Mastering Outdoor Bonsai Care: The Complete Guide

If you love to grow bonsai, but don't have the room to keep them indoors, growing them outdoors can be an ideal solution.
A outdoor bonsai exposed to sunlight.

Bonsai is a Japanese term that translates to “planted in a container.” This is why many people believe that these trees must be kept indoors to thrive. However, this is false because only a few trees can survive indoors. Most of the exciting bonsai trees are grown outdoors. Common Bonsai trees such as Juniper, Maple, Pine, and Mulberry are all outdoor trees. Remember that outdoor Bonsai trees need special care to grow and thrive.

So, what are some of the care requirements for outdoor Bonsai trees? Everything starts with where you choose to position your trees. Generally, ensure you place your outdoor Bonsai trees in a bright and well-lit spot. Consider providing some afternoon shade if you live in an area that experiences scorching summers. Monitor your trees closely and only water when necessary. Avoid watering them on a routine. Outdoor Bonsai trees can endure relatively high temperatures and cold weather if they are taken care of properly. To maintain healthy and beautiful outdoor bonsai trees, fertilizer is essential. Use any general-purpose fertilizer to keep your trees healthy and adequately nourished. Lastly, outdoor Bonsai are vulnerable to pests and insect infestations. To prevent this, use an organic pest control solution to keep pests away from your bonsai trees.

This blog post discusses everything you need to know about outdoor Bonsai tree care requirements. Read on to learn more.

Understanding the Dangers of the Seasons on Outdoor Bonsai Trees

Before we discuss how to care for your outdoor bonsai trees, it is critical to understand the risks that different seasons pose to your miniature trees.

We are not trying to discourage you from keeping your bonsai trees outdoors. We only want you to be aware of these risks so you can take the necessary steps to protect your precious trees.

Bonsai on hand.
It is critical to understand the risks that different seasons pose to your miniature trees.

Here is an overview of how different seasons affect outdoor bonsai trees:

  • Spring: The frost is quickly vanishing, and new buds are quickly forming. If you moved your bonsai trees indoors during winter, don’t be so quick to bring them out. They may not be ready for a quick transition and may develop shock. Also, be mindful of the rise in harmful insects and pests during this time.
  • Summer: The sun could burn and dehydrate your outdoor bonsai trees during summer. Be sure to provide enough shade and water to prevent this from happening. Arid areas also experience low humidity during this time, which can devastate some bonsai tree species.
  • Autumn: Most bonsai trees are resistant to cold temperatures; however, it is still essential to consider their health during this season. Ensure they receive adequate sunlight while avoiding extreme cold temperatures.
  • Winter: If you live in an area with extremely cold temperatures, don’t leave your bonsai trees outside during this time. Move them indoors to an environment that is neither too hot nor too cold. Be aware of low humidity levels and provide enough moisture to prevent dehydration and loss of leaves.

Caring for Outdoor Bonsai Trees: The Steps

Now that you understand the dangers of the seasons let us look at how to care for your outdoor bonsai trees:

1. Positioning

Bonsai trees usually slide into dormancy during the winter season. These plants need cold temperatures during this time.

It means you cannot take your bonsai trees indoors when the weather changes because they need a dormant period for proper growth.

Start preparing your bonsai trees for winter dormancy around Thanksgiving Day. You can accomplish the preparation in several ways.

One way is to bury your trees in the ground without the pot and mulch them up to the first branch. Ensure you choose a good location fully protected from strong winds but not rain and snow.

Bonsai tree in the windowsill exposed to sunlight.
A balcony, porch, or patio are good locations for your trees.

You can also prepare your outdoor bonsai trees for dormancy by placing them in an unheated garage. Remember that your trees don’t need light during the dormancy period, which lasts three months.

During the warm months, keep your bonsai trees outdoors in a spot with plenty of morning sunlight and good afternoon shade. A balcony, porch, or patio are good locations for your trees.

Consider placing your trees on a table or bench at eye level for a beautiful display.

You can also bring them indoors occasionally to display during special occasions but only leave the trees indoors for a short period since the indoor conditions don’t favor their growth.

2. Watering Outdoor Bonsai Trees

Pay attention to your outdoor bonsai trees when watering because the outcome can be catastrophic. Consider watering your trees when the soil appears dry but never allow the soil to become completely dry.

If your trees need frequent watering, consider using a self-watering pot to reduce the time and effort to provide adequate moisture to your bonsai trees.

You can also opt for soil additives like akadama or pumice, which help improve drainage.

A person watering a bonsai.
Pay attention to your outdoor bonsai trees when watering.

Remember to mist the foliage and branches of your trees regularly. This helps to maintain the humidity levels around the tree, which is highly beneficial for its health.

3. Fertilizing Outdoor Bonsai Trees

You have to fertilize your outdoor bonsai trees regularly if you want them to remain healthy.

Find a good fertilizer that is made explicitly for bonsai trees. Never use a fertilizer with high nitrogen content because it can potentially burn your plants.

You can fertilize your bonsai trees during their growing season or provide them with slow-release fertilizers, which are convenient and less time-consuming.

4. Trimming

Trimming is essential in keeping the stature of your bonsai trees and enabling new growth to a safe point. The best time to trim your bonsai trees outdoors is during the active growing season from spring through summer.

You can use specialized tools like pruning shears, scissors, tweezers, and knob cutters for trimming the branches and leaves of your outdoor bonsai trees.

When trimming, ensure that your pruners remain sharp and clean to avoid damaging the tree.

Avoid pruning everything because it can affect your plant negatively. Some foliage should be left behind to sustain the health of your bonsai tree.

A person trimming a bonsai.
When trimming, ensure that your pruners remain sharp and clean to avoid damaging the tree.

Tropical and sub-tropical tree species used in bonsai cultivation usually require periodic pruning to maintain their size and shape. Also, prune the roots of your trees to ensure they keep the pot growing.

5. Insects and Pests Treatment

When caring for outdoor bonsai trees, watch out for pests and diseases. Common bonsai pests include aphids, mites, scales, mealybugs, etc. can cause severe damage to your trees if not correctly treated.

You can use organic insecticides or pesticides to eliminate such insects and pests from your outdoor bonsai trees.

 Ensure you follow the safety instructions while using these products and always wear protective gear like gloves, respirator, and eye protection.

You can also attract beneficial insects to your bonsai trees by planting certain plants around them, like chrysanthemums and dandelions, which will help control pest infestations naturally.

6. Repotting

You should consider repotting your bonsai trees every three or four years when their root system fills the current pot.

The primary reason for repotting your bonsai tree is to supply it with fresh soil and encourage new root growth.

The best time to repot your bonsai tree is early spring before the growing season begins. Use lightweight, well-draining soil mix for better results and ensure you don’t damage the roots during repotting.

Examine the root system of your bonsai tree every year to determine if it is root-bound. In most cases, the repotting process is relatively easy.

Carefully remove the tree from its current pot and lightly trim the roots to reduce their mass and volume. Place the tree in its new pot and use stakes to position it correctly if necessary.

Fill the pot with fresh soil, ensuring all the roots are covered with enough soil. Press down gently to remove air pockets and thoroughly water your bonsai tree.

7. Training

You need to understand that there is nothing like “bonsai trees.” Bonsai is a form of art, and the plants used are just regular trees trained to grow in a certain way.

Training your bonsai tree is integral to its maintenance as it helps maintain its shape. You can use wiring techniques like trunk wrapping, branch bending, etc., to train your bonsai trees into desired shapes.

A man training bonsai.
Training your bonsai tree is integral to its maintenance as it helps maintain its shape.

You can use natural techniques like pruning and trimming to shape outdoor bonsai trees. Ensure you use the proper technique while training your bonsai tree, as inappropriate training can lead to severe damage.

Wiring should be done carefully because it is unnecessary for all plant species, and improper wiring can harm the tree.

Always use an appropriate size of wire and keep it on for a short period since it can damage the bark and restrict the growth of your bonsai trees.

Final Thoughts

Caring for an outdoor bonsai tree is easy if you understand your trees’ needs.

Provide adequate water, humidity, and fertilizer during their growing season and protect them from severe winter weather when they enter dormancy.

Trim regularly for the desired shape and size, repot every few years, and train them to maintain their shape.

Last update on 2024-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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