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Bonsai care: the tricks to follow
Bonsai care requires the adoption of a few simple steps, which concern watering, fertilizing and repotting. As for the administration of water, it depends on the species and the season. To understand if there is need to irrigate the plant, however, it is sufficient to place a finger on the soil: in the case in which it is wet, it means that there is no need for water. The bonsai must be watered with a nebulizer or a watering can (it is absolutely forbidden to immerse it in water): it is necessary to stop when water starts to flow from the drainage holes. It is good to avoid that the plant does not remain wet for too long, as well as the formation of water stagnation: radical rots could occur that would compromise its health. Although it is not possible to establish a universal rule on the frequency of irrigation, it is important to remember that they must be more consistent in spring and summer, during the vegetative period, and less regular in autumn and winter, when the bonsai can remain without water supplies. even for seven or eight days.
How to fertilize
On the other hand, fertilization must be handled with the utmost care: potted cultivation, in fact, prevents bonsai from being able to count on a lot of space available to find the nutrients that contribute to its growth. For this reason, the supply of fertilizer will prove to be a valid ally of vegetative development. It is precisely at the beginning of the vegetative growth, ie in March, April and May, that it is necessary to fertilize; alternatively, you can also proceed in September, October and November, that is to say in that period, before the winter rest, when the tree must "stock up" with nutrients. In garden centers specific fertilizers for bonsai are sold, in solid form (through grains to be placed on the ground) and in liquid form (to be diluted in the water of the watering once every seven days). Inside the fertilizer there are potassium (which helps to stimulate the photo-synthesis process), phosphorus (which favors the formation of roots) and nitrogen (which helps vegetative growth). The concentration of these macro-elements is expressly reported on the packages in alphabetical order, using numbers. In practice, if written 9-8-8 is reported, it means that in that fertilizer there are nine parts of nitrogen, eight parts of phosphorus and eight parts of potassium. Furthermore, inside the fertilizers there are also numerous micro-elements, including iron, magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese and zinc. You can choose to use chemical or organic fertilizers; the latter are characterized by the fact of making the nutrients available in a very gradual manner (not by chance they are referred to as slow release fertilizers). They also have the advantage of being easier to dose. While an overdose of organic fertilizer does not cause problems to the plant, in fact, a wrong dose of chemical fertilizer risks causing serious damage. It is good to take into account, in the administration of the products, that the evergreens need less fertilizer than the deciduous species, which need more energy to annually rebuild the leaves. In the care of bonsai, an important role is also played by repottings, which must be performed every two or three years (for young plants) and more rarely for older plants. If it is true that the development of the root system will gradually cause the water to cease to flow, it will be necessary to change the vessel, removing the seedling from the container in which it is located and placing it in a slightly larger container. Moreover, nothing prevents us from thinning the roots, removing the larger ones, without capillaries, and choosing to leave those ends. The finer the root mass will be, the thicker the foliage will be, since the plants will try to grow upwards.
Pruning, stapling, defoliation and wrapping
Speaking of foliage, it may be necessary, over the years, to resort to pruning operations, aimed at maintaining the shape of the bonsai. In practice, it is advisable to eliminate the "rebellious" shoots, which come out from the silhouette of the plant, applying, if necessary, correction techniques using wires and tie rods in order to improve the branching. In particular, through the winding the branch to be corrected is wrapped with anodised aluminum or copper wire, to make it go in the desired direction. The stapling, instead, foresees to pinch the leaflets with the fingers, to stimulate the new shoots and therefore to make the vegetation thicker. Finally, defoliation is put into practice to reduce the size of the leaves, making them more proportionate; as you can guess, it is implemented only on certain species, such as ficus.
Bonsai care: Protection from pests
In conclusion, the care of bonsai can not be separated from its protection against fungal infections and plant and animal parasites: it may be useful, therefore, to always have specific anti-parasite products on hand, to be used in case of need.