It is very important to select proper size and shape of the pot depending on the size and shape of the plant. Strong ceramic or clay pots are advised as the plant has to stay in it for years, writes Swathi. V

After the Bonsai attains required shape and form, comes the need to shift it to a suitable pot. It is very important to select proper size and shape of the pot depending on the size and shape of the plant. Strong ceramic or clay pots are advised as the plant has to stay in it for years.

One should also be careful enough to plant the trunk properly, either exactly in the centre or to a side of the pot, according to one's idea. Base of the trunk can be exposed to certain extent for aesthetic and natural look.

After transplanting, the plant has to be kept in a cool and shady place with regular watering for 10 to 15 days. Then it can be brought into the sun for proper and compact growth.

“Bonsai varieties are basically outdoor plants. Though occasionally these can be displayed indoors as well, they are essentially outdoor beings. Good amount of sunlight will give the foliage proper colour, and retain the plant's vigour,” says M.M. Hussain (Ph: 9848024654) from Plants Land Nursery.

Compost for the Bonsai should consist of fine red soil and well decomposed manure (horse manure, cow dung or leaf mould). Ideal ratio is 60 to 70 per cent of red soil well mixed with 40 to 30 per cent of manure.

A little neem cake may be added to this mixture.

Good drainage should be allowed by placing pieces of plastic mesh near the drainage holes to allow the outflow of excess water, says Mr.Hussain. Above the mesh, a layer of coarse sand may be spread for effective filtering, over which the compost mixture can be laid.

Before transplanting, the unwanted roots of the plants should be pruned.

Then the plant should be placed in the pot, with roots covered properly with compost and tightened around.

If required, the pot can be wrapped in a thin gunny bag for a few days for the plant not to get disturbed till it gets adjusted. During this period, watering has to be light and frequent, say, about three to four times a day, over the plant.

After 10 to 15 days in shade, the plant can be shifted to a sunny location. Once the plant settles down, one cardinal principle to follow is not to allow excessive new growth. One should keep nipping the new growth after allowing two to four nodes per branch depending on the length of the branch and the type of the tree. This trimming should be a continuous process throughout the life of a Bonsai.

“In case of pest or insect attacks, insecticides of good quality may be used. Even a fungicide can be used if required. Fertilisers have to be used in controlled proportions, as their excessive deployment will lead to faster and bigger growth of the tree,” Mr. Hussain cautions.

A water soluble formula of N.P.K. (19:19:19) can be diluted in water, in a ratio of three to four grams per litre, and applied as pot feeding as well as foliar spray alternatively once in 10 to 15 days, he advises.

Shade can be provided during summer months through the use of 50 per cent shade-net.

Watering can be increased to twice daily, as the pots are shallow and the soil usually is hard and compact. Water should be sprayed gently with a shower so that there is no run-off. Chnage of top layer of soil once in six months is advisable.

“Repotting can be done once in two to four years depending on the species and size of the plant. The pot size can be increased even at a much later stage in Bonsai training, to accommodate the thickening roots and stem,” Mr.Hussain says.

All said and done, the importance of attending a Bonsai workshop or course conducted by an expert cannot be overemphasised as it will give the much needed hands-on experience, he cautions on the final note.

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