Caring for Bonsai Trees – Feeding

By Ruth Morgan

An important element in caring for bonsai trees is the feeding regime.  Unless bonsai are given the right nutrients at the right time they will not thrive.  Therefore feeding, along with watering, are essential aspects of caring for bonsai trees.

The reason why it is important to feed regularly is that the porous soil used in bonsai pots cannot hold onto nutrients.  The nutrients therefore need to be replenished on a regular basis during the growing season.

There are three methods of applying fertiliser to your bonsai trees.

1.  Watering into the soil.

2.  Using fertiliser pellets in the soil.

3.  Spraying onto the leaves.

It is a matter of personal preference as to which method you adopt.

Bonsai fertiliser

It is possible to buy specialist fertilisers specifically for bonsai.  However, general fertilisers work just as well provided you understand some basic principles.

Three letters (N, P, K) appear on the packaging of all good fertilisers.  They represent the three main nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  The numbers that you see e.g. N P K 15 30 15 represent the ratios of each nutrient.  Higher numbers denote higher strength of nutrients.

The three main nutrients have different functions and it is important to understand this as different ratios are required at different times of the year.

For example, nitrogen promotes the growth of leaves and stems and should be increased when you want to encourage rapid growth.  Conversely, no nitrogen should be applied in the autumn as the tree prepares for the dormant winter period.

Different species of bonsai require different ratios of nutrients at different times of the year.  So it is important to research this aspect in order to give the appropriate care for you bonsai trees.

If you want to encourage rapid growth of young trees so that the trunks thicken quickly you can introduce a super feeding regime.  This works on the principle of using a variety of feeds in small amounts very frequently.

Topics: bonsai care

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