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Watering: Important Balance of Dry and Wet

November 16, 2013

 Daily watering for bonsai is as important and essential as every meal and water for human. Among bonsai artists, it is said if you water bonsai every day, it won't be dead. Of course it is also necessary to pay attention to the condition of the living trees. Especially you should be careful when you water it in hot summer.

Twice or Three Times in Summer

 We visited Nakanishi Chinshoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town at noon. Yoichi Nakanishi, 5th generation of the garden, was watering the bonsai at the garden. For Shohaku (trees of Pinaceae and Cupressaceae), he waters twice or 3 times in summer, once in spring and autumn, once in 2 days in winter. It is his routine work. There are bonsai trees 50 or 100 years old at the garden. We can't imagine the quantity of water the trees got.

 He gives them much water in summer. Especially in the hottest season, he does needles of pine trees, too. Each tree has own tendency and some trees are easy to dry. For the trees, he moves them to the different places. Sometimes he gives water only trees which dry soon. It is called "Hiroikake".

Nakanishi gives water to bonsai trees of the bonsai shelves at Nakanishi Chinshoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town.
Nakanishi gives water to bonsai trees of the bonsai shelves at Nakanishi Chinshoen bonsai garden in Takamatsu's Kinashi town.

Put water a Third of Pot for Koshimizu

 The most difficult season of watering is winter and rainy season when Zoki (deciduous trees) fall the leaves. In winter, trees get the good taste like a dead tree. But you must be careful they will be dead if you forget watering. Unexpectedly, rain doesn't seep down to the roots. Nakanishi told us a saying, "Water trees with umbrella in rainy season."

If the soil becomes white and dry, it is the time to water.
If the soil becomes white and dry, it is the time to water.

The tree becomes active after watering.
The tree becomes active after watering.

 Nakanishi emphasizes, "It is important to be careful of each tree's condition and decide the quantity when you water trees." For a weak tree, he inclines the pot to be good drain.

 However it is not good to keep the soil wet. The balance of the dry and the wet condition is very important. The basic rule is "Water tree when the soil dries." While people go away as in travel, they do Koshimizu (water-filled basin for watering). When you do it, Negusare (root suffers damage) never happen if you put water a third of the pot. Be careful of the quantity.
(By Shigeo Hano)

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