watering best method?

remist17

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I have been told several ways to water my bonsai and pre bonsai material.

One method is using a water can and letting the waterrun out of the bottom. Stopping for a minute and then rewatering until it runs out the bottom.

Second method is taking a bucket and putting the plant/pot in the bucket and filling it with water over the pot and up the trunk. Letting it sit in the water for 10min.

Third one is to water with a water can and let the water run out once..

Any points on this would be great.
 

Zach Smith

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I have been told several ways to water my bonsai and pre bonsai material.

One method is using a water can and letting the waterrun out of the bottom. Stopping for a minute and then rewatering until it runs out the bottom.

Second method is taking a bucket and putting the plant/pot in the bucket and filling it with water over the pot and up the trunk. Letting it sit in the water for 10min.

Third one is to water with a water can and let the water run out once..

Any points on this would be great.
Ideally, you should get sufficient rainfall each day to water your bonsai thoroughly.

Since you probably won't get that ... here's my take.

Watering may be the most complex (while important) part of the whole endeavor. Unless you're using collected rainwater you're starting off at a great disadvantage whenever you open the tap. All municipal water is treated with chlorine in one form or another. Though chlorine is a micro-nutrient for plants, you'll get it in excess when watering with chlorine-treated water. This can cause harm to your bonsai.

Soil pH typically goes too high if you water with tap water for too long. This does not occur so much in your yard, as the typical clay content of soil acts to buffer pH. You don't have this benefit with most bonsai soils, as there is little to no buffering capacity. So ... in time your pH drifts above 7.0, and ultimately your soil will become water-resistant to a degree. This is another way to say it doesn't "wet" as well when the pH is alkaline. This not only dries out roots but locks up nutrients vital to your bonsai's health.

Alkaline pH can be treated effectively by using a product such as Miracid or 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to each gallon of tap water. This lowers the pH from around 7.5 to around 6.5, which is just what you need.

What's the best way to water with tap water? I've used a hand wand, hand sprayer, watering can, misting system with timer, spray heads and timer, and even have immersed a handful of trees in 20+ years. When watering by hand I water at least twice during the session unless I'm short of time. When doing this I watch closely for signs of poor wetting, such as water lingering on the soil surface when it shouldn't be. If I'm getting drainage in under one second I know things are all right.

If you have only a few bonsai then you could do immersion, though I see no special need for it and it is a pain. It won't solve an alkalinity problem though you will get water to the roots this way. Because I grow commercially the only viable solutions for me are to use spray heads and a timer during summer heat, and to hand water with a hand wand at other times (twice per day spring through fall, once per day in winter unless the soil is frozen). It's really important not to rely totally on your timer and spray system if you use one. Sometimes a tree will grow enough while you're not looking to shield its neighbor from the spray. So be sure to at least inspect to be sure everyone got their daily bath.

For what it's worth.

Zach
 

hetesss

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That's good advice from Zach, and I'll add 3 things.
#1. Bottom watering (using a bucket as you suggested) should not be a full-time operation, as it will eventually lead to salt build-up. It is a good method to use if your plants are especially dry, and necessary if they are wilting. But I would limit it to once a week in warm weather, unless it's an emergency. FWIW, I never use this method in late fall and winter.
#2. Try to simulate a moderate rainfall. Ideally, you would want to simulate a long, light rain, but noone has time for that, unless using a sprinkler. However, that would negate #3 which is probably the most important thing to learn in cultivation.
#3. When watering by hand, always try to use the same method, apperatus, and water pressure (ideally at the same time of day), and WATCH CLOSELY. Observe the amount of time it takes for the water to run out of the bottom, and you will begin to learn a lot about your plants. Try some experiments to see how long it takes the water to drain when you already know the plants are dry or moist. Eventually, this will allow you to get to know your plants: how much water to give, when to re-pot, and if there is a soil or root problem (it took me about 4-5 years).

Good luck,
Stan
 

remist17

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Thanks for the great suggestions.

I have a well with 6.9 so I think I am pretty good. I have a softner also which concerns me a little.
But I collect rain water in two 50 gallon containers which I will use to water from.
 

treebeard55

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... Eventually, this will allow you to get to know your plants: how much water to give, when to re-pot, and if there is a soil or root problem (it took me about 4-5 years).
Good luck,
Stan

Getting to know your plants is one of the most important elements in successful bonsai. Tip o' the hat, Stan.
 
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Hi all,

Does leaving water to sit in a massive pot pond like the Japanese do have a good affect on chlorine and other contaminants evaporating?? Are there any benefits in doing so??? I have a few big gold fish in there as well lol

Cheers.
 

treebeard55

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... Does leaving water to sit in a massive pot pond like the Japanese do have a good affect on chlorine and other contaminants evaporating?? Are there any benefits in doing so? ....

Unless everything I've read and heard is mistaken, yes, leaving water open to the air for 24 hours or so allows excess chlorine to dissipate. Plants need trace amounts of chlorine, but only trace; not the levels used to disinfect city water.
 

jk_lewis

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Only the chlorine will evaporate. It is very volatile. Unless the tub is added to by rain, other contaminants in the water will actually intensify because it will be the water that evaporates and leaves the junk behind.

However, if your city water is safe for YOU to drink (and you'd know if it were not because in the USA the city water supplier would have to notify you every month until it improved) it -- chlorine and all -- is safe for your plants. (It is actually safer for you than bottled water. Municipal water supplier have to jump through many more hoops than suppliers of bottled water)
 
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Thank you kindly for your prompt replies.

I have been doing the water pot thing for a while now, and I think my trees are benefiting from the watering regime :)
I think the build up of algae in the water is also great for the bonsai trees in terms of nutrient.

In Australia, the tap water is considered to be one of the best in the world by the water authorities. I am sure the tap water is fine, but have noticed my trees tend to be more settled and growing with nice calm consistency throughout the growing season due to the fact that they are not shocked by the sudden onset of freezing cold water :eek:

Cheers.
 
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also, one needs to take into account what type of soil your plants are growing in, and how much water their individual needs require.
 
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