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Feeding Your Bonsai Tree

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How much food and when - the balancing act of Bonsai...

Anyone who has planted a tree knows that after the first few weeks, trees are generally self sufficient. They send out their roots deep and wide in the soil so they can absorb the water and nutrients they need to grow large and tall.

Roots are a life line for trees that burrow futher and further in the constant search for the water and minerals that are needed. But a Bonsai tree cannot reach out into Nature's reservoir of water and nutrients, it must depend upon you. This is one of the challenges that turns a gardener into an artist and a scientist.

Bonsai trees are self contained in a bonsai pot. Part of the special care and attention you provide will be to assure that they are getting the nutrients that they need. Still you must not over feed or over water, for that can be equally as damaging and may kill the tree.

Bonsai trees need a very special diet including plenty of water and a feeding mixture of nitrogen, phosphates and potassium. They also need vitamins and other minerals to flourish.

One way to provide nutrients to your Bonsai tree quickly is to spray the leaves. And the best time to do this is when the temperature is below 85 degrees. This will help the leaves absorb the nutrients.

Another typical method of providing your tree with nutrients is through pills or tablet. Bury a pill in the soil and over time water will break it down and the roots of the Bonsai will absorb the needed food.

Flowering White Jasmine  (trachelospermum jasminoides)

Flowering White Jasmine (trachelospermum jasminoides)

The Jasmine is a bushy vine which we have trained into tree form. It has shiny dark leaves and fragrant white flowers. The waxy snow white flowers are about 1" across, borne in clusters of 3-12 and intensely fragrant. They fade to pink as they age. The White Jasmine blooms throughout the summer and almost continuously in warm climates. Great indoor bonsai.

There are some variables to consider before deciding on the type of nutrients to use. You need to take into account the age of the tree, the size and type of tree, when the tree was last repotted, the drainage and the type of root system.

Do not be afraid to experiment with different nutrients and formulations of fertilizers. Watch for spotted leaves or droopy flowers, as this will tell you that there is something wrong.

Another aspect of feeding your bonsai is the time of year. The trees natural cycle during the seasons will guide you in how much to feed the tree. During the growing season, for example, the tree will need more nutrients. But again you will need to experiment. Start with low dosages so that you don't over do it and shock the tree. Typically, a Bonsai tree should be fed every 2 to 4 weeks.

Of course, Bonsai trees need direct sunlight as well as adequate, but not too much, water. Remember to regularly fertilize the tree as you trim and prune it for regrowth. Be on the lookout for any type of bugs including spider mites which could kill the tree. Also, it is very important to repot the tree every 2-3 years.

Over time your relationship with and understanding of individual Bonsai trees and shrubs will grow. And your Bonsais will respond to your desires, forming little works of art. There is a challenge in making them grow as you wish and to prosper as they wish. The Bonsai tree needs extra special care and nurturing to thrive. Different species will respond differently to the fertilizers you use. You may want to consult a local horticulturist to obtain more information about the specifics of raising a particular Bonsai tree.

An excellent Bonsai feed mix in liquid form to try is Superthrive Vitamins and Hormones.

About the Author:  Scott Harker is the publisher of several websites including: Flowering Cherries, Morgellons Syndrome, Temporary Tattoos, and Thomas Kinkade.

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