Help needed with feed.

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Help needed with feed.

Post  acer_monkey on Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:44 pm

Hello,

I am a total newbie when it comes to Bonsai growing, I bought my first bonsai (acer) at the flower market in Amsterdam at Christmas. I planted it as soon as I got home and now it’s an impressive inch tall and looking healthy.

Now, my first question is about fertiliser. I’ve done a lot of reading about how I need a high Nitrogen feed in spring, a balanced feed in summer and a low Nitrogen feed in autumn. I understand the reasons why for this but all it does is confuse me further and never can I find an answer to the simple question, which feed should I buy?

So, I'm going to turn that question over to you guys. Which feeds do you recommend for my acer?

Thanks

acer_monkey
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Re: Help needed with feed.

Post  AlainK on Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:27 pm

acer_monkey wrote:Hello,

(...)
So, I'm going to turn that question over to you guys. Which feeds do you recommend for my acer?

Thanks

It depends Very Happy

You wrote:

"...now it’s an impressive inch tall" Wow. 2.54 cm? What about its girth?

That's not, er, very big for an Acer (maple), even for a "mame".

Hard to give you some advice without seeing pictures...
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AlainK
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Re: Help needed with feed.

Post  breck on Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:40 pm

If it really is just 1 inch tall take care to not over feed it and burn the roots . Any garden center will have a range of chemical plant food pick one with high nitrogrn and use it at half the recommendations on the packet, stop feeding high summer, then pick another type of feed with low or zero nitrogen and again feed that half strength through the autumn. No feed in winter then start again next spring with the high nitrogen. Never give any feed for 6 weeks after repotting or again you will burn the tender new roots.
Good luck and have fun

breck
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Re: Help needed with feed.

Post  Marty Weiser on Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:28 am

If it is truly 1 inch (2.54 cm) tall then it needs to grow for several years before it really becomes a bonsai. This is coming from someone who starts 100s of maple seedlings per year and gives away most of them after a few years. Promoting strong growth to thicken the trunk a bit is important, but every bonsai does not need to be short and fat - taller, thinner, more delicate trees are also very nice. However, I have seen very few convincing bonsai maples where the trunk is less than 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) in diameter. (I am sure there are some shohin that are thinner and someone will post one!).

To grow more it needs to be fertilized and I have found that when growing bigger there is no need to get fancy with the NPK ratio through the season. I use a mix of a balanced chemical fertilizer every week or so and whatever organic fertilizer I can find at a reasonable cost on the soil surface. The organic provides continuous fertilizer every time I water while the chemical gives a boost and often contains more trace nutrients than the organic. I would also suggest diluting the chemical fertilizer to about half strength to avoid root burn, particularly when the seedlings are small. The chemical fertilizers are in the form of the salt (anion + cation) that the roots can absorb quickly so they can overwhelm young roots. The organics are slowly broken down by various microbes into the salts the roots can absorb so they tend to not result in as much root burn (although it is still possible).

Finally, if you ask 10 bonsai growers for the best fertilization schemes you will get at least 15 answers. They all depend upon the growing conditions and and state of the bonsai so you should take them with a grain of salt (for you I suggest NaCl with a touch of KCl and ICl, but that is not the right stuff for your trees).

Marty Weiser
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Re: Help needed with feed.

Post  acer_monkey on Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:47 am

Hello, Marty.

Thank you for taking the time to reply, it's good to get some advice from somebody with so much experience.

It really is only about an inch in height. I planted it at Christmas and the seed only germinated about 5 weeks ago.

So, as I understand it, I should not be doing anything to the tree, other than keep it alive, for the next three years and, if I understand you correctly, I should just concentrate on getting the trunk as thick as possible.

Is it as simple as just water and feed regularly to fatten it up or is there anything else I should do?

acer_monkey
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Re: Help needed with feed.

Post  breck on Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:53 am

Other than leave to grow and fatten the trunk later you could loosely wire the trunk to give it some gentle curves , say when it is 6 to 8 inches tall. , could be this aautumn. Trees grow quickly when very young so watch the wire and remove as it gets tight to avoid scaring the trunk.
Given 2 years growth I would repot it into a large shallow container , at this time remove the tap root and lay the other roots out radially and as horizontally as possible.Further thought high nitrogen in autumn will encourage growth which will not harden off ready for winter weather you could find lots of the soft growth dieing in cold weather

breck
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