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How often should I fertilize my bonsai

March 08, 2017

At any bonsai meeting, seminar or convention you will frequently hear the question “how often should I fertilize my bonsai”….

Clearly a simple answer is, to follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s recommendations.

However, another appropriate response is to fertilize each and every day - and we will explain how to achieve this.

Manufacturers' set the fertilizer dose rate based on the maximum nutrient concentration that can be safely made available to the plant when considering the frequency a gardener might be expected to fertilize using a watering can. This in effect sets the dose rate and time period between fertilizing.

Plants can only take up fertilizer at a particular rate. Just because an excess of nutrient may be available does not mean that plants can use it.

The following chart illustrates a typical fertilizing cycle. Assuming a manufacturer specifies a fertilizer frequency of 10 days, then the plant would be provided an excess of fertilizer on day 1 and the fertilizer would be consumed or leach away to zero by the 10th day.


Traditional fertilizing method and results

The above cycle applies to all fertilizers although the "leach or consumption period" varies dependent upon fertilizer.

In addition to fertigate units providing an easy, quick way to fertilize at the manufacturers recommended dose and frequency rates........

....fertigate units also provide an easy way to fertilize more frequently to maintain optimal nutrient availability.

Assuming we want to fertilize more frequently, say every day, we must commensurately reduce the fertilizer concentration to ensure we do not "overdose" the plant with fertilizer.

Assuming the fertilizer manufacturer recommends fertilizing every 10 days, we would reduce the concentration to 1/10th to allow us to fertigate daily. At the end of the 10 days we will have applied the same quantity of fertilizer that would have otherwise been provided in a single dose on day 1.

Expressing this another way, we can dilute the concentrate for daily use:
- Take 400ml of fertilizer
- Add 3,600ml of water to make a 10% concentration in a 4L container.

Despite reducing the fertilizer concentrate to 10%, we maintain the fertilizer manufacturer's "dose rate" recommendation.

If they suggest 50ml of fertilizer per 10L of water, then we use this rate…except that our “fertilizer” has been reduced to allow us to fertilize each and every day.

The following diagram suggests how adopting this approach ensured nutrients are always available to the trees.

Improved fertigate fertilizing approach and improved healthier trees

It is simple and easy to fertilize each day using a fertigate automatic fertilizer unit.

All you have to do is follow the three simple steps and start fertilizing

Step 1 - Set the dial to the desired fertilizer rate

Step 2 - Place the suction filter into the fertilizer bottle Step 3 - Start fertilizing

Step 1
Set the dial to the desired fertilizer rate

Step 2
Place suction filter into fertilizer bottle

Step 3
Start fertilizing


We have been fertilizing each and every day for a long time and our bonsai, orchids, vegetables and plants have never looked better. They are healthier, more resistant to pest and disease than ever before.

Consider one of the fertigate range and enjoy watching your bonsai develop and quickly and as healthy as ours.

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