Hydroponic Bonsai – Is it Possible to Grow a Bonsai Tree in Water?
Hydroponics is the latest craze in the planting community and to no surprise, it has been making its way to the bonsai world.
This growing technique involves growing plants without soil by feeding them mineral nutrients and salts dissolved in water.
Hydroponic technology is considered to be one of the most advanced methods of plant growing. It is successfully used to increase the production of various crops. But is it possible to grow a hydroponic bonsai and what are the benefits and drawbacks of this method?
Let’s explore the topic!
What is a Hydroponic Bonsai?
A hydroponic bonsai tree is a new style of bonsai that is grown using hydroponic technology. To do this a bonsai that was initially grown in soil is transferred to a glass container with a circulation system of water-based nutrient solution and grow lights.
Can You Grow a Bonsai in Water?
Just like any other plant, bonsai trees can be grown hydroponically. There are, however, several factors you need to consider before starting to grow your own aqua bonsai tree.
How to Grow a Hydroponic Bonsai Tree?
There are different types of bonsai tree hydroponics you can use for growing your very own tree. Because bonsai trees are quite sensitive plants that don’t often tolerate drastic changes it’s important to choose not only the right tree, but also the right system.
There are two main ways to grow bonsai trees in water. You can use a complete ebb and flow hydroponic system or opt for a more natural way of water growing.
As most hydroponic trees, bonsai trees prefer deep water culture. This is why ebb and flow systems are perfect for the task.
This type of system provides the support bonsai trees need. Deep water ebb and flow systems normally have rockwool cubes in the base, which surround the stem and help keep it upright.
Alternatively, your tree can also be planted in normal soil inside the hydroponic system. This offers better stability for the delicate bonsai stem.
Another way of growing bonsai in water is the so-called “aqua bonsai”. This method is loved by many bonsai enthusiasts for its appealing appearance.
Aqua bonsai trees are bonsai trees grown in a glass container filled with nutrient-rich water. The roots of the tree are suspended in the water and can be seen through the glass, which provides a stunning natural look.
Which Method is Better?
Each choice has its own pros and cons, so you need to carefully consider each one. While both systems use the same hydroponic concept, they have many differences.
Using a traditional hydroponic ebb and flow system promotes root growth which results in faster absorption of nutrients. This in turn boosts the overall growth of your bonsai tree and provides faster results.
Aqua bonsai growing, on the other hand, is simpler for beginners and doesn’t require specialised equipment. All you have to do is place water with nutrients into a glass container and submerse the roots of your tree. This makes it more accessible for those who don’t have the money to invest in air or water pumps and other equipment.
Aqua bonsais also look more attractive than most hydroponic systems that tend to be made out of plastic.
Maintaining Optimal Conditions in a Hydroponic System
For your bonsai to thrive in a water system, it’s essential to maintain optimal growing conditions.
Bonsai trees thrive in relatively high humidity. In order to maintain the needed level of humidity for your bonsai tree, you should mist it with a spray bottle filled with water.
Using bonsai grow lights when growing a bonsai tree with hydroponics is essential. Most indoor trees have limited access to sunlight, even if placed near a window. This can stunt your trees’ growth. An artificial LED grow lamp will help provide the extra light your tree needs to continue growing healthy.
In hydroponic growing systems, the nutrient solution is where your bonsai gathers all the nutrients and minerals needed for its growth. Whether you use a proper system or go for the natural aqua growing method, you have to be careful about how much water you give your tree.
Just like with watering, try not to stick to a schedule. Check the level of the nutrient solution every day and if you see it going down, top it up again. Make sure that your tree isn’t getting too much water as it can lead to the roots rotting.
When adding nutrients to the water, always follow the instructions on the bottle. Most hydroponic nutrient solutions are similar enough, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the exact solution to use.
There are few scenarios when you might prefer one solution over another. For example, if you’re trying to get your bonsai tree to produce flowers, you should opt for a solution high in phosphorus. Similarly, older bonsai trees would benefit from a nutrient solution that is low in nitrogen.
What are the Benefits of Hydroponic Growing?
There are quite a few benefits that make hydroponic growth an attractive option for many bonsai enthusiasts. Some of the advantages of this growing method include:
- Faster Growth Rate
Plants receive more nutrients in this type of system which leads to a better growth rate.
- Fewer Resources Needed
Because the water is contained and there is less water loss in the process, hydroponic systems actually use less water than traditional growing methods.
- Controlled Environment
Your bonsai tree will thrive best in a controlled environment without pests, weeds or diseases. A hydroponic system will provide this environment because your tree is grown in water rather than soil.
What are the Downsides of Using Hydroponics?
It’s easy to look at hydroponic technology and think of it as the future of planting. But there are certain drawbacks to be aware of before you switch all your bonsai trees to water growing.
- Expensive Set-up
A full hydroponic system can be more expensive to set up compared to the traditional soil planting method. The exact costs will vary depending on factors such as the size of the system, whether it’s prefabricated or custom built and more.
- Close Monitoring and Maintenance
Hydroponics require you to closely monitor and manage the system to ensure your tree grows healthily. To maintain optimal growing conditions every element of your system has to be monitored. You need to regularly flush and replace the nutrient solution regularly to ensure your tree is getting enough minerals. All system parts also need to be cleaned to prevent algae and other buildup.
- Leaves Plants Susceptible to Waterborne Diseases
Growing plants in water instead of soil leaves them open to waterborne diseases. Due to the closed system, infections can spread quickly. In the most extreme cases a waterborne infection can kill your plants within a matter of days.
What are the Best Bonsai Trees to Grow in a Hydroponic System?
It’s important to choose the right tree to grow in a hydroponic system since different trees have different requirements. Some bonsai varieties are more prone to root rot than others, so you have to make sure the species you’ve selected will survive hydroponic growth.
You can grow several indoor bonsai tree species successfully using this method. Here are some of the bonsai tree types to consider:
- Ficus Bonsai
- Carmona Bonsai
- Maple Bonsai
- Ginkgo Bonsai
- Crassula Bonsai
There tropical and subtropical species can survive in stable indoor temperature and don’t require as much light as outdoor tree varieties.
Shop Bonsai Trees Online
Ready to grow your bonsai collection and try different growing techniques? Browse Bonsai 2 U’s amazing range of indoor and outdoor trees available to order online. If you need help choosing or simply want to browse our stock in person, you are welcome to visit our bonsai nursery located in Lutterworth.