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Watering and Nutrients

Text, and photos by Morten Albek, Denmark
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Shohin-bonsai are very small trees, with a spare amount of roots, to consume and transport the necessary water and nutrients for growth.

Placement Of Trees

In order to keep the trees from drying out on a warm or windy day, it is important to take care of the placement of the trees.

I place my Shohin-bonsai in semi shade most of the time except Pines,which are very tolerant in dealing with dry periods. A pine actually loves to dry out between every watering, and they need the full sun to shine on them without any shading.

Take care, and find a good place where the trees benefit from the sun but are able to keep moist until the next watering session.

Shohin-bonsai is of course demanding a very high degree of discipline from their owners. A single day of laziness can cost years of training and commitment, when a tree dies.

If you are unsure if the tree will be able to keep moist for the whole day, please keep it safe in the shade. It is always better to be safe than sorry.


The simplest and most effective way to secure that the soil in the tiny pots are totally wet and without any dry spots, is to soak the pot in a bowl of water.

Dry spots in the soil, will harm roots growing there, and damage the health of the tree.

It is not advisable to use a can for watering, because the risk of dry spots is bigger.


As other bonsai living in a pot, with no natural supply of minerals or nutrients at all, it is necessary to provide them with their food. They want it served, and they want it to be well done.

A tree,as small as a shohin-bonsai, needs the same growth as a larger bonsai. Else it will die.

Therefore it is important to feed them, in order to keep a healthy but slow growing tree in good shape. They donít absorb much when they grow slowly, but they need both the NPK and Vitamin B.

When you determine the dose of nutrients to use for bonsai, a ground rule is to blend it with twice the amount of water than the description tells you on the bottle. When it comes to shohin-bonsai, the same blend is fine. But water with nutrients shouldnít be provided frequently.

Organic Fertilizers

I always use organic fertilizers for my bonsai. If the pellets are too big, I simply divide them into smaller parts.

Thepellets are placed on top of the soil. By watering the pellets ,they will slowly sieve down in the earth and feed the roots.

Biogold, or other organic nutrients, donít have the risk to harm the roots with too high dosage. In a small pot,as the ones used for Shohin, the risk of damage is much bigger than with a larger tree. So extra care is to be taken.

0-10-10 In Autumn

In autumn (September-October) I use a fluid NPK 0-10-10 to improve fall colours and the strength of new shoots for the winter. This is recommended for both deciduous trees and for conifers.

As earlier mentioned, it is important only to use half the amount that is described on the bottle.This applies also to special bonsai product, since shohin trees are very small. The balance will easily be tipped, and the damage would be crucial.


Plants need vitamins. Especially B-vitamins will be of benefit for the vigour of the trees.

B-vitamins can be added when you water the trees. Superthrive is a product that contains some good vitamins for bonsai . Another solution is to use a low-alcoholic beer, and blend it with water 1:1. Beer contains a big amount of B-vitamins.

It can be sprayed on the leaves and is easily absorbed by the plant with good results.

There is an ongoing discussion in the bonsai community about the need of vitamins. I use them frequently, and my trees are very healthy.

Use Rainwater

Collect the rainwater to keep a good natural soft water for your trees.

In some areas water from the tap can easily contain different chemical additives that will harm the trees.

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