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  • Sun is one of the vital elements needed by each plant. It is by its action that leaves obtain carbon dioxide from the air and transform it in sugar which in turn feed each plant 'cells. In the same way, the other climatic elements also play an important role in the development of your bonsai.

    Must I place my bonsai in the sun?
    Yes, but the exposure's duration depends on the area you live in and of your bonsai. If you live in an area which has a lot of sunshine and hot summers, a continual exposure could lead to the substrate drying out too rapidly and scorching of the leaves. On the contrary, if your bonsai lacks of sun, it will have bigger leaves (to better capture light).
    Generally, all bonsais need regular exposure to the sun, including indoors bonsais (to bring outside as soon as temperatures allow it). It is necessary to slowly acclimatize them so as not to burn their foliage. In the same way, some bonsais such as Japanese Maples like a light shade in midsummer.
    In all cases, prefer a south facing spot, protected from draught.

    In their natural habitat, bonsais get hot, humid summers and dry, cold winters. These climatic conditions are ideal for their development. In our areas, it is mostly the opposite, that is to say, dry, hot summers and cold, wet winters. Therefore it is necessary to create a humid environment in summer, and to protect your bonsai from excessive humidity in winter.

    In summer: create a humid environment
    Dry air is 'the' bonsais' enemy. To keep a bonsai healthy, you really must create a humid microclimate around it. For this, avoid draught and place saucers filled with wet clay balls around your bonsai: the water will evaporate creating the required humid environment.

    In winter: avoid water excess
    As previously mentioned in the watering section, water-excess and stagnating water are detrimental as they prevent the right roots' oxygenation. This is even truer in winter as bonsais enter into vegetative dormancy and their water' requirements diminish drastically. Moreover, frost could make the container split... So it is important to shelter your bonsai from rain, especially if it is forecasted to last a few days. Also remember to bring your bonsai under shelter in case of snow as it blackens the leaves and can break branches.

    Cold and frost
    So as to continue their natural cycle, except for tropical varieties, plants need the seasons' alternation. The cold allow them to go into dormancy, leads to the tissues' lignification, and blossom for some specie... However, the low volume of soil around the roots makes them highly vulnerable (even more so if the substrate is really wet), and it will be necessary to protect your bonsai after one or two light frost. For stronger species, a simple root-protection will be sufficient (in a large pot filled with wood shavings for example), for others it will be wise to plan overwintering in a cold greenhouse, especially if the nights are really cold and if the temperatures do not go above 0C during the day! Remember to ventilate during the day as sunrays could quickly transform your greenhouse into a furnace...
    You must remain cautious until the end of spring as even the lightest of frost could damage the buds.

    A few tips: The sun and the cold are vital for the good development of your bonsai, however without excess; favour a south facing spot, sheltered from draught, a humid environment in summer and a shelter against rain and cold in winter.

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