Bonsai is a Japanese word, which can be translated as “planted in a pot”, since it is made up of the words “bon”, tray, and “sai”, cultivar. It refers to a cultivation technique that consists of planting trees and shrubs in pots, giving them a certain shape so that they look like miniature versions of themselves.
Currently, the art of making bonsai is widespread throughout much of the world, and its practice is an arduous and slow process but very rewarding. One of the things that changes the most in the care of a bonsai compared to a tree or shrub grown under normal circumstances is its watering. if you want to learn when and how to water a bonsai properly, keep reading us in this EcologíaVerde article where you will find a practical guide on watering bonsai.
When to water a bonsai
There is no universal rule when establishing the bonsai watering frequency. This decision involves factors as varied as the specific needs of the plant, the size of the pot and the local climate.
Because of this, the best general advice we can give you is to water your bonsai when the substrate has lost a lot of moisture. At first, until you learn to recognize it with the naked eye, you can use your own finger or a wooden stick. Sink it into the ground up to about two centimeters, and check if the substrate you touch is dry or wet. If it’s the latter, everything is fine, while if it’s dry, it’s time to water. Do not overdo it with watering, since if you keep the bonsai in soil that is too moist, its roots may end up rotting or being attacked by fungi.
Obviously, in the hot season you will need to water your bonsai much more often than in the cool or cold season. The best time of day to water is with the sunsetin such a way that we prevent the water droplets from having a magnifying effect and concentrating the sun’s rays, burning and damaging the plant.
In addition, many species of bonsai will appreciate it if you spray their leaves weekly or fortnightly, in order to clean them of dust and deposited dirt, especially if they are indoors.
How to water a bonsai step by step
There are two main ways to water bonsai, with a traditional watering can or by dipping.
How to water a bonsai with a watering can
If you water in the traditional way, with a shower, choose one that has a head with very fine holes, so that the water falls in jets as fine as possible. In this way, the water is more oxygenated and does not drag or damage the substrate when it falls. Also, bonsai are usually watered in two steps:
- Make a first superficial irrigation whose objective is to open the pores of the substrate and improve its absorption.
- Do the second watering once the water from the first has been absorbed, and this time you have to water abundantly, until all the soil is soaked and the water comes out through the drainage holes in the pot.
- If it is in a tray, the excess water must be removed a few minutes after watering.
Immersion irrigation in bonsai
- Prepare a container to fill with water, in which you will submerge the bonsai up to the surface of the earth, no more.
- Leave it in the water for about 5 minutes, until bubbles stop coming out of the soil, which is when the soil will have completely soaked.
- After that time, remove the pot from the water and let the drainage holes remove all the excess.
The most recommended is alternate the two types of bonsai wateringsince irrigation by immersion is more complete and can make up for the punctual deficiencies of irrigation with a watering can that is not entirely well done or help the bonsai to recover if it has not been watered for a long time.
It is also important to use rainwater or osmosisboth for irrigation and for spraying water on the leaves, since tap water contains elements, such as lime or chlorine, that can stain or harm the plant. If you don’t have access to such water, weakly mineralized bottled spring water is also a good choice. If you have no choice but to use regular tap water, let it sit in a container for 12-24 hours. In this way, unwanted minerals and elements will settle to the bottom, ridding your bonsai of a good part of them.
Bonsai care – basic guide
Apart from pruning, which is the main pillar in the creation of a bonsai, it is worth mentioning its main care. As we have already talked about irrigation, we will go on to talk about other important points of bonsai care:
- Substratum: We must choose a light one that does not retain too much moisture. A widely used mixture is one part pumice, one part volcanic rock and two parts akadama, although it requires quite frequent watering.
- Location and light: the location and needs or not of light of the bonsai will depend entirely on the specific characteristics of its species. Therefore, it is vital that you inform yourself very well about the specific needs of the species of the small tree you choose when purchasing it in a specialized store.
- Transplant: in a similar way to the light and the location will occur with transplants, since it will depend on the root system and speed of growth of the plant.
To further expand your knowledge of the bonsai careincluding how to water a bonsai, here we leave you the practical care guides for some specific species, which are quite common in homes:
- Fig tree bonsai care.
- Bonsai ficus benjamina: care.
- Bonsai ficus ginseng: care.
If you want to read more articles similar to How to water a bonsaiwe recommend that you enter our category .
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