Miniature trees that are traditionally planted in containers, bonsai trees are small trees that are meant to be cultivated and enjoyed indoors. An art form enjoyed by people all over the world, bonsai was first enjoyed by high-ranking aristocrats and officials in 14th century Japan.
Many gardeners shy away from growing bonsai trees indoors or even outside because they incorrectly assume that it will be too challenging. However, that’s far from the case. With the right information on how to take care of bonsai trees, you can grow your own miniature oasis in a container wherever you’d like.
Types of Bonsai Trees
Taking care of bonsai trees is easy if you start with the right type of tree. There are several types of bonsai trees that can be used, with most falling into categories such as deciduous, broadleaf evergreen, or conifer.
Two of the most popular types of bonsai trees are fig trees and juniper bonsai. An easy to take care of bonsai tree, the juniper genus actually comprises about 60 different species of plants in the cypress family. They’re evergreen and cone-bearing, making them a good choice as outdoor bonsai plants.
If you’re interested in deciduous types of bonsai trees, you will want to consider options like Japanese maple bonsai, trident maple bonsai, or Chinese elm bonsai. As the name implies, these bonsai specimens can also be grown outdoors and lose their leaves with the changing of the seasons.
Broadleaf evergreen species to consider include boxwood, privet, fuchsia, acacia, and jade. Many of these are tropical or subtropical plants, so they’re best grown as bonsai plants indoors.
Of course, you can’t overlook some of the other most popular bonsai specimens, like conifers and pines. Spruce, yew, and larch are all common species that are used for bonsai gardening.
Since bonsai simply means “in a container” in Japanese, there are very few plants for which bonsai growing is not acceptable. As long as you have the know-how necessary to grow plants in this fashion, you shouldn’t have any problem making them work in a bonsai setting.
How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree at Home
Bonsai trees vary in how much water they require, but in most cases, you will need to keep them humid and the soil moist. Spritzing your plant with a spray bottle filled with water is ideal but you can also water deeply once every few days.
Water whenever the top layer of soil appears dry and remember that overwatering can be just as problematic as underwatering. An overwatered tree will have yellow leaves and shriveled branches.
Of course, soil will play a valuable role in how moist your plant remains. Choose a soil that offers good drainage and add large particles, like stones or volcanic rock, to introduce more air.
Positioning Your Bonsai Tree Indoors
One of the most important considerations you’ll need to make when growing bonsai is where you will place it. This depends largely on what kind of tree you are growing.
Most types, like juniper, spruce, and pine, are outdoor plants that do need to be exposed to the changing seasons - just like their outdoor counterparts. Some bonsai are even deciduous, so their leaves will change, too.
However, many indoor bonsai trees are tropical so they don’t need to be grown outside. For example, Hawaiian umbrella trees, ficus trees, and jade plants all can be grown indoors.
Once you’ve decided whether to house your bonsai indoors or outside, it’s time to find it a proper home. Keep the plant away from direct drafts or heat. Make sure it’s in a location filled with sunlight, too.
Bonsai Tree Pruning
Pruning is one of the most important aspects of caring for a bonsai tree. You will usually need to trim the buds, leaves, and branches. This will encourage the development of smaller branches and will also let you control the shape of the tree. Pruning can cause the leaves to grow in a more compact fashion.
Prune whenever you notice new growth. If your bonsai is a flowering specimen, prune in the spring so new flowers will appear the next year.
You may also hear mention of a pruning technique known as structural pruning. This is a somewhat advanced method of pruning that will require you to prune when the tree is dormant. You’ll be cutting off structural branches, so you’ll need to exercise some caution.
You can also wire the branches of the tree, which technically isn’t pruning but will have the same effect when it comes to shaping it. Wrap a thin wire around the branches you want to control, ideal during the winter after the leaves have fallen off.
Trimming and Repotting a Bonsai Tree
Another task you may have to put on your to-do list is repotting. Repotting will help you remove excess, overgrown roots, which not only restrict the tree’s growth but can also cause it to starve. It will help your plant thrive even when grown inside a small container.
To repot your bonsai, gently remove the tree from the pot. Using sharp shears, trim back the outer roots. Clean the pot and replace the soil with fresh soil before replanting your tree.
Bonsai Tree Fertilizer
Bonsai tree fertilizer is necessary to keep your plant growing healthy and strong. Ideally, you should choose a fertilizer that contains equal parts of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen.
Fertilize prior to getting your plant and whenever you fertilize during the growing season, make sure you have watered your tree thoroughly. This can prevent the fertilizer from burning the roots of your tree. Make sure you read all application instructions carefully.
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Taking Care of a Bonsai Tree: Easier Than it Sounds!
Growing a bonsai tree isn’t just enjoyable - it’s a hobby that you’ll likely want to pursue the rest of your life. Fortunately, it’s not as challenging as you might assume it to be. Bonsai trees are some of the easiest plants to care for as long as you know what you’re doing. Hopefully, this guide has been helpful in convincing you that you’re capable of taking on this exciting task.
Are you interested in growing your very own Bonsai Trees? We got our very own Bonsai grow kit for you that is available via our website or via Amazon.