When I first went with Grace to the Bonsai House to choose a plant and a pot, she was excited. Together we repotted ficus in bonsai soil. This is fun with kids. You have to free up the roots from the soil, so there’s a lot of dirt to mess around it. Since then, the kids’ participation has been limited to watering. (Pinching and reshaping will come later.)
Having the kids help with watering is very helpful for me. We water following a three-step process I read about, and together it can take a good 20-40 minutes. Having the kids involved makes it fun. Step #1: Spray the plant and the soil with water. This prepares the dry soil to absorb water. Step #2: Fully saturate the soil. Once a week we do this with a 50%-strength mix of Miracle-Gro. Step #3: Come back ten minutes later and water again to wash toxins away from the now rehydrated roots.
Recently plant maintenance led to a lot of questions about roots (what do they do?) and leaves, and why we water, and what’s Miracle-Gro for. Right now there are a lot of opportunities for these discussions as we play outside, but soon snow will be blowing, and the bonsai will come inside giving us opportunities all winter long.