Growing Bonsai Trees The Right Way

When the word Bonsai is mentioned in conversation, most people probably think of a beautiful, tiny, juniper bonsai tree planted in a small dish. While juniper is a good choice for bonsai, it is by far not the only one. Most any plant, trees and shrubs in particular, can be grown this way. Of course, some are more easily adapted to this type of growth and are more easily cultivated. While bonsai trees are the most popular, growing a bonsai bush isn’t unheard of.

If you are considering growing a bonsai you must be aware that it is a long term process and one that will take as many as 10 years to obtain the desired results. Whether it’s an indoor bonsai or outdoor, much like taking in a new dog or cat, your bonsai tree will need a commitment of your time for many years to come.

How To Make a Bonsai Tree

Growing a bonsai tree is a rewarding and intricate art that requires patience, dedication, and horticultural knowledge. The process starts by selecting a young tree specimen suitable for bonsai, often from species like maple, pine, or juniper. But there are others like ficus microcarpa, which basically a fig tree.

Careful pruning, wiring, and training help shape the tree’s form over time. Adequate sunlight, proper watering, and appropriate soil are crucial to maintaining its health. The art of bonsai involves a delicate balance between nature and human intervention, seeking harmony and balance in every detail. Watching the tree evolve and mature is a gratifying experience, allowing one to connect with nature on a profound level.

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Choosing the Right Bonsai Plants For You

Having decided to make the commitment, now you will need to choose the type of plant you want to grow and if you want to grow it from seed or buy a healthy plant at a nursery. Most of all, you need to do research on the types of plants you are considering. Talk to local nurseries and other bonsai enthusiasts for suggestions.

bonsai tree
Bonsai Tree

Pruning Bonsai The Correct Way

Many people understand that a bonsai plant requires pruning to keep the plant small. It also requires cutting back the root system to keep the plant small. Although not done as often as maintenance pruning, it is a necessary task for the health and beauty of the plant. Generally, when a major pruning is performed, it is best to cut the roots as well to provide balance on both top and bottom. One should never cut more than one-third of the plant.

bonsai trees
Selection of Bonsai Trees

While most any kind of tree or bush can be used for bonsai, evergreens such as juniper, pine and yew are usually the most common. These kinds of trees can be pruned with the use of finger pruning and no equipment is required. Pinching off and pruning encourages fuller growth. When using a deciduous or tropical type of tree, a pair of small, sharp scissors is required for good pruning.

ficus microcarpa

Pruning your tree helps to train it into the desired shape and helps to keep the leaves small. An area that is heavily pruned will not have as much growth as an area with little pruning. Removing unwanted growth will encourage growth in the areas you want more. Something to keep in mind is to prune during the correct time of season for your plant. You don’t want to do any major pruning and send your plant into shock when it would normally be having a growth spurt.

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ficus ginseng

Choosing The Right Bonsai Pots

Of course you will need a shallow planter for your bonsai plant to call home, as well as the correct type of growing medium. We talk more about that below.

Choosing the right bonsai pot is vital to enhance the tree’s aesthetic and health. Key considerations include size, material, and style. The pot’s size should be proportionate to the tree, providing ample room for root growth without overpowering it. Different materials, like ceramic, clay, or plastic, offer unique advantages, such as moisture retention or breathability. The pot’s style should complement the tree’s overall design, considering factors like color, shape, and texture. For formal trees, classic rectangular pots work well, while more organic shapes fit informal designs. Ultimately, the perfect bonsai pot elevates the tree’s beauty and reflects the creator’s artistic vision.

Bonsai Tree Care For Best Chance at Success

A combination of normal soil mixed with some sand and grit will do the job. It is also possible to buy special planting mix. Your planter must have proper drainage so that you won’t get root rot. Feed using a liquid fertilizer and follow the directions. You can read more about bonsai fertilizing in our article: Bonsai Trees Fertilizing Tips. It is a good idea to use the kind that is made for your type of plant.

bonsai tree care
Bonsai Tree Care

Water your bonsai or plant by checking it about every two weeks. Press a finger about in inch into the soil and if it is dry you should water it to the point where the water begins to drain from the drainage holes. If the soil is still damp, you can wait another week.

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Taking care of a plant and watching it grow and flourish can be a very satisfying experience. Just ask any gardener. Growing a bonsai tree can be especially easy because it doesn’t require a lot of bending and weeding. Growing a bonsai only takes a lot of time and perseverance for growing and shaping your tree. Growing, pruning and shaping your tree can provide enjoyment for you and your loved ones for many years to come.

bonsai tree

japanese garden with bonsai trees
Bonsai Garden

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been completely updated.

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