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4 Seasons Bonsai


The keen Bonsai growers will find plenty to do caring for their trees throughout the four seasons of every year, however, SUMMER can be the busiest time of all. In winter your tree will slow down, go dormant and demand little attention. In spring, your tree will wake up and burst into life. During the warm summer months, your tree concentrates its efforts on growing larger and stronger. Now is the time for the Bonsai growers to ‘listen’ to their tree.


Your Bonsai tree starts life from seed, just like the trees you see everywhere growing in the wild. Given the right conditions (and nature is very good at this) the seed ‘dropped’ in the wild will go through the same four seasons as your Bonsai and like your tree, it will need to breathe, eat and drink. The only main difference is that left to the laws of nature, in the wild, our seed could grow into a tree of 30 meters or more as opposed to the desires of man were we want it to grow to perhaps no more than 50 cm! The challenge is to achieve this and keep your Bonsai healthy and happy.


Much has been written and videos produced on the care of Bonsai trees during the summer months. Much of this is a valuable source of information and time spent researching this information will be time well spent (and remember, in Bonsai we never stop learning). Perhaps however the most valuable source of information on the condition is from your tree itself. It alone can tell you if it’s happy or not. Generally speaking, if your tree is looking good, then it most likely is ‘good’. If on the other hand, it looks poorly, leaves going yellow or brown, leaves wilting and/or falling off, then you need to take action NOW.


The first thing to be aware of is that there is no simple answer and that is due to two main factors:

  1. No two trees are the same
  2. The growing conditions for every tree are different

The above FACTS are the plain and simple reasons why it is so important to listen to your tree and learn to understand what it is telling you. It could be telling you:

  1. Not enough water
  2. Too much water
  3. Not enough ‘food’
  4. Too much ‘food’
  5. Not enough light
  6. Not enough shade
  7. ….and more

No book or video can give you this information. The only way you can learn this is from your Bonsai itself.

One important factor (perhaps the most important) not in the list above is the matter of drainage. Good drainage is vital for the health and wellbeing of Bonsai trees at all times but even more during the summer months when you will be constantly watering. Proper Bonsai pots with good drainage and a good free draining Bonsai soil will go a long way to ensuring the health of your tree. It also goes a long way to solving one of the main problems with summer watering – with the correct type of soil in the right type of pot, it is very hard to overwater! excess water simply drains away.


A general guide (your tree will tell you more!)

Light: Your Bonsai is a tree just like the ones you see in the countryside. They do not grow as well inside! It likes lots of natural light.

Water: In general you should never allow your tree to dry out. The soil should always be moist. During the hot summer months check this at least twice every day and water as required. If bringing a new tree home it is a good idea to submerge the tree’s pot in a basin of cold water to allow it to soak through.

Feeding: In general most good quality plant foods (Fertilizers) will work well with your tree. A general-purpose feed with 10-10-10 (NPK) can be used throughout the summer, The amount to use will, of course, depend on the size of your tree so do read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before use.

For the majority of trees, it is wise to stop feeding at the end of August or early September as your Bonsai prepares for their winter slow down.

Yellowing leaves on your Bonsai tree can be caused by several conditions. Sometimes the cause is obvious, which means that you can diagnose and fix it immediately. There are other times when the problem is more of a mystery. In these cases, you’ll need to try changing one thing at a time until you see improvement in your Bonsai.

Even after you correct the problem, it’s still likely that the yellow leaves will fall off with time. Don’t worry, if the plant regains its health new leaves will fill in during the next growing season. Growing Bonsai trees is always a matter of patience. Do your best to eliminate these common reasons for yellowing leaves, then wait to see what happens.


The first thing to consider when thinking about the pests and diseases that can attack your trees, if the general health of your tree. Just like you and me, a healthy and happy tree will be much more able to fight off any unwanted pests and or diseases. So, keep your trees in tip-top condition and you will be well on your way to preventing major problems. Your second most important duty to your tree is to once again, listen to what it is telling you. and check for visible signs of possible problems to come.

The general advice is to take action as soon as a problem is seen. If you see damaged or infected leaves, cut them off and burn them. Do NOT add to your compost heap. If you see bugs or other unwanted creatures on the leaves remove them by hand or with a strong jet of water. A spray with water and washing-up liquid can help prevent future problems. Also available are a wide range of spray treatments available from Garden centres and other retail outlets. When using these it is very important to read and follow the manufacture’s instructions carefully.

Coccinellidae (Ladybirds) will help solve your problems. They will eat it! In general, welcome them with open arms.

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