Last September I found some conkers (Aesculus hippocastanum) and just for a laugh stuck them in a pot on my balcony. To my immense surprise four of them have germinated and it is now time to repot them. I have decided to try to grow them into bonsai trees but in my whole life the only things I've grown have been pots of herbs so this is something of an adventure for me. Which is largely the point.
I have been reading about bonsai and the basic things for me to bear in mind at this point seem to be, in no particular order:
* Keep the pot small(ish) to restrict root formation and hence size of tree.
* Gradually reduce organic proportion of soil and increase inorganic component
* Attend to daily and water as required - not to a schedule
* Trim rootball by as much as a third when re-potting
* Trim/pinch out new growth as required/desired for shape/form
* Apply fertiliser in some proportion at intervals to replenish nutrients
My main questions at this point are about timing
1) How long should I let the seedlings (they are currently six inches tall and have divided into two arms at the top with a five-fingered leaf on each arm) grow before trimming / pruning etc?
2) When should I start introducing inorganic component to soil, at the first re-potting (this week) or should I leave it until next year when they are more mature?
3) I was planning on re-potting into pots 5" across (because that's what I have), so how big will they grow in those pots and should I really be thinking about smaller (perhaps shallower) pots already?
You might find it helpful to know that these will stay outdoors on my balcony (south coast of England) year round; I have no plans (and no room) to move them indoors. So far I have not fed them at all, only water.
Thanks in advance for any reply.