Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

Caring for the Satsuki Azalea bonsai is a popular activity among bonsai enthusiasts. Regardless if it’s only for a hobby or a full-time endeavour, it’s always a good idea to know why and how to properly care for these wonderful trees. This bonsai is known for its delightful sprouts of flowers with a good range of colours, shapes, sizes, and patterns. You’ll see the blooms every five months thus the name Satsuki which simply means “Fifth Month”, and the flowering stage can last up to 6 weeks at optimal conditions, the gorgeous flowers will bloom around May to June. 

They key Tree Features of a Satsuki Azalea.

A bonsai’s key feature can be from its unique bark and stem to its beautifully shaped foliage and the colours of the bright flowers that can bloom. For anyone wanting to own a bonsai where the main feature is bright flowers and beautifully shaped foliage, perhaps the Satsuki Azalea is your best option. Even as a small shrub, the “canopy” is certainly going to be crowned with multiple flowers at once. The flowers can have a diameter of up to seven inches, despite the flowers emitting barely any scent, it makes up for in colours. White, red, pink, blue, purple is going to be the typical colours available for this bonsai, but it depends on the variety. The leaves, when touched, have a bit of a hairy feel to them. Satsuki Azaleas tend to have thick well grooved trunks which are also a main feature as it can show age and maturity which is also priced into the cost of the bonsais.

What Temperature climates can the Satsuki Azalea handle?

When it comes to temperature, Satsuki Azalea’s quite a hardy plant meaning it can withstand lower temperatures even needed. The optimal temperature outdoors would be anywhere from 1.66° C to 12° C or 35° F to 55° F. In its dormancy, mulch should be applied at the base or the rim of the pot. It can also be used as protection from pest. Azaleas can, however, withstand temperatures as low as -15° C within unheated greenhouses and foil tents. At these temperatures, leaf loss of up to 50% is expected.

How much light does your Satsuki Azalea bonsai need?

Just as it is picky with temperature, it is also important to place your bonsai in the correct place for it to receive optimum light conditions if possible. Bonsai lovers can try a variety of conditions when it comes to exposure to light. Though remember that bonsai should not be kept under intense sunlight for long. Half a day of full sunlight is enough, or a full-day exposure but minimal sunlight intensity. So, when trying to position the bonsai, look for spots around the garden that will offer either of these optimal conditions. You might try to position the plant on the eastern side of the house where it will get full sunlight from dawn to lunch, then it’s all shadows during the afternoon.

How to water your Satsuki Azalea bonsai?

The roots of Azaleas can be sensitive to drying out, so ensure that the soil is constantly moist but not dripping, think of a squeezed sponge. If using tap water, make sure it does not contain lime. If you have the ability to store rainwater, it’s best to use that instead. Using water with lime can disrupt the soil’s pH levels. If you are unsure if it is on the proper level of 4.5 to 6.0, there are devices out there that Miyagi Bonsai offer that can be used to measure soil acidity. Watering should be done regularly, and the soil should not be allowed to dry out completely.

When to use Fertilizer for your Satsuki Azalea Bonsai?

The advisable interval for giving fertilizers is every two weeks during the flowering period. Use weak organic fertilizer that is balanced (fertilizers with an equal rating of NPK). But, only give fertilizers just before flowering starts as going beyond this stage will result in the loss of flowers. 

Side note, fertilizers have different functions depending on the mix. A fertilizer with higher nitrogen will encourage leaf growth and no flowers, while more potassium and phosphorus will encourage flowers and lesser leaves. When buying fertilizers, take note of the numbers printed on the packaging like 1-1-1 or 10-10-10. These numbers represent the N-P-K ratios. Use the appropriate ratio for your plant. Miyagi Bonsai offer a Bonsai Feed with the ratio of Nutrient makeup is N:4 P:6 K:6 giving a balanced feed for all bonsais.

How to train and prune your Satsuki Azalea bonsai.

Training in the bonsai world refers to the act of maintaining or encouraging a plant to grow in a desired way. When it comes to Azaleas, the use of aluminium wires is more preferable to copper. The Japanese purposefully developed aluminium wires just for this reason. Aluminium is generally light so it does not put too much pressure on the plant since the bark is soft and thin, making it susceptible to scratch. Injuring the bark can easily destroy the plant’s aesthetics. Other materials like plastic tape or raffia are used for bark protection. The wiring should be done in November which is the best time to do maintenance. When wrapping the wire around the stem, it should be tied in a spiral at a 45-degree angle. Take care not to tighten too much. Training is a very sensitive process and should be taken with utmost care and patience. One wrong move can easily cause the plant to grow into the wrong shape or even die in severe cases.

The pruning process is simple but it does require a bit of an almost surgical approach. Cutting tools should be sanitized as much as possible. The area where the pruning took place must be sealed with a wound sealant. Once the flowering stage is over, the base of the dead flower must be cut off to avoid growing seeds and promote young leaves to grow. Expect new shoots to sprout around areas that have been cut and to get the best look, remove branches that grow steeply up or down. Basically, decide on the appearance you want the plant to grow into and trim the branches accordingly. Miyagi Bonsai offer the correct tools to prune your bonsais correctly.

Cuttings and propagation.

Do you have a perfect species of Satsuki Azalea that you would like to clone? Then Propagating Azaleas are quite easy and simple by taking a cutting it can be regrown. Cut the branch at an angle of 45 degrees so that it will be easier to drive it into the ground like a stake. When propagating directly into the ground, do it at the beginning of the rainy season to increase the chances of sprouting leaves. The condition for growth is even more ideal at this time especially in places where it only rains in the afternoon. When planting into a pot, make sure to follow the correct procedure and water it regularly.

How to go about Repotting or Transplanting your bonsai.

Timing is important when transplanting Azaleas or any plant for that matter. In the case of an Azalea plant, repotting should be done after the flowering stage but if it can’t be helped and transplanting has to be done during the flowering stage, remove all flowers before doing so. Failure to remove the flowers will result in putting additional stress on the plant as flowers require energy to keep alive. Removing the flowers will allow the main plant to focus all of its efforts in adjusting to the new location, primarily in establishing new roots. Trimming the root ball is a must to avoid rotting. The final shape of the root ball must be an inverted cone. It is also imperative to locate the plant in an area with low sunlight. 

Dealing with Insects and Pests on your bonsai.

Satsuki Azaleas need regular checkups and as the owner, the usual places to check for infestation are the leaves, particularly under the leaves. If you see white, silver or black stains, there’s a high probability that pests or fungus. Removing them may require the use of fungicide or insecticide. However, if you need a quick fix, you can use neem oil which Miyagi Bonsai offers in the Bonsai Care category. Dilute a small amount in a gallon of water and spray. If the damage is severe, you may have to cut out the infected bits and throw them. If you can burn the infected pieces after cutting them off from the plant, do so.

To get the best results, inspect the plant for severely infected areas and cut them off before spraying. If you spray before cutting, there’s a possibility that eggs or larvae will just fall to the ground. It’s best to secure the pests first and remove them from the site.

Outro

Taking care of Azalea bonsai requires a lot of commitment that is as long as the tree’s lifetime. This particular cultivar is one of the most coveted in the Japanese market and can cost up to thousands of pounds. Growing a Satsuki Azalea bonsai tree, or any bonsai tree for that matter, requires years of experience just to get the best result. This isn’t the type of plant that can be left to grow on a south side window. Some of these trees have been around for centuries and that also contributes greatly to the expensive price tag.

Disclaimer

When looking for help about how to look after bonsai, widen your research, and don’t just stick to just one resource. The information you find in this article is certainly not enough to cover all your bonsai-caring needs, this is just to give a general idea of what things you need to know. Listen to experienced bonsai owners and see how they take care of their trees. Narrow your research to the particular tree of your choice to save time.