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Bonsai Care Tips

BONSA~10 Aftercare and development of Bonsai


While understanding the fact we need to water, feed and repot from time to time, the most important aspect of Bonsai and Penjing care is the maintenance or ongoing after care.

  1. Wiring a tree and unwiring is a regular event and takes place in most species once a year and sometimes twice in warmer countries with different and fast growing species.
  2. Checking wires to ensure that it is not biting onto the structure is an ongoing and daily chore.
  3. Cutting the wire off stage by stage is necessary-usually from the strongest parts first such as apex, tips of branches etc.
  4. A regime of correct feeding will need to take place to make sure that the tree is healthy.
  5. Checking for insects is an ongoing and daily part of the cycle which will include a soil drench to combat sub surface pests.
  6. Turning the tree around every week to make sure that equal growth is happening.
  7. Removing moss from lower trunk area and nebari-surface roots. Both to stop dampness on the bark and insects being harboured in that area.
  8. Weed removal is also a weekly chore and this is important to increase the amount of food available to the tree rather than the weeds.
  9. Placement through the year to either gain light or reduce light such as in mid summer days when the trees may need some shade.
  10. Constant pruning of tops unless growing onto a shape. Tip pruning is to encourage new twigs and so increase ramification or twig structure development.
  11. Taking photographs twice a year, in leaf and out of leaf if a deciduous tree. This is to let you see the development of the tree.
  12. Protection in cooler climates over winter or on high elevations on cooler climates throughout the year where frost can hit any time in the year.

Article written by Craig Coussins and from his fourth book, Bonsai Masterclass-available from Amazon.

Craig Coussins  designs a Hinoki Cypress

It does not matter what the tree is that you design but this example shows the potential of a basic garden plant into a Bonsai.

Hinoki Cypress-Chamaecyparis obtusa. This was  designed at the Mid Atlantic Bonsai Societies. The bush was grown as a garden plant but was purchased to make a Bonsai. I spent the previous day preparing the tree, wiring all the branches etc, which left me time to explain what I was doing and how I was to do it. I believe that many potentially good Bonsai are lost when not enough effort is put into the demonstration. When I am privileged to be invited for a major event I insist on getting the previous day to prep large material and take the time to study it. Its not about showing off and making a bonsai suddenly appear in an hour. Its about creating art and making sure that it stays alive at the end of it. Perhaps entertaining my audience as well. Cant do those if I am not sure what I want to do with the material. I enjoy finding the tree in the wood!

Images are in Sequence see my website

There are a number of other stylings here






Bonsai Soil

© Budi Setiawan - Fotolia.comChoosing the right bonsai soil is a very important factor if you want to have a healthy bonsai plant. Bonsai is a plant that has undergone special cultivation process to make it appears small. Bonsai plants actually are the same as their bigger versions, but the roots are pruned regularly so they will only grow to a certain small size.

Bonsai needs a lot of moisture and nutrients to survive. In this case, bonsai soil plays a very important role because it should be able to hold sufficient amount of moisture as well as hold nutrients to be the plant’s food. In addition, bonsai soil needs to be mixed appropriately so it has good air circulation for the roots and able to drain water properly. Since many bonsai lovers need good quality soil, there are many ready-mix bonsai soils available in the gardening stores and nurseries. You should understand that these bonsai soils are quite expensive. Moreover, you will need to spend more because your bonsai will need repotting every year or two.

In order to save cost, some bonsai planters have decided to make their own bonsai soil. Basic materials that you need to make this soil are dead plant substances and several forms of organic matter. These materials are mixed together to make a good bonsai soil mixture. The type of your bonsai plants affects how you should make your own bonsai soil because each has its own needs. For example, some bonsai plants require soil that can retain water, while others can do well without a lot of water.

If you are relatively new in the art of bonsai making, it is better for you to buy ready mix bonsai soil before you try to make one by your own. This is to make sure that you can grow a healthy bonsai first rather than making pig’s food from your soil experiments.


As mentioned briefly, bonsai needs to be repotted periodically. You will need to change the soil during this process so it can supply sufficient nutrients for the plants. In addition, repotting is also the time for you to prune the roots of your bonsai. Some roots grow rapidly, while others grow slowly. In general, you need to repot your bonsai every year or two years.

This is also another reason why bonsai planters make their own bonsai soil. In many cases, it is more practical and economical to make bonsai soil from various organic matters around your house than purchasing bonsai soil mixtures from stores and nurseries. You do not need to buy organic materials to make your own bonsai soil and this is also a good way to recycle your organic matters.

By Cindy Heller