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Bonsai FAQs

These are a few examples of questions which members of the SBA often answer when asked by people who are new to the hobby of bonsai:

How often should I water my bonsai? 

Well, you should water it when it gets a bit dry.  The trouble is that it can be hard to tell, so if you take a 2 or 3 inch length of bamboo chopstick, split it, and stick into the corner of the pot, stick it at least half way in.  If you take it out and it's damp, don't water.  If it's dry, then water but only enough to just run out of the bottom of the pot.  Let it drain well, don't leave the tree standing in a pool of water.  It is best to water from the top of the pot.  If the tree is very dry, water and then water again. 

How often should I repot my bonsai?

You should try to repot your bonsai when it needs it, ie when the pot is full of roots.  If water just runs off, or if the soil is very hard, you probably need to repot.  Do it in the Spring just before bud break, ie when the leaves appear.  If it is a tree that you keep indoors,   you can repot at any time but Spring is still best.  Conifers can be repotted in the Autumn provided that you can keep them frost free over the following Winter.

Aren't all bonsai kept indoors? 

Bonsai are trees, not pot plants, and in nature they grow out of doors.  This might sound obvious, but it is harder to keep a tree healthy indoors, especially if it is a native species.  Trees need lots of light, lots of fresh air, and as even a temperature as possible.  Native species can't cope with a lot of heat, and semi-tropicals don't like wide fluctuations in temperature. Some species aren't frost tolerant so you may have to practice the bonsai two-step if it is particularly cold - take them in at night, put them out in the morning - so you need to know what your tree's species will tolerate in terms of heat and cold to keep it healthy.  

For more information look at Bonsai basics

Ishizuke, Ishitsuki, Ishitzuki
Rock garden style characterised by entire tree planted on a rock but with no soil in the pot. Water or sand ofetn in the base of the pot.

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Gardening Scotland

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