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Society & Success

Caring for bonsai in rainy seasons

An ornamental tree or shrub grown in a pot and artificially prevented from reaching its normal size. PHOTO | FILE
An ornamental tree or shrub grown in a pot and artificially prevented from reaching its normal size. PHOTO | FILE 

With the on and off rains being experienced in several parts of the country, extra caution needs to be taken when tending to backyard plants.

Everything in excess leads to destruction and the same rule applies to plants, especially outdoor bonsai plants.

A leading bonsai artist and landscaper, Prachi Shah, told BDLife that whilst it is the best time for bonsai plants to thrive utmost care should be taken so as not to ruin them with the excess clogging rainwater.

Bonsai is the knack of growing dwarf-shaped fruit or flower trees or shrubs in small containers. Plants grown using this method are called bonsai.

“Some of the handy tips on handling bonsai plants during the rainy season as what we are currently experiencing include; fertilising, correct soil mix, styling and running,” said Mrs Shah.

Other pointers to look out for include; placement, seedlings, watering and diseases.

Fertilising

According to the expert, bonsai plants should not be watered in rainy days. This is because excess water will drain all the fertiliser thus becoming useless to the plant, said Mrs Shah.

Fertilisers form an integral part of soil fertility and texture.

The fertility of the soil largely depends on the amount and rate at which the nutrients are provided to it periodically.

“For healthy growth of bonsai regular supply of essential nutrients is required and that is not possible if it is over-watered,” she said.

“It’s very important to understand the role of fertiliser as it plays a very big role in the health and appearance of plants.”
The three major macronutrients for the balanced development of bonsai include; nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).

Mrs Shah said that this combination is available in the country in proportion of 17:17:17. “For bonsai like desert rose NPK in proportion of 19:19:19: works the magic”.

Considering that bonsai are potted plants, their soil mix plays a crucial role in the growth of the tree hence maintaining a healthy root structure is key. In nature, plants send out many roots in various directions in search of water and nutrients, but these plants when trained as bonsai need to be fertilised since their roots cannot go out of the container to find nutrition.  

Correct soil mix

“To keep bonsai healthy at all times they must be grown in the right soil mix. Red soil is considered to be rich in Iron which is quite healthy for bonsai plants and also for plants in general,” said Mrs Shah. Soil mixture should be able to retain moisture without water clogging. Good soil mix should be porous to aid in draining excess rain water while steadily holding the plant.

Styling and pruning

Rain water drains all the toxins from plants and this is the time when you see maximum growth, a good time for wiring, she said.

“Wiring is imperative when it comes to bonsai styling and training. Though wiring can be done at any time of the year, monsoon is undoubtedly the right time.”

Mrs Shah said that wiring done during this period gives speedy and steady results because of accelerated growth rate of bonsai.
Pruning is also one of the most effective techniques in maintaining the style of bonsai and again this is the most appropriate time to carry out this activity — but not for all bonsai plants.

“Pruning for ficus, baobab, and flamboyant excluding desert rose or adeniums at this time is the best,” she said.

Placement

You are advised to always keep your bonsai two feet  from the ground, and not only in the rainy season.

This helps in stopping water clogging while enhancing its beauty… otherwise you will see the over view of the bonsai plant and not the beauty of its branches and styling.

If it is an indoor bonsai make sure it is kept indoor and not in the sun and vice- versa. If it is an outdoor bonsai like the desert rose; leave it in full sunlight.  Ficus, outdoor bonsai loves to be drenched in rain so give it rain, said Mrs Shah.

Seedling

If it is your first time planting a bonsai, then go for the baobab seeds at this time since it loves rain water. “Baobab seeds might take two months to sprout but in rain water it will sprout in a maximum of 15 days which means the process gets four times faster,” she said.

Watering

Only water them when the soil either does not have water retention, the soil is completely dry or when it has not rained for about two-three days, failure to which the plant will start rooting from the roots.
Always check the pot or tray’s drainage holes to avoid blockage by over grown roots or sticky soil hindering water passage.

Diseases

Just like other trees, bonsai can be affected by virus and pests, which thrive in rainy seasons. If you see leaves turning yellow or are curling and not growing like normal leaves quickly separate the plant from the rest and treat them with required fungicide or insecticide.

“Remember that not all insects are harmful like worms or ladybug.”

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