Yes, the weather is still warm. But the autumn and winter months are just around the corner. And for bonsai enthusiasts living in the North, the first step will be bringing your tropical and sub-tropical trees indoors.
The timing is different for everyone, based on your trees' species and gardening zone. But the general rule of thumb says it's time to bring your bonsai indoors when the nightly temperature is expected to be as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That may seem like a long time from now, but preparation is essential - and you can get started today.
Treat your bonsai with insecticides
Before bringing trees indoors, it is very important to treat them and make certain they are insect-free. There are many pesticides available on the market. For the safest alternative we recommend Neem Oil, a natural pesticide and fungicide treatment available as a spray and root-fed systemic.
Neem Oil provides excellent control for aphids, white flies, mealy bugs, root weevils, nematodes, slugs, and other pests. It also protects against powdery mildew, rust, scale, and black spot. Neem Oil is non-harmful to humans and animals, and is even beneficial to ladybugs and bees, though you won't see many of those in the late seasons. You should get started soon - and you can purchase Neem Oil today from our online shop.
Emulate outdoor conditions
Sometime in September, your bonsai roots and buds will begin to harden, growth will slow to a standstill, and deciduous trees will begin to display their colors. And now that they are insect-free, it's time to reduce your fertilizing cycle and bring your tree indoors.
You should emulate outdoor conditions as closely as possible - light, air current, heat, and so on. By doing so, you will reduce the shock of moving indoors and improve the long-term health of your bonsai. Tropical trees will need as much light as possible, and preferring a southern window exposure window and regular misting for higher humidity. Consider a water mister and humidity trays for your indoor trees.
Of course, adequate light is essential to having a lush green bonsai year-round. A sunny window is key, though some varieties tolerate less light than others. Artificial lights, such as an inexpensive fluorescent cool or warm white tube, make ideal light sources in the winter for continued health and growth.
It's important to note that many tropical bonsai can drop 10% to 25% of their leaves when exposed to a change in light intensity or day length, between the first 10-20 days. This can happen in Northern climates in October or November and again in February. This is normal, and your trees should begin growing foliage again in 30 days.
Water your bonsai frequently
Watering your bonsai is not like watering your other house plants - but that doesn't mean it's difficult. Their confined root systems need water more frequently, and learning how to gauge your trees' watering needs is an important skill to develop.
For example, don't assume that your outdoor watering schedule will remain the same indoors. No single watering schedule can be applied. The best bet is to feel the soil and decide. If the top half-inch isn't moist, it is likely time to water your tree. We recommend using a Haws watering can which can be purchased fro our shop .
For maximum efficiency, consider immersing the pot in water. This is the low-risk method and is ideal for beginners. Simply fill your sink or a basin with enough water to cover the pot and reach approximately three-fourths of an inch up the trunk. Set the pot gently in the water so you don't disturb the moss or gravel. The soil will begin bubbling in a steady stream - when it stops, remove the tree from the water.
If your tree bubbles like Alka Seltzer, you are not watering frequently enough. If it bubbles slowly or not at all, you need to water less. Adjust your schedule so that the water bubbles evenly for between 2-4 minutes.
Fertilize, but don't overfeed
All bonsai require nutrition, and indoor bonsai will need a balanced solution such as Pokon® or any of our BonsaiMark products. It's important not to over-fertilize, however, and always avoid feeding a weak or stressed tree. In other words, stick to a fertilizing schedule.
In autumn and winter, indoor bonsai should be fed approximately once a month, and only if growth is active. Don't risk your plant - consider using a well-balanced fertilizer.
While it is controversial among gardeners, SuperThrive may be an ideal choice. Many swear by the product, others say it is a waste of money. And SuperThrive feeds the debate by never revealing their ingredients on the container. But I have noticed a distinct difference in my trees while using SuperThrive for the last 9 years.
SuperThrive is not a fertilizer, so you can use it in addition to ordinary fertilizers. Its 50-plus vitamins and hormones may be a healthy boon for your indoor tree, and it happens to be one of the Bonsai Outlet's biggest sellers .
Increase humidity around your bonsai
Most indoor bonsai require humidity, but central heat in your home will likely dry out the air. But there are some easy, inexpensive ways to increase humidity around your bonsai.
For example, placing your bonsai on a flat tray filled with river pebbles and water will increase humidity via evaporation, and at the same time provide a decorative display that elevates the pot and prevents root rot. The tray should be larger than your bonsai pot by 1-2 inches on each side and filled with water regularly.
Humidity trays make watering simple and provide essential moisture for your tree while protecting furniture from stain and water damage. For a few dollars a humidity tray is likely worth the investment . Misting will also help clean and refresh the foliage, though it cannot be expected to replace watering.
Show off your bonsai
If your bonsai is going to be in the house a while, why not make it feel at home? The Bonsai Outlet offers a broad collection of modern and traditional bonsai tables and stands, handcrafted and imported for use in displaying antiques, pottery, and flowering plants in addition to bonsai trees.
Each stand is hand-carved and finished by artisans, giving each piece a rich luster and protecting the wood with a long-lasting finish. They are ideal for displaying your tropical or deciduous treasures in the dormant season, especially in a tokonama arrangement. Purchase one today and give your tree the decorative prominence it deserves.