Azalea bonsai are some of the more common bonsai adaptations that were introduced when bonsai was first imported over from China to Japan. It is one of the more beautiful plants to adapted to bonsai style gardening.
The Azalea bonsai is a member of the genus Rhododendron. This simply indicates that the Azalea bonsai is an evergreen that adapts itself to a shrub type formation. Small shrubs typically grow to less than 6 feet in height. The Azalea Rhododendron actually can be divided into between 500-900 species.
Since they display very large beautiful flowers they present a very stunning and elegant style of bonsai plant. This is the primary reason that the Azalea bonsai has become very popular with Bonsai gardeners.
Care of the Azalea Bonsai
It is critical for peak condition that you avoid exposing this plant to direct sun during the spring and summer months. This plant will reward for your efforts on being placed in an area of filtered or indirect sun light. The plant does not need to be brought indoors during the winter and in fact can perform well outdoors even in winter climates although it will require some protection from severe conditions. An outdoor greenhouse can provide beautiful results.
For those who want to keep their bonsai indoors year-round, the azalea is quite suitable to that application. A cool window and plenty of light is considered optimum for keeping an azalea indoors during the winter months as is the necessity for frequent misting and maintain a higher level of humidity.
When considering watering options you will find that the plants respond very well to rainwater. Collection of rainwater to a storage container will reward you with healthier plants. The azalea bonsai plant will deteriorate quickly if the roots are allowed to dry out so moisture should be maintained in the soil at all times.
You will benefit from repotting as required to maintain appropriate space for full root development and you should monitor the soil to ensure the slightly higher acidity level preferred by the azalea. PH balance needs to be 4.5 to 5.5. It is best to use a soil specifically designed for Azaleas. Repotting should be undertaken in spring after the flowers have died. Repotting is required annually for the first couple of years, and every two or three years for more mature azalea bonsai.
Fertilize your azalea at about every other week in the spring time until flowering diminishes. Thereafter, monthly feedings will satisfy nutrition requirements. You should use an acid based fertilizer such as you would find available by Miracle Gro. In the late summer or early fall, reduce nitrogen from the fertilizer mixture and begin increasing the amounts of phosphorus and potassium. This will assist your azalea bonsai to set buds and blossoms for next season.
Also, if you repot with an amended, peat based soil in spring you may not be required to fertilize until autumn. It is recommended that you discontinue fertilizing your azalea bonsai during the hottest months of the summer in order guard against burning your plants.
Pruning should be practiced in late summer taking care to seal significant wounds. This plant will produce shoots from old wood. These often occur in clumps of 5 or 6. Proper pruning will reduce the number of new shoots to one or two. The number of leaves on these new shoots should also be reduced. This will ensure that these newly formed branches will receive more that adequate nutrition and light to develop in to strong, healthy new branches.
The weakest trait may be that the branches are relatively brittle and the bark thin and tender. For this reason, great care must be taken when wiring and shaping branches. Softer aluminum wire is recommended, accompanied by the liberal use of such as raffia to protect the delicate surfaces.
Written by Thomas Hendricks