4.PL ANT THE BONSAI
4a. If the pot does not have drainage holes, use a
drill with a ceramic bit to add a hole. To prevent soil
loss, cover it with a piece of screen (Figure D).
4b. Before planting, gently remove the tree from its
container and inspect the roots. They will likely have
grown around each other. Pull loose these tangled,
skinny roots with your hands, and trim away the
shaggy ends with hand shears. Also remove any
brown or unhealthy roots. Next, find the taproot
(the primary root), and cut it off. This is an important
step to dwarf the plant. Finally, fan out and thin
the roots at the base of the trunk using the rake
(Figure E). Always use a gentle touch with the roots.
4c. Cover the bottom of the pot with soil. Add the
tree with its roots fanned out wide. Cover the roots
with soil, filling the pot evenly until the surface of
the dirt is level (Figure F). Now give the tree a generous drink, to “water it in” (Figure G). Finally, add any
moss, rocks, or companion plants to flesh out your
design (Figure H).
5.TEND THE BONSAI
5a. Place the tree in direct sunlight. If the light
seems too intense for young or delicate trees, hang
a shade cloth to filter the light. Water as needed. Do
not put your tree on a strict schedule. Wait for it to
become mostly dry before you water.
5b. Maintain the health of the tree, and begin to
shape it, with simple pruning and pinching. Prune
any branches that are less than healthy, or that
stand in the way of the shape you’d like to make
(Figure I). Pinching back new growth at the ends
of branches will encourage thickening.
5c. Before you start shaping the tree, allow it to
grow until it seems well established in its new environment. Depending on your patience, this might
be a season, or a whole year, or only a few weeks.
5d. Feed the bonsai throughout the year. During
winter dormancy, feed it a fertilizer low in nitrogen.
When spring arrives, increase the amount of nitrogen, and through the summer use a balanced food.