I have been caring for three bonsai plants over the last couple years and I have really enjoyed watching them slowly grow and take shape. I have a trident maple, a ficus, and also a serissa foetida. I love the red/orange colour of the maple in the autumn and the serissa has tiny white flowers in spring. They haven’t grown dramatically since I have had them but that is probably because I have been very hesitant about using any bonsai fertilizer!
I know that bonsai are really just a small version of a regular tree/plant but because they are so different I haven’t given them any fertilizer. Basically this is because I didn’t want to do the wrong thing!
I have had some small pellets of slow release bonsai fertilizer for some time but I have not been sure about when and how to use it. I wasn’t sure how often to use the pellets and whether or not there was some special way that bonsai plants should be fertilized.
I know that with most plants you don’t fertilize over winter because you don’t want to encourage new grown when it is too cold. But I wanted to know whether there are any special rules that you need to follow when using bonsai fertilizer. So just the other day I decided that I couldn’t put it off any longer and I did some searching online so that I could learn about using bonsai fertilizer.
The main thing that I found out is that bonsai plants need to be fertilized in a similar way to non-bonsai plants. For example a bonsai azalea should be fertilized in a similar way to regular azalea plants!
Once I found this out the thought of using bonsai fertilizer wasn’t near as daunting as before! However, there still are a few important points to consider when using bonsai fertilizer. Here are some of the general tips that I have learnt about using bonsai fertilizer.
Useful Tips When Using Bonsai Fertilizer
- you don’t actually need a specialised bonsai fertilizer, any good plant fertilizer will do,
- be aware of the Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) ratios of the fertilizer,
- nitrogen promotes shoots and leaf growth, phosphorous promotes root growth, and potassium promotes flower and fruit growth,
- the majority of plants require fertilizer from spring through to autumn but you need to consider the individual needs of the plant that you have,
- consider the stage that your bonsai is at; well established bonsai trees may require a different fertilizer mix to younger trees,
- be careful not to use too much fertilizer; small frequent doses are best,
- don’t fertilize sick bonsai plants,
I also found this useful video on YouTube which explains the basics of how to fertilize a bonsai.
Orlando BonsaiTV: Bonsai How-To – Fertilizers for Bonsai
I have small pebbles around the top of my bonsai trees so I put a few pellets of solid bonsai fertilizer just underneath the pebbles so that they won’t wash away whenever I water the trees.