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Bonsai trees are very popular with many because caring for them is not only a challenge, but can also have a calming effect and provide relaxation. However, it is not easy to find your way into this beautiful hobby as a beginner. With the right knowledge, however, it can work without any problems and the bonsai can not only become a real eye-catcher. It can also be the pride of your own plant collection.
Not every bonsai is suitable for beginners, because some species are more difficult to care for than others. These plants, among others, are ideal for getting started in the world of bonsai trees:
- Weeping Fig or Ficus
- Chinese juniper
- fukien tea
- jade tree
They have comparatively low requirements and can therefore also be kept well by beginners in plant care or bonsai culture.
From time to time there are bonsai trees in hardware stores and nurseries - sometimes even on sale. The comparatively low prices can tempt you to buy, but the plants often die very quickly after purchase. This does not necessarily have to be due to incorrect maintenance. A generally unfavorable rearing and culture can also be responsible for this.
It tends to be better to get advice from experienced gardeners or to buy the bonsai directly from a specialist for the noble plants. The plants are usually more expensive with these than, for example, at the hardware store or even in the supermarket. However, they are often more durable.
How the location of the bonsai should look depends of course on the respective plant species. Some prefer full sun while others prefer partial shade. Humidity and temperature requirements can also vary significantly between different species. However, some points should be considered for all bonsai trees:
Don't just keep inside
For the plants that can be grown as bonsai, summer should mean time outdoors. From May or June, when late frost is no longer to be expected, the plant can be taken outside. Direct sunlight, oxygen and typical temperature fluctuations help the bonsai tree to thrive and become more robust. If, on the other hand, the plant is only in the apartment, it can quickly die or at least lead to reduced growth and diseases.
Choose protected locations
The bonsai should be given a sheltered location both outdoors and indoors. Because direct midday sun, heavy rain or wind or cold drafts can cause damage to the plant.
Slow getting used to
If the bonsai is brought outside from indoors, it should first be in the light shade - even if it is a plant species that needs a lot of sun. This can prevent burns occurring on the plant. If the nights are even cooler or frost is to be expected, the bonsai tree should also be brought back into the house. This can also prevent damage.
Water bonsai trees
Of course, there are differences between the plant species when watering, as well as in the choice of location. Again, however, there are general rules that must be observed. For example, you should always wait until the soil has dried before watering. The so-called thumb test is recommended for this. The thumb is pressed about a centimeter deep into the substrate. If moist soil sticks to it, it does not need to be watered. If the substrate is dry, on the other hand, water must be added. For plants that are outdoors in summer, this can certainly apply twice a day. Rainwater, stagnant tap water and untreated pond or aquarium water are ideal - since water comes from these sources low in lime and soft is. The water should also be at room temperature.
It is poured in stages and directly onto the root disc. This means that the water is given as close as possible to the trunk. When the first drops run through the substrate into the bowl underneath, the watering is stopped first. After a few minutes, the watering is repeated. It takes so many repetitions until the substrate is well moistened. For smaller bonsai, watering can alternatively be done through Dive respectively. For this it is necessary to hold the planter in a bucket under water until no more air bubbles rise.
tip: It makes sense to use a watering can with a spray when watering. They don't wash off the substrate as easily. On very dry days and when the room air is dry, it may be advisable to moisten the leaves with a plant sprayer in addition to watering. This can prevent dehydration and diseases. However, spraying should not be done when there is strong sunlight.
From spring to autumn, the bonsai tree needs a continuous supply of nutrients. The easiest way to do this is to use special bonsai fertilizer from specialist shops. Liquid fertilizer is added to the irrigation water and is easily distributed very evenly. Fertilizer in the form of balls or pellets is either placed directly on the substrate or in a fertilizer basket. The basket prevents birds or other animals from eating the manure.
If the choice falls on solid fertilizers, the plant must then be poured urgently. On the one hand, the nutrients dissolve and can be absorbed faster and better. On the other hand, this prevents chemical burns on the roots. Because with high concentrations of nutrients that hit the roots concentrated in one place, damage can occur. It is also optimal to adjust the nutrient supply during the annual growth phase. Depending on the season, attention should be paid to special nutrient ratios:
- Fertilize with an emphasis on nitrogen in the spring, a ratio of NPK 12+6+6 is ideal
- a balanced ratio of NPK 10+10+10 in summer
- Reduce nitrogen in autumn, with NPK 3+10+10
notice: When dosing, attention should be paid to the information provided by the manufacturer in order to avoid undersupply or over-fertilization.
The regular trimming ensures that the bonsai gets its characteristic shape. In the case of blends, a distinction is made between measures for care and measures for shaping. The knowledge about the different shapes and techniques fills entire books. If you only want to keep bonsai as a hobby, you will find the basic rules here.
When pruning deciduous trees for maintenance, you should remove any branches that are growing inward or crossing over. Coniferous trees are not pruned, but plucked with the fingers. In both cases, you should also remove damaged or dried plant parts.
For the design cut or topiary, the bonsai tree should be at eye level and accessible from all sides. The following tips will help you proceed further:
- choose a template that is aimed for and best use as a picture for orientation
- Cut off protruding branches as close to the trunk as possible
- Perform cuttings in spring or after flowering
- use concave pliers for thicker branches to allow cuts to dry faster and reduce the risk of germs getting in
tip: Special pruning tools for bonsai trees are recommended for cutting. A bonsai scissors and concave tongs are part of the basic equipment for beginners. It is also important to keep tools clean to avoid spreading disease.
Wire bonsai trees
Keeping a bonsai as a beginner can be difficult. However, wiring and bending the branches is comparatively easy if you have the knowledge. The following guide can help:
- Choose aluminum wire with a thickness equal to one third of the branch diameter.
- Cut pieces of wire to the appropriate length so that they reach from the trunk to the end of the branch.
- Starting from the trunk, wrap the wire in a spiral around the branch.
- Slowly bend the branch and wire into the desired shape. Be careful not to bend or break the branch too much.
- If you bend several branches, the wires on the trunk must not cross or lie on top of each other.
When it comes to overwintering, bonsai trees need to be divided into two categories: hardy plant species and tropical plant species. You should bring the tropical representatives into the house at the latest when the temperatures drop below 15 °C. A bright location near a window is suitable as winter quarters. The following points should be observed during care:
- also use a plant lamp, as the light is often insufficient in winter
- Water as usual once the soil dries out
- If the room air is dry, also spray the foliage
- Stop fertilizing in the fall
- Check the plant regularly for diseases and pests
Hardy bonsai trees can be overwintered in various ways. On the one hand, it is possible to leave them outdoors. However, you must then protect the roots accordingly. Various options are available for this:
The bucket is dug directly into the ground and the root disc is covered with brushwood and straw from above.
If the planter is too big to simply dig it in and out again in spring, or if there is no garden, you should insulate the bucket on all sides. It is placed on a styrofoam plate or pallet to protect it from frost. You should also wrap the planter in garden fleece, bubble wrap, jute or other insulating materials. You should wrap in several layers in order to achieve the highest possible protective effect.
Insulation in the box
For smaller bonsai, it makes sense to put them in a box or box and then fill the container with insulating materials. Straw, styrofoam but also fleece are suitable.
On frost-free days, you should also check the moisture content of the soil in the free-standing bonsai trees and water them if necessary. Alternatively, you can also bring the plants indoors. Here they should be bright and cool but frost-free at temperatures around 10 °C.
potting and substrate
The substrate should be changed about every two years in the spring after wintering. The repotting in a larger planter must only be done when the soil is almost completely rooted. Special bonsai soil is recommended as a substrate.
tip: To reduce the watering frequency, you can increase the proportion of humus in the soil and reduce the proportion of fine-grained gravel. This allows the substrate to store more water.
Diseases, pests and care errors
Mistakes in care are particularly problematic, as they weaken the bonsai tree and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases. They are often:
If the plant receives too little light, growth is reduced. Too much light, on the other hand, can burn the leaves.
improper watering and improper humidity
A lack of liquid causes it to dry out, while waterlogging causes rot and mold. Water that is too hard and therefore too calcareous can interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Water that is too cold can trigger a cold shock that negatively affects growth.
Mistakes in fertilizing
Too few or too many nutrients also affect growth. In addition, if the fertilizer is not distributed, chemical burns can occur on the roots.
If you cut the bonsai tree too much or wrong, it weakens the whole plant. In addition, interfaces that are too large can lead to diseases or pests being able to spread more easily, or the crop being infected.
If the substrate is not loose and permeable enough, this can promote waterlogging and the roots can rot - unnoticed at first. This also promotes the formation of mold on the ground.
too warm hibernation
If the plant is too warm during the winter, there is an incorrect relationship between temperature and incidence of light. A plant lamp or keeping the plant cooler is recommended as a solution.
Which diseases and pests can occur on the bonsai depends on the respective plant species. Therefore, there can be no general information on this.