A flowering bonsai tree is a very interesting plant because it offers many different looks throughout the year. However, it also has different needs for water and fertilizer throughout the year. The most important skill for the cultivator of bonsai is the art of watering. This is especially important for a flowering bonsai tree because its needs changes with the seasons. The ugly truth is that more bonsai die from bad watering techniques than for any other reason. Too little water causes stunted blossom growth and too much causes mildewed roots.
Water Three Times
The Japanese adage for watering bonsai is to water three times: once for the pot, once for the soil and once for the plant. This translates into watering back and forth allowing the water to soak through the soil for the tree to pick up as it needs. Be aware of the needs of your tree. Some varieties need more water than others and many varieties need different amounts at different times of the year. Some soils hold moisture longer than others and some types of pots will drain more quickly. Get to know how the soil should feel and remember that a wet root is prone to mold and rot.
Besides providing necessary water to your flowering bonsai tree, watering also washes out salts that can build up while pushing down the nutrients where the roots can find them. Most bonsai experts recommend a granular bonsai soil mix for a reason. It allows the root system to breathe. When you water your flowering bonsai tree, the gasses that are exhaled by the roots are washed away allowing the roots to pull in fresh gasses to inhale.
If your flowering bonsai tree is not in bloom, you can gently water the entire plant. Blooms should not be watered as it can cause them to rot and die too quickly. Make it a point to always water early in the day if possible. The tree responds to changes in temperature by changing its living processes. Lowering the temperature by watering later in the day can make your tree more vulnerable to fungus and slugs.
Another danger is beads of water lying on the leaves. They act as magnifiers, causing the sun to burn the leaves. Your little flowering bonsai tree is very sensitive and therefore bonsai artists need to take the art of watering very seriously. In Japan, a bonsai apprentice receives shears on the first day and a watering can in his fourth year!