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So Santa gave you a Bonsai...

How will you care for your new bonsai tree?

The chances are great that you have been given an "indoor" tree. These trees grow outside in their natural environment which is tropical or sub-tropical. When you keep the tree indoors you are trying to create it's natural environment artificially so it is always a compromise. Common varieties include Chinese Elm, Serissa (Tree of a thousand stars), Sagaretia, Ligustrum, Ficus, Podocarpus, Buxus, and Carmona.

I have kept most varieties of indoor bonsai successfully for many years. I hope this care sheet below will help you get a lot of pleasure from your new acquisition.


Position - Trees need sunlight and therefore the bonsai should be placed in a bright window. You may experiment to find the best room for your tree.

If you close the curtains at night bring the tree into the room to avoid it being left in a cold spot.

Watering - The tree needs to be kept evenly moist. Touch the soil daily until you get used to the tree, and as soon as it begins to dry, water it. If the tree is in its original soil then the best way to water is to completely submerge the pot in a sink or bowl for 5 minutes. Once the tree has been repotted it can be given a good soaking with a watering can and submerging is no longer necessary.

The warmer the weather or room the quicker it will dry out and therefore the more frequently you will have to water it. In the summer months this could be every day, whereas in the winter months the tree may last several days before requiring more water.

Feeding - The tree should be fed in the growing season and more sparingly during the winter months. We have both granular and chemical feeds available. Ask us for further details and always follow the instructions given. The tree should not be fed for eight weeks after being repotted.

Pests and Diseases - This threat is generally not serious and they are very similar to other houseplants. Watch out for aphids and if an attack is visible or suspected, spray with a proprietary product and again follow the manufacturers instructions. Sticky leaves are another sign of an aphid attack. Chinese Elms are allergic to systemic sprays and only a mild contact spray should be used. We have both types in stock.

Avoid mist spraying the foliage especially in the evening as this can lead to problems with mildew.

Repotting - Your tree will need repotting every 2-3 years. This involves combing out the roots, cutting away a third and replacement in the pot with some fresh compost. We offer a complete repotting service.

Pruning - Let new shoots grow to approximately 2 inches or 6 leaves and then prune back to the outline required. Do not be frightened to cut these shoots back. It will not harm the tree and it is beneficial for both health and appearance.

I hope you enjoy your bonsai and if you really get hooked we have a bonsai school with classes for everyone, from the complete novice to the experienced enthusiast. Please click here for details. If you need more specific help please check out our new Bonsai Clinic!