How to water a bonsai and avoid problems with watering?

Watering a bonsai is delicate

Bonsai are plants that, after having worked on them for a long time (sometimes decades), humans have managed to give them a style and elegance without equal. In fact, it is hard to believe that they are actually trees; Not surprisingly, when we think of them, large and very tall plants come to mind that seem to want to touch the sky with their branches. But perhaps that is why they attract us so much attention and we decide to acquire one.

Now, doubts assail us from the first moment we get home with it, the most important being how to water a bonsai. Water is the essential element for life, but How often do you have to give it and in what quantity?

When to water a bonsai?

The watering of the bonsai has to be followed

The irrigation of the bonsai must be followed

Irrigation is, we are not going to fool you, the task that is most difficult to master. On the one hand, if you water too much the roots will rot, but if you water less … the roots will dry out. To this must be added that bonsai grow in trays that are generally low and rather narrow, in which very little substrate fits. This substrate, if it is exposed to the sun directly, will lose its moisture quickly, so much so that if the human is not attentive it could be without a plant in a matter of hours in midsummer.

Can anything be done to avoid that upset? Yes, of course, but it is not easy. To know when to water them it is important to take into account several factors:

  • Weather: the temperature, the rains, the humidity, the wind … all this directly influences the plants, and of course also the bonsai. In principle, you have to know that the warmer and drier, the frequency of irrigation will be higher than if it is cool and humid.
  • Location: those bonsai that are grown outdoors will require more frequent waterings than those that are indoors. This is so because outdoors the substrate takes less time to dry when exposed to the sun. The air barely runs in the house (compared to what happens outside it), and also the sun does not reach the substrate directly, so it remains humid for longer.
  • Substratum: Substrates such as peat or mulch absorb moisture and stay that way for a longer period of time than akadama, pumice or other mineral substrates. Learn More.
  • Pot size: it is true that the bonsai trays are all more or less equal in size, but it is necessary to know that the smaller it is, the less substrate it will have and, therefore, the more it will be necessary to water.

So, based on what has been said, when do you have to water them? Well, the short answer but no less clarifying is: when necessary. Yes, I know, I’m not telling you anything with that, so I’m going to explain myself: during the summer you might have to water every dayeven two or three times a day, especially if you have them outside, in the sun, and the climate is very hot and dry. In winter these irrigations will be widely spacedevery 4-5 days or so. The rest of the year you have to keep seeing and checking the humidity of the substrate so as not to overdo it with watering.

How to water bonsai?

When watering your bonsai it is necessary that you prepare what you are going to use, which in this case is a specific watering can for bonsai (for sale here!), and rainwater, or failing that, bottled for human consumption or without lime. You got it? Then the next step is to fill the watering can with water and proceed to moisten the entire substrate well.

Water well over the entire surface, until you see that it comes out through the drainage holesbeing well soaked. In the event that you use a peat-based substrate and the water is directed to the sides instead of being absorbed, do not hesitate to take the bonsai and place the pot or tray in a basin of water for a few minutes. In this way, the substrate will regain its ability to properly drain the precious liquid.

And if you have a plate underneath it, remember to remove the excess water after each watering.

Lack and excess of watering in bonsai: how to solve these problems?

Dried bonsai can sometimes be recovered

Dry bonsai can sometimes be recovered

Bonsai can often have problems, both due to lack and overwatering. What steps to take to get them healthy again? Let’s talk about it:

Lack of irrigation

Lack of watering is a problem you can identify by looking at bonsai. The most common symptoms are the following:

  • Dry leaf tips
  • Fall of leaves, stems and flowers
  • Flower abortion
  • Dry substrate

To solve it, you have to cut the dry parts with previously disinfected scissors, and then put the pot or tray in a container with water for a few minutes.

Excess irrigation

Excess water is very common in bonsai, especially in those that are being grown indoors. Let’s know what the symptoms are:

  • Young leaves turn brown
  • Lower leaves yellow
  • Fall of leaves
  • Appearance of fungi in roots, stems or in the rest of the plant

Recovering them when they have suffered excess water is not easy; however you can try. To do this, you have to follow this step by step:

  1. Cut off the parts that are yellow and / or brown with clean scissors.
  2. Then remove the plant from the tray to wrap the root ball or soil bread with absorbent kitchen paper, and leave it like that overnight.
  3. Then replant it in the bonsai tray and treat with fungicide.
  4. Finally, place it in a bright area, and do not water until you see that the soil is dry.

Should the leaves be sprayed / sprayed with water?

It is customary for indoor plants, and consequently also bonsai grown indoors, to be sprayed with water. But …, although each teacher has his book , From my point of view it is something that should not be done for the reasons that I expose below:

No good ventilation

Not enough to prevent disease. If the plant is a little weak, any spores could germinate and cause serious damage to the leaves … and therefore we could get to lose it.

Risk of suffocation is high

Although the leaves absorb water through the pores on their surface, if these remain constantly humid in the end they will run out of air and they will die.

Therefore, if you live in a house where the humidity is low, it is much better if you buy a humidifier or put glasses with water around itso that you notice that the humidity is high near it but without causing problems.

Outdoor bonsai need more frequent waterings than indoor bonsaiOutdoor bonsai need more frequent watering than indoor ones.

Image – Flickr / jacinta lluch valero

We hope it has been useful to you.

How to water a bonsai and avoid problems with watering?

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