It is misguided to think that a bonsai can only be taken care of at an apartment. In reality the tree species that come from our climatic zone need to be outside to be able to experience different seasons. Only tropical and subtropical plants require creating artificial conditions that they are used to.
What type of bonsai to choose?
Having a Backyard or a balcony available and wanting to grow bonsai, one has to choose the right tree for that purpose. A good choice might be a maple tree, a lime tree, a juniper, a yew tree, a hornbeam, a beech, a hawthorn or a wild apple tree. It is also important to properly recognize and assess the local conditions in your Backyard or on your balcony. If the spot is exposed to sunlight all day, it might be necessary to put more sensitive species in a shade. Especially if the tree is going to be surrounded by walls. The advantage of a Backyard with grass, bushes and a hedge is that the air humidity tends to be higher in such places.
In a windy neighborhood the tree is going to need more Water, but it will also be at lower risk of fungal infections. When it comes to very shady Backyards, on the other hand, the choice of the plant species is very limited. One could try their luck with a yew or a cypress, but the truth is there are no plants that like it in the shade – there are only those who can survive in the shade. One possible solution is to get more light in the Backyard, like by thinning the trees, or trimming a tall hedge. Alternatively, one could also move out…
Personal preferences vs. abilities
Plenty of people love blooming trees or dream of a bonsai full of fruits in the autumn. Then there are those who are mostly into junipers or pines. If someone has a specific species in mind, they should find out in advance what are the needs of such tree and compare them with the abilities of their Backyard. It’s better to give up on the favorite tree than watch it grow weak in poor conditions and eventually die.
Watering and fertilizing a bonsai in the Backyard
Taking care of a bonsai in the Backyard differs from taking care of regular potted plants. It’s mostly the fact that bonsai are planted in very small and shallow vessels. As a result, they have a very limited abilities to collect Water and nutrition.
In the Backyard, if the soil is still wet, one should refrain from Watering until the next day. Under no circumstances should you Water a bonsai by a schedule, every day at the same time. And without proper fertilizing, a lasting success in growing bonsai is not possible, either. The proportions between the main ingredients of the fertilizer, which are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, need to match the tree species and the time of year.
Backyard bonsai in the winter
Native bonsai are very resistant to cold. There’s a bigger danger that they will suffer from lack of Water in the winter. The part of the plant above the ground always evaporates humidity away, whereas frozen roots are unable to accumulate it. Which makes it necessary to Water the tree a lot in the winter. The thawing periods have to be used to resupply Water as well.
A bonsai that stays outside in the winter can be put in a hole in the ground, with the tree base surrounded by spruce branches or straw, and the treetop covered with a non-woven fabric to protect it from cold winds and intense sun. Some people remove the tree from the pot before digging the hole. That way the roots have access to the moisture in the soil while the pot won’t get dirty nor damaged.
Under no circumstances should a tree resting for the winter be moved inside a heated interior. It will cause the bonsai to start to sprout, and it won’t be able to go back out in the cold.