Out of all the difficulties of growing and maintaining a Bonsai tree, watering has to be the number one thing that people seem to struggle with. Aside from the succulent family, most plants are difficult to keep alive in the beginning stages. Over and under watering your tree could make a big difference in both its health and size, along with how deep you plant your seeds.
Don’t fret, you can turn your plant around as long as you’re able to recognize the signs!
The Color of Your Leaves is a Major Indicator
A lush and healthy tree should have lush, deeply colored leaves that bend with ease. Over watering is usually where people go wrong, but your plant doesn’t have to die in order for you to nurse it back to health.
Look at the edges of your leaves, are they turning brown or wilting? This is sometimes confused for fungal issues, but the real issue is that your Bonsai is suffocating. With too much moisture, the soil becomes compacted and bogged down, not allowing air to make it through to the roots. While you don’t want your roots exposed to sunlight, you do need them to have access to air, or you will see fungus.
When you stick your fingers into the soil, its okay to really get in there! If you’re leaves start looking like crispy potato chips, you definitely need to give them a little more to drink.
Soil Composition is Detrimental to Bonsai Health
You might be able to do it with flowers and herbs, but trees have a root system that is a little more complex. A little bit of dirt might work for early germination, but your tree is eventually going to need a stronger medium to survive. Mix things up with layers of peat moss, sand, and soil the way your tree would naturally grow in the wild.
Add peat moss and nutrients to your soil periodically to ensure that your Bonsai root growth isn’t stunted, and don’t forget to cut back your limbs. Of course you want a specific shape in the end, but without cutting roots and arms your Bonsai might get too big for your home.
How Deep are You Planting Your Seeds?
When planting seeds, new gardeners are often afraid to place them too deep in the soil. However, you should definitely push your seedlings at least two inches, or about half of your finger into the dirt.
Remember, this is a tree! It’s going to stretch out, so it’s important that you give the trunk and the roots enough space to gain their footing. Your Bonsai tree’s trunk especially needs support during the younger stages.
Once you’ve planted your seeds, keep them out of the sunlight for about three to four days while they germinate. This gives them plenty of time to crack open and produce the first set of leaves without over exposing them. Once you see the top of the seed come out of the soil, go ahead and place it in the sun.