Hey Travis, I tried twice to send you some info but it takes me so long to type it out, the connection times out and the message is lost! AHHH!
My lovely wife is going to take dictation now so maybe this info will get to you.
True bonsai (not the oneís bought from Home Depot) are almost always planted in very porous soil. The reason for this is bonsai are real trees, not house plants. When you confine the roots of a tree in a pot they will rot if planted in heavy soil. I use to mix my own soil using turface sand and peat moss. Easy on the peat moss. This soil contains very little nutrients and is mainly used to allow good root growth and lots of air around the roots. You will usually see trees wired to the pot to keep them in place. Itís wired through the root ball to the bottom of the pot.
There is a price to pay for this type of soil. You must water every day. Sometimes twice a day if trees are outside in the sun. If your tree dries out just once it will die. I lost a 40 year old elm tree because I thought it would be OK for the day. Hard lesson learned.
Some people use a heavier soil to make watering less laboursome but you can drown your trees this way. Porous soil is a lot more labour intensive but you will have much better root growth and healthier trees for it.
Some bonsai are also prone to attack from insects. Red spider mites in particular. If left unchecked these little critters will weaken your tree over time. Your tree will start to show signs of stress, yellow leaves, stunted growth(sound familiar!) They are very tiny and hard to spot. To check if you have them, take a piece of plain white paper, place it under a branch. Gently tap the branch with your finger, crap will fall off the branch onto the paper. If any of that crap starts to crawl around, you have mites. They are easy to get rid of using Saforís soap. Itís all natural and wonít harm your precious trees. Spray the leaves good, especially the under side where the mites hang out. Cover the tree with a plastic bag for about 10 minutes. This give the soap a chance to do its job before it can evaporate. Give the tree a good rinse with warm water. I used to do this in the bathtub when I lived in an apartment. I was also not married at the time! Your trees will love you for this bath. You can use chemical insecticides for more stubborn pests, but like in our tanks, only as a last resort.
There is so much more to tell you. There is root pruning, wiring, and re potting to discuss.
Fruit trees make beautiful bonsai. The flowers in the spring are stunning, especially apple trees. Fruit will grow to full size, thatís why crab apple trees are used. These trees must have their fruit crop reduced or your tree will die over time. The tree puts all its energy into fruit production and it gets weak. Sadly, you will know itís gone when it doesnít come back in the springÖ.
Some bonsai must have a dormant period or they weaken and dieÖ.
There are ways to make and keep the leaves on your trees smallerÖ
All bonsai do much better when kept outside, but watch out, people will steal them. Sad thing is, most thieves havenít got a clue how to care for their new acquisition.
I only gave up the bonsai when my sons were born. I just couldnít devote the time it took anymore, to busy being a parent. They were starting to deteriorate and I just couldnít watch it anymore. I gave the all away to good homes. To bad I didnít know you then. I still have one 20 year old Amur Maple. Tough tree, itís been neglected but is still healthy.
Travis, you would be amazing at this hobby. You are a natural.
I can give you lots of info but I really suck at typing! Takes me forever.
PM me if you want or need more info, Iíll give you my number if you can afford the long-distance call. I learned about bonsai from trail and error, and with some help from good people. Same way Iím learning about planted tanks. From good people like yourself. Good luck!
90 gallon, Crypt undulata "broad leaf" Lobelia cardinalis small and large form. H.corymbosa "compact" Crypt parva, Crypt Red Wendetti Downoi, Bacopa, Samolus Valerandi, Limnophilla Aromatica Alternanthera Reineckii lilacina(purple)
2x 150 Wt 10000k HQI Metal Halide, 2x 65 Wt 6700k-Colourmax