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Watering Bonsai and Fertilizers

Watering your Bonsai

Water is vital for any plant. Your Bonsai needs water at the right amount. It is important that the correct amount of water is given. The two mistakes which can happen are overwatering and underwatering.


Overwatering is adding more water than is necessary to the Bonsai. Overwatering can drain the

nutrients from the soil. Overwatering does not allow the root to develop as the plant can access moisture easily without sending roots into the soil. In extreme cases, overwatering can damage the roots and cause them to decompose.


Underwatering is adding less water the soil. Underwatering can cause the plant to wilt. This is easily noticeable by observing the leaves. Always ensure that Bonsai plant has adequate water.  The water requirements of the Bonsai change with the seasons of the year and the climactic conditions.

Before watering the plant, check the soil for moisture. By looking at the color of the soil, it will be possible to identify whether it is wet or dry. Add water in small quantities only if the soil is dry.
It is not necessary to water the plant every day.  Ensure that all bonsai plants have a drain for excess water to flow out.

Watering Bonsai during vacations

Watering Bonsai during vacations when you are not at home is an issue for almost all hobbyists. Bonsai can stay without water for a few days. However, if you are planning to go out for more than a week, you may have to make arrangements.

If you have the plant in a pot or container, you can hand over the bonsai to your friend or neighbour with instructions on watering it.
If you have a planted bonsai in your garden, you can ask someone to come over once in two days and water the plants.
Special timers which can be connected to sprinklers are available which can release small quantities of water at regular intervals.

Fertilizers for Bonsai

Fertilizing the soil in which the Bonsai plant is grown is very important. All plants and trees require nutrients. In nature, trees and plants are able to send their roots deep in search of nutrients.  However, in potted bonsai plants, the soil is limited. Over a period of time, the nutrients in the soil get depleted.

The growth of the plants stops. Some plants become stunted. Over time, the bonsai plant dies.
Hence, it is important that the soil is properly fertilized.

Bonsai plants do not need any special fertilizer. Ordinary fertilizers used for gardening will do.
The main components of any fertilizer are Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Nitrogen is necessary for the growth of leaves. Phosphorous is required for the growth of the roots while Potassium in the form of Potash is necessary for flowering and fruit formation.  All fertilizers have the Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium contents indicated in the packaging.

Fertilizers are usually mixed with water and poured into the soil. The drainage holes in the bottom of the container will drain the excess fertilizer. The mixture should be in the proper proportion according to the instructions in the packaging.

Traditionally, Bonsai plants have been fertilized by means of natural fertilizers such as fish meal cakes. These cakes were placed on the top of the surface.

When the bonsai plant is watered, the cakes release the nutrients which seep into the soil.

Slow release Bonsai Fertilizers are available at most Bonsai stores. These fertilizers release the fertilizers slowly over many weeks or months.

Do not add excess fertilizers. Excess nitrogen in the soil can burn the roots. It is important to understand the specific need of the different tree species. Some tree species may require different fertilizers at different times of the year.