1. Know your tree
Different trees have different needs and growth rate. Some trees like a lot of sun while others will grow happily in the shade. Trees like hawthorn, maple, pine, juniper and elm flourish outdoors while trees like azalea, gardenia and ficus do well indoors. Familiarize yourself with the specific care of the tree species you have chosen so you’ll know what they need and when.
2. Use the right soil
The kind of soil you use for your bonsai will affect its care. Different tree species prefer different soil types. Deciduous trees, for example, prefer 70% humus and 30% grit and needled evergreen trees like 30% humus and 70% grit. However, these are just general rules. To get the proper soil type mix for your bonsai, do some research on your chosen tree or ask your bonsai tree supplier for proper ratios.
3. Use enough water
Improper watering is the single most common cause of bonsai troubles and it’s a little bit tricky. How much and how often you water will depend on several factors, including weather, humidity, pot size and the soil’s water retention. Best check your soil for signs of dryness or over-watering. Keep it moist, not dry or soaking wet.
To make sure that water does not pool in the bottom of your bonsai pot, use one with drainage holes. This will allow excess water to flow from the pot and store only enough moisture to keep the soil nice and damp. Generally, bonsai will do well with daily or every other day watering.
4. Feed your bonsai
Use water-soluble fertilizer about once a month, twice at most. Which fertilizer to use will depend on your choice of tree species, so check which one will supply your bonsai tree with enough nutrients. When applying fertilizer, make sure the soil is wet. Don’t use fertilizer when your bonsai is in bad shape or if you have just transferred it to another pot. Feed only after about 3 to 4 weeks after repotting.