Watering & Feeding Bonsai Trees

What is The Best Fertilizer For Bonsai

[WATCH VIDEO] Watering & feeding bonsai trees with good fertilizer is essential for good longevity. This is like watching my grandfather in his garden, telling me about all the secrets of gardening while tending to all his plants and vegetables when I was a kid. Bless his eternal soul and thank you especially for sharing YOUR knowledge.

Peter is the man. He is the samurai of bonsai, if that makes sense. He’s more than a master. Thanks Peter for all the videos. Can you do more videos on root pruning, and cover red woods more ? Also I enjoyed how you covered reverse osmosis

How could somebody buy such a long grown and expensive tree and forget to water it? It really must hurt the sellers soul (and that of any other bonsai lover).

One of the biggest killers of Bonsai is watering, whether to much or too little. All year round receive questions on how much and when to water. In this video I give you some guidance on watering feeding your bonsai trees. Today I’m going to talk about watering and feeding withcorrect fertilizer of your bonsai I’m because many of you have asked me to do a video about watering and feeding watering and feeding us so important to bonsai that I’m wondering why I haven’t done this topic before most of us take it for granted but believe you me watering is so important that there are people who do forget to water and they wonder why their plants died I remember once when I started the nursery way back in 1986 I sold a lovely red D shoujo maple to a customer and this customer brought it back to me after three weeks completely shriveled up and dead so before she could say anything I could see her carrying this shriveled up tree with all dead leaves almost like crepe paper and I just asked her didn’t you water this tree and she turns and said to me no one told me that you had to water the tree so I couldn’t believe what I was hearing so there are people who are bit naive and simple like that but I’m sure most of you are not as silly as this dear lady who thought that you didn’t have to water the tree and it would continue to live well watering I would say is the single most important aspect of bonsai care I think it is even slightly more important than feeding but watering let’s start with watering first is as I said the most important aspect of one’s eye care all living beings whether they’re plants or animals need water in which to survive if you do not water a tree or you do not drink water or you donor give you a pet water they will die so watering is absolutely key and in my experience I would say of all the dead trees that are brought back to our nursery ninety five to I would say ninety nine percent of all the cases of failure of the bonsai is one forgetting to water I have in front of me here this ficus is quite shriveled up and this is an example again a customer brought this tree into us this morning and said why is this tree looking so sad and I said you’ve not been watering it and the soil is so so dry so this is one case where people forget to water well what does watching do you can read up a lot about watering if you just google why do plants need water you’ll find enough information so I’m not going to go into the scientific theory behind watering suffice it to say that water provides the medium through which the plants are able to take the water up through the roots and into the leaves and provide that exchange with the air so that the photosynthesis can take place when the water transpires to the leaves it exchanges it with carbon dioxide and then the Sun plays on the leaves and you get the plant foods being produced by photosynthesis so that very briefly is what water does so it is taken up by the roots and then up to the trunk and then into the leaves so that is the purpose of water and how much we give when we give it and at what time can be a subject of immense literature and discussion now in the temperate climate where I live we normally water I’m talking now on ponds I generally let’s talk about the outdoor bonsai in in the UK and Western in the winter form I would say the end of October to early March it is always wet and cold and there’s so much rain that the outdoor bonsai can be left outside and the rain and the damp will keep the soil moist so we don’t have to water when it is very cold we may put it in the greenhouse and when it’s in the greenhouse because it’s covered you may need to water because rain does not fall in the trees under cover or if you put it in the shed for protection you may still need to water in the winter if you live in the tropical country where you get the monsoon rains from say middle of June to end of October you get torrential rain on certain days but there are days when you can go through a stretch of about three or four days when you don’t get any water at all so you’ll need to water on the days when it doesn’t rain so even in monsoon climates I find that the rain is not always sufficient because this heat is so intense and causes so much evaporation that you will have to water even if it has rained you’ve got to feel the soil and if the leaves are wilting you will need to water so at different times of the year you will have to judge how much water to give so again talking from our temperate climate point of view we water from I would say the beginning of March right to end of October when I usually water each of our bonsai twice a day morning time and evening time I avoid the midday Sun because it’s not so much that they burn the leaves but if you water in the midday Sun the evaporation is so intense that most of the water will be lost by evaporation on an area’s largest arse we spent thousands and thousands of pounds on our water bill because we have seven or eight acres of fuel to water by hand and then all the bonsai in the greenhouses have to be watered so the different times of the year and the different times of the day you’ve got to remember how to water I will show you in a minute how you water the outdoor trees with the horse pipe or watering can and let’s talk about the indoor bonsai very briefly I don’t want to take you into our green house but I may take you later on but this is a typical bonsai that most of you will have and you will keep it in the house and when it’s kept in the house you need to make sure that it gets water virtually I would say almost every day during the summer and in the winter also if you’re heating or is quite warm you may need to feel the soil to see whether the soil is damp or dry now this tree hasn’t been watered for a couple of days we kept it dry especially to do this video and I can feel that is destroy the best way to check is to make sure that the soil is always feeling them don’t take the risk of letting it dry out some people advise you to let it dry so that it becomes powder dry I don’t think that is a good practice make sure that the soil is always adequately moist so with a tree like this this again is fairly dry we can have a close look at the soil but when you’re growing trees indoors again this is typical small indoor bonsai we stand them on little trays so that when you water it the water that flows through the drainage holes will collect in a little under tray like this so if you have a small watering can you can just water the soil like so this is one way of doing it there are many different ways of doing it or you can take it to your kitchen sink and water there some people even immersed whole thing in a washing of bull that is also acceptable make sure that you sink it into the bowl to the water bubbles and when there are no more bubbles then I think all the soil has filled up and you can wash the leaves some people prefer to just spray it with a little misting spray like this but don’t rely on this completely I remember a lady bringing a half-dead tree to me and I asked her how to water the tree so I said I miss the leaves so all she was doing is misting the leaves with the little mister and that she thought was watering and not watering the roots at all I think misting is only secondary it’s to keep the thing looking fresh and turgid but the main watering should be done into the soil there you don’t have to use the sophisticated watering can you can use a water bottle or you can use a tumbler or glass to water so there are different ways of watering and if you have a lot of houseplants you can take it somewhere maybe to the boss and use a cool or tepid shower and use the showerhead to water so as long as the Sun gets water that should be enough so and depending on the size of the tree the larger the pot for the larger tree would need water more water than a smaller pot but make sure that the soil is always done and how frequently to water again there is no hard and fast rule because if your room is warmed it will dry out more quickly so you may have to water more frequently I would say that during the summer most indoor trees would need to be watered about once a day but the test is ready to fill the soil so there are no hard and fast rules as to whether do you do it once a day or once every two days you’ve just got to feel the soil while I’m talking about watering the position of the plants is very important if you keep indoor bonsai you should always keep it where it gets maximum light so you keep it on a windowsill or by a large window it will get a lot of light and that is ideal for the plants after all all living beings whether there are plants animals or human beings and here we are talking about what plants need I would say three or four essential things the most essential thing is water to keep you alive and filled up and turgid the second thing is food the plant food and then it needs air and bright sunlight so those are the ingredients for healthy growth you need water nutrients which is feed sunlight and fresh air and the plants need air because they take carbon dioxide from the air to produce the food for the leaves so that basically is how plants grow and you can see why water plays such an important part in the health of the tree so we will go out and show you how we water our bonsai collection of course this is a commercial nursery so I may be watering with a very powerful hose pipe but even if you didn’t do it that way there are other ways I will be showing you how you can water it one little trick that you may want to learn is the use of gravel on the under tray this is just ordinary quartz gravel and it serves two purposes it meets the under trail look nice but it also also helps to keep the water in the tray longer so it doesn’t evaporate so fast so it provides some humidity so if you put some gravel on the tray so that when you’ve watered the water will stand in that pebble and then it can give some moisture from below but you will have to wash the gravel from time to time because after one or two weeks it starts getting slimy and green so it may not look so nice but at least it serves its purpose so the use of gravel has some function but I would say it’s more decorative than anything else but if you wish to do it for your indoor plants it’s a nice thing to do if you don’t then the water just collects in the tray like so see how are useful that trace is it’s collected all the water that has come through the pot and as you know all plants have to be well-drained you cannot stand a plant in water permanently and hence bonsai pots always have large drainage holes even a small pot like this has two holes here some people ask me can you overwater a tree now in theory you cannot overwater tree because if you use the right compost the water will flow through it especially in the outdoor bonsai because you are not standing it on a tree any excess water will in fact drain through the pot sometimes if you live in a very wet climate like in the monsoons and if it’s rained too much if you stand the tree on edge the water will come through like this so that’s another tip I can pass on so so much for the use of gravel for the under tree what do you do when you go on holiday I said at the start of this video that more than 90% of trees that die die from forgetting to water and one of the most dangerous times for any bonsai is when people go away for holidays two or three weeks at a time or even if you go for a long weekend for two or three days and if you don’t water and if you have it in a very warm room and a warm Sun it can dry out very quickly so don’t forget to make arrangements for watering your bonsai when you go on holiday I know a lot of people they bring back dead trees to me and when asked them why did they die they say that I left it with my children to water and the children forgot to water the tree and just before they came back they watered it and they told me that they watered it but I know that they didn’t water it while I was away and hence the tree is dead so when you go on holiday what do you do well there are all sorts of methods that people try one of them is to use a deep bowl like so and they immerse the whole tree like this and fill it up with water and hope that the tree will survive I don’t think that’s a very good idea because if you flood the roots the roots are not able to breathe so if you leave it flooded for two or three weeks you will kill the tree because the water has not trained through the pot so do not do that I think the best thing to do is to leave your trees with a very reliable person a neighbor or friend who understands watering show them how to water it so that they learn how to water while you’re away and this applies to both indoor and outdoor trees I think a lot of people especially who are not into one side they just squirt the leaves with water or just squirt the surface of the soil and they think it’s watered but when I showed you in the video of the outdoor trees I usually go back to a tree three times to make sure the water has penetrated because sometimes when you water very briefly only the surface gets wet it doesn’t penetrate enough and hence the importance of going back to the tree about two or three times to make sure the water has really really filled in another device which I have found on the market is this little wick watering system now this is a plastic container which holds water and it has a hole here and then you have like a felt wick which sucks the water up and if you put the wick on top of the tree it’s supposed to transfer the water into the pot it may work but I think you have to keep a very close eye on it and make sure it’s really doing the job or even immerse the wick into the root ball bury the wicked to the root ball but somehow although we do sell it because customers asked for it I don’t think it is the substitute for proper washing doing it manually where they can or with a horse pipe so although these are sold and we do sell it I think I would sell it with a word of caution that do be careful they are not the most efficient form of watering there is no substitute for doing proper watering with a can or a hose pipe so there you go so much for watering and the Holliday care when we water our outdoor trees you can do it using a horse pipe or a watering can or so many other devices you can use watering can is useful if you just have a few plants you can water the trees like this just water the soil and water the foliage I know that these are very large bonsai but if you have small trees what we do is you can start by watering the soil and then also water the leaves to wash any dust off the secret of watering is to make sure that this soil gets completely soaked so it’s not enough to just do like 10 seconds of the water what I normally do is I water it for about 10 seconds to ten like this and then after about one or two minutes go where and more to something else and come back and do it another 10 seconds go away and come back again I normally do the trees three times for 10 seconds so every tree is bigger and you may need to do it for longer but the secret is to make sure you really soak the root ball otherwise it will not get enough water and as for the time of watching there are many theories about what is the best time to water but in my view I think the best time is in the morning before the Sun gets too hot and in the early evening so if you are going out to work it would be ideal to do it before you go to work and then do it again in the evening this applies to summer I’ll talk to you more about different times in the year what watering regime you need and that was with the watering can I’ll show some other tricks that I do when I do watering so I will show you how I do it with our horse pipe on our nursery I use the hose pipe but I just put the finger on the hose pipe and I get a very fine jet of water like this I’m not sure if any of you do this but this is my favorite method of watering just using the hose pipe like this to make a fine mist or a spray so again I water the tree for about 10 seconds then go to another tree and then come back after about 1 or 2 minutes do it again for 10 seconds go away three times so this is using the hosepipe just putting your finger on to it there are other ways as well you can also use some of these commercial roses like this it produces a very fine spray of water and this is also good but I still prefer of my thumb over the horse pipe because I can adjust the jet of the water using that by using this I can adjust the jet however phi-1 you see using the end of my finger I can make it go about 20 feet of course the water pressure on our nursery is quite high it’s almost like a fireman’s fire hydrant and then if I want to I can just go to about 2 feet so the thumb is so versatile in adjusting the distance you can water this is a very expensive Japanese brass hose that I bought from Japan you can see how fine the holes are it really produces a very fine almost miss like water if you have a few trees and small trees this would be okay but there are no hard and fast rules you can either use a watching can or on whose pipe with the rules at the end but the main thing is to make sure that the trees get plenty of water so you water the leaves and you water the soil watering the leaves helps to wash the dust off each day it also helps to keep the leaves Sergent but the main thing is to provide the pot and the soil with water and the timing I tell you the best time is morning and evening this quite a lot of different thoughts about watering in the midday Sun many people believe that if you water in the midday Sun the hot Sun can cause scorching because the water droplets act as a magnifying glass and can scorch the leaves that is only a theory that some people have put forward I personally don’t believe that that happens because we water also sometimes in the midday Sun and it doesn’t tend to scorch the leaves most of the scorching of leaves occurs when you forget to water and the leaves are becomes so dry that the ends get burnt so with the large nursery like this we start watering in the morning and water continuously from 9:00 to 6:00 on a hot summer’s day so although I said that you can water throughout the day the main thing is to make sure that the trees get watered and I know that it’s not ideal to do it right in the middle of the day but as you can see we have a huge inner Surrey with about 20 or more thousand plants so we have to be watering throughout the day so that we managed to get all the trees covered we now move on to feeding the trees now feeding the trees is about providing nutrients for the plants and all plants need food like human beings need food and nutrients plants also need food if we look at any fertilizer package you will see we will show some about commercial fertilizers they all have a label which says what the composition of the Finas and usually there are the three letters NPK n stands for nitrogen P stands for phosphorous and K stands for the potassium so the NPK is about the constituents of the plant food so these are commercial fertilizers that we use there are all sorts of proprietary brands I won’t mention the names because I don’t want to do advertising for different firms the Japanese produce their own bonsai fertilizer and they are very good and you can use virtually any fertilizer so I’m not fussy about that now a few words about feeding the fertilizer you can get either in liquid form which is sold in a bottle concentrated so you have to dilute this or you can use solid 40 fertilizer if you use the solid granular fertilizer for an indoor plant as small as this you can just put a few grids maybe about 20 little grains like this and that will be enough to last you at least two months but we prefer not to use the solid fertilizer for indoor trees because it always is messy and when it gets wet mold starts forming on it so it looks unsightly but I personally believe that the solid fertilizer is better value and it has more nutrients when you buy the liquid feed most of the liquid feed you’re buying is water and it has to be diluted I know but it’s still in water form so you’re paying a lot of the water and the nutrients is minimal but when you use this you still have to dilute it so the dilution this cap here has a little measuring device and you measure like one capful to about 300 milliliters or so so they usually give instructions as to what to do so this has to be diluted and so you can use both the solid feed or the liquid feed for indoor plants but the outdoor trees I do not recommend the liquid feed because it’s very wasteful it’s very expensive way of feeding it’s much better to use the solid fertilizer so we will show you how we will feed the outdoor trees your bonds I only need to be fed during the growing season so in the winter time you don’t feed because the plant is not going yeah we are in the temperate zone so we feed our trees from I would say early May or the end of April even and right up to I would say early September in the wintertime we do not feed our trees so we do not feed the trees because they are not growing so you only feed it when it’s growing so the nutrients is to supply the tree with nutrients to feed the the entire structure that the leaves produces the carbohydrates through photosynthesis and it goes into the branches and the trunk so so much for feeding and the time of the year so it’s done during the growing season the conifers because they are evergreen you can feed them a bit earlier you can start feeding from say very early spring in March and continue maybe right up to early October and that will keep it nice and green so you can use any fertilizer this a Japanese fertilizer but any plant food is fine in the early spring we use a high nitrogen fertilizer so anything with 10% nitrogen is nice ten seven seven something like that is good in the spring or even chicken manure is very good in the early spring and in the autumn you can reduce it to a low nitrogen but a high potash high P&K fertilizer there are some people I’ve read in some literature that they use zero nitrogen in the autumn I do not recommend that I have said so in some of my books if you use a zero nitrogen fertilizer and if you use it too much or if you use tomato fertilizer tomato fertilizers to ripen tomatoes it is not for ripening bonsai if you use a zero nitrogen it will make the tree go yellow so it will cause chlorosis so use a low nitrogen but high potash in the autumn so remember high nitrogen in the spring maybe up to 10 or 12 nitrogen maybe 12 5 7 and then in the autumn use a low nitrogen maybe something like 3 10 15 or something like that so as long as the P and K is high nitrogen is low that is good for the autumn and that produces very good color in the maples especially but it also strengthens the evergreens so how much fertilizer to use now this is again some of these solid pellets and I like to use the small pellets like this so the small pellets are easier to go into the soil because I have experience I just sprinkle enough to go around the pot if you want to be more scientific you can either measure it in terms of a teaspoon or a tablespoon usually for larger trees like this this part must be every bit 45 to 50 centimeter long so for large trees like this in the spring I put about I would say two tablespoons in the early spring and then I wait for about three months so if this is the end of April I don’t feel again till about end of June and then maybe early July I will give it another feed and that may be enough sometimes if I want to I may give very high P&K feed I would say around about early August so two tablespoons usually lasts about two months a small tree like this which is only about I would say that is not even 30 maybe 20 25 centimeter one teaspoon like that every two months is efficient there is a type of Japanese fertilizer you find I think they call it rape cheap cake which is like little sweets you know they’re about one inch diameter balls and people put it on and releases the fertilizer slowly you can use that but as long as you feed the tree that’s all that you need to do and the frequency is important but you don’t need to feed too much what happens if you feed the tree too much I will just mention something which is highly scientific and that is called reverse osmosis if you look up the internet about reverse osmosis you learn more about reverse osmosis happens when you put too much fertilizer on a plant in the pot of about this size if you put like I would say six or ten tablespoons of fertilizer the fertilizer will be so strong that the plant will not be able to take up moisture the whole system will be filled with the fertilizer that it has to throw out the fertilizer and it will not be able to take water in and that is what reserve reverse osmosis is so read up about it on the internet so be warned too much of a good thing can be bad for the tree you

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