Tropical bonsai trees are grown indoors while varieties of trees from temperate zones can be grown as bonsai trees outdoors. Whether your outdoor bonsai tree is an evergreen or deciduous tree, extra care has to be taken in the winter months. An ordinary outdoor tree has its roots protected by the soil. A bonsai tree rooted in a shallow bonsai planter is exposed to the worst the winter has to offer.
Guarding Your Treasure
If you live in an area with potentially violent winter weather, your outdoor bonsai tree might do well indoors. Some trees won’t tolerate a heated home well but could flourish in an unheated garage or shed. A deciduous tree – one that loses its leaves in the winter – should be allowed its dormancy. A warm winter home might get it to continue growing at the wrong time of the year. Whatever you do, don’t bring the tree in after the cold weather sets in and then take it out again into the cold. Whether your outdoor bonsai tree remains outdoors or is put into an unheated shelter, the protection usually provided to the roots by soil should be imitated with mulch.
You can pile mulch up to the branches if necessary. Don’t forget to water your tree, especially if the winter is dry. Whatever kind of protection you choose, make sure you begin before the freezing weather starts. By the same token, your outdoor bonsai tree should continue its protection into the spring, well after any chance of freezing is past. Never fertilize in the winter as you don’t want to encourage growth during the cold months. When you return your outdoor bonsai tree to its usual place, allow it some shade at first to help it adjust to its sunny home.
Once spring arrives, you can begin working on it. This is the best time of the year for such chores as repotting, wiring and pruning. Pruning is always best done after the buds are set but still closed. The tree can recover from these stressful activities best in the spring. Remember that pruning the branches requires a balanced pruning of the roots as well. Every season of the year brings new rewards from your lovely outdoor bonsai tree as well as stress and different needs. When you fulfill the seasonal needs, you will be sure to receive the seasonal rewards for the life of the tree.
What is the Right Bonsai Soil to Use?
Using the right bonsai soil can be very beneficial for a bonsai tree. There are a lot of enthusiasts who use ready-mix bonsai soil from nurseries and garden shops but it is quite expensive. Because of frequent repotting during spring, most bonsai hobbyists or gardeners learn mixing soils on their own.
There is a wide variety of soil ingredients to use. For starters, choosing which type of soil to use can be very difficult. It is important that the bonsai soil can hold moisture and nutrients needed by the plant because the health and beauty of the bonsai tree heavily depends on the quality of soil.
The soil should have good hold of water but excess water should also be drained quickly to avoid build up of salts. Good air intake of the soil is also vital. The soil mix should have small-sized gaps so that the roots can have enough air. A well-mixed inorganic soil allows air to continually flow into the soil while a packed down organic soil can hinder water and air flow that can cause damage to the roots.
An organic bonsai soil is comprised of dead plant substances like peat, dead leaves and barks. An inorganic bonsai soil is composed of fired clays and volcanic lava. This type of soil can be found in garden centers and nurseries.
Although most bonsai plants require soils good for water retention and draining excess water, there are species that have their own requirements for intake of nutrients and water. For example, Pine trees and Juniper trees need lesser water intake meaning they require less-water-retention type of soil. However, flowering and fruit-bearing species require soil mixes with high level of water retention.
In mixing your own bonsai soil, the percentage of water-holding material should depend on the specie of the tree that will be planted. For a free-draining soil, high ration of grit should be added making the soil drain all excess water while increasing the quantity of water-holding material, which also increases the retention of water in the soil.
Proper knowledge on what soil to use is very essential for a healthy and beautiful bonsai tree. It is fine for starters to use a ready-mixed bonsai soilfrom a nursery or garden center for the first few times. However, the use of inorganic soil is the most recommended.
While there is not one particular soil ideal for growing bonsai, as you experience using various types of soils and different species of bonsai trees, it will be easier for you to determine the most suitable choice.