How To Water Bonsai
When we start out in Bonsai we all have the concern about how much we are watering, is it enough is it too much? Lets go over a few tips that could help you with watering success when it comes to bonsai.
How Often Do I Water My Bonsai?
This is something that cant just have a black and white answer, There are lots of factors that affect the amount we water our trees so lets list a few of those factors.
- Weather ( Heat / Cold ). Depending on the temperature your bonsai will require different amounts of water. Your tree much like you in the heat transpires, this transpiration is a method the tree uses to keep itself cool by moving water through its limbs and out through the leaves. The more the tree transpires due to heat the more water it will need to pull up from the pot though its roots to replenish this water. So in hotter weather naturally you will need to water more often. At least once a day in some but depending on a few other factors we will mention it could be 2 -3 times a day. In cooler weather this frequency will slow down as the tree transpires less.
- Wind, Wind is as bad as heat when it comes to the tree transpiring, this is because as the air moves over the leaf surface this dries the leaf. The tree will need to constantly replenish the moisture in the leaf through out a windy day to prevent the leaf from completely drying out.
- Tree Species, Some species will move water faster then others, for example a maple tree will move water far quicker then a juniper will, this is partly because the leaf on a maple is much thinner then that of a juniper so it transpires quicker, but that’s not the only reason. I cant list all the species here so it will be up to you to research your individual species you have to see if they need lots of water.
- Soil Type, There are 2 different types of soils used in bonsai, Organic and In-Organic. Organic soil will hold a lot more moisture in the pot then In-organic will so naturally trees in In-organic substrates like Akadama will need watering more often. You need to be careful with organic soil in a bonsai pot though as it may hold too much water, especially if you live in a part of the world that rains often.
- Pot size, The pot size can affect how quickly the water will move through the pot, a very shallow pot has a small gravity column acting on the water so it moves through the pot a lot slower than a taller pot.
- Humidity, If you live in a tropical environment that is very humid you may have to water less then those who live in an arid environment. Humidity actually slows the process of transpiration that we spoke about earlier.
- Tree health, If a tree is sick it may not take up water as fast so you need to be careful not to over water it and rot the roots, a tree that is healthy and fast growing will take up much more water so it will require water more often.
When To Water A Bonsai Tree
You need to take into consideration all the factors we spoke about above and work out how often you may need to water. Most people have full time jobs and are away from home all day so in this situation if the weather is in a situation that will cause the tree to transpire a lot I would give your trees a very good watering in the morning before you leave for work, make sure the pot is completely soaked the whole way through, don’t just sprinkle the surface with some water. If the weather is very hot or windy or both then you will probably have to give the tree another water in the late evening to help the trees get through the night period as well, keep in mind even if the temperatures are lower during the night if there is wind around your trees can still dry out.
How To Properly Water A Bonsai Tree?
Like mentioned above when you water don’t just give the surface a spray and walk away, you will want to ensure the root ball is fully soaked. To so this you will want to water the surface until there is a good amount of water on top of the soil and let it soak through, repeat this step multiple times until you see the water running out of the drainage holes on the bottom like a tap. Your tree will now be sufficiently watered.
What Do I Use To Water Bonsai?
It is recommended that you use a Bonsai Watering Wand. The wands are specially designed to put out a high volume of water while maintaining a very soft flow. This soft flow helps to reduce compaction on the soil surface which can cause your tree to stop taking up water and it also helps prevent washing away top dressing and fertilisers.
How Long Can Bonsai Go Without Water?
This will vary greatly from species to species, but a general rule of thumb is no matter the species you should never let the soil completely dry out, this can cause the root tips to dry up and die. Now some species like our natives here in Australia have a defence mechanism where they will sense a dry period and drop all their leaves and store water in their trunk and branches. By dropping the leaves this prevents the tree from transpiring any further and completely drying out. Once the tree believes there is sufficient water again it will put on new growth. Other species you wont get so lucky though, if they dry out they can die pretty quickly, keep in mind you will kill a tree quicker by under water then over watering. If you use a good in-organic mix it is pretty much impossible to over water a tree.
I hope this has helped you understand watering a little better and you have great success with your bonsai.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Bonsai Journey.