should bear this in mind if you keep crassula or money- jade tree bonsai. They are succulents and should be watered once a month in winter or colder months.
- Spraying or misting with a fine spray once a day will be appreciated by your bonsai in the non- winter months. If you use a hothouse in the winter, then a weekly spray is acceptable.
- Spring watering in colder climates will be when and if the bonsai require it. In colder climates over the winter, outdoor bonsai need little if any water- assuming they remain outside; of course.
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