Tag Archives: flowering bonsai

Feed that blooming bonsai!

florlion-(c)-ShutterstockThe proper soil and fertilization rates are imperative for a healthy bonsai. Typical bonsai soil is a fast draining loose mix of several compounds such as course sand, gravel, fired clay pellets, expanded shale, peat, and bark. Dependent upon your location the soil components may change or some extra components added such as in Japan the use of volcanic soils.

The harmonic mixture of organic and inorganic components set the base for the cultivation of your bonsai tree. The fast draining soil harmonizes with the bonsai containers made specifically for proper water drainage. The whole beginning process of acquiring the proper soil for your specific species of bonsai compliments the whole harmony effect achieved from a finished bonsai masterpiece.

Soils that contain little to no clay or native soil to the specific species of bonsai requires regular fertilization to overcome the soils lacking. Bonsai planted in non soil components definitely need nutrient elements added.

Plants fluctuate significantly in their reactions to soil nutrients that are programmed in their natural growth rates, the length of their growth periods, their ages, the types of root systems they have, and their ability to take in nutrients. Plants have broadly diverse growth rates and amplified nutrient intensities in the soil will not change natural growth rates. For an example, trees within the same species can have notably diverse nutrient needs and will respond in their own way to nutrient intensity in the soil.

Although one may think by increasing the intensity of fertilizer given to their bonsai will produce greater and more rapid growth rate, in reality it can have a complete negative effect and cause great distress to your bonsai. There comes a point when too much is just that, too much and the fertilizer begins to use the initial effect it was meant for and begins to cause more harm than good. Overdosing on fertilizer with your bonsai can result in a toxicity effect; make it more susceptible to disease, abnormal unbalanced growth, and nutrient imbalances.

Knowing and studying the specific species of bonsai you are working with is the first step in optimizing your fertilizer routine and save you from undue harm to your bonsai. Plant growths differ as well as the season s the plant displays the most growth and need for extra nutrients. Feeding fertilizer in doormat times or times of slow inherited growth is not only senseless but can be disastrous.

Depending on the maturity of your bonsai will also determine the amount of fertilizer it will require. Young bonsai will require more fertilizers than their slower growing mature counterparts. You cannot make a doormat tree begin growing by adding fertilizer. Absorption rates of nutrients by plant roots also vary dependent on several factors: salt levels in soil and high levels of other nutrients. Fertilizers specifically made for all sorts of varieties of bonsai are the best bet of any bonsai artist.

Blooming Bonsai!

azalea by walter pallSome azaleas and rhododendrons occasionally bloom twice – in the fall, as well as spring, depending upon the weather. For years, breeders have been trying to amplify this repeat bloom trait to achieve azaleas and rhododendrons that will bloom reliably every fall and spring. We have trialed several of these fall blooming azaleas and the results here in Zone 6 have been disappointing, although our trials continue and we have high hopes for one new variety which we are just starting to evaluate. However, we happened upon one deciduous azalea, with no reputation for reblooming, that blooms for us reliably every fall and spring year after year. This week we are featuring that azalea, the Northern Lights hybrid ‘Lemon Lights.’

Beginning about 20 years ago, The University of Minnesota began developing a new super hardy series of deciduous azaleas called Northern Lights. Their goal was to allow gardeners in colder areas to enjoy azaleas in their gardens. This series is also known for being extremely floriferous, putting on a stunning floral show in late spring. Coincidentally, a few cultivars in the series turned out to be quite fragrant and foliar fungus resistant.

‘Lemon Lights’ has striking two-toned lemon yellow flowers which are lighter at the outer edges of the petals and deeper at the throats. The flowers emit a powerful sweet citrus fragrance. The dark, glossy foliage has excellent resistance to powdery mildew and provides a beautiful contrast to the clear yellow blooms. Fall foliage color is maroon bronze. Expect ‘Lemon Lights’ to reach 5-6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Planting and Care

Deciduous azaleas prefer more sun than evergreen azaleas, although they do best with some protection from the hottest afternoon sun. When planting ‘Lemon Lights,’ select a site with almost full sun to light shade that has well-drained, acidic soil. Azaleas have a very shallow, fibrous root system and can dry out rapidly. For that reason, be sure to water during dry periods and hot summer days.

  • Does best in an area with well-drained soil in full sun to light shade.
  • Do not plant too deeply; place the top of the root mass level with the soil surface. Dig a shallow hole and backfill around the plant with equal parts mixture of organic compost and the existing soil.
  • Until established, do not allow the soil to dry out.
  • Fertilize with Kelp Meal when planting and again every year in early spring and late fall.
  • Hardy in zones 4-7.
  • Azalea Flowering Bonsai

    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