Growing Bonsai Trees

Growing Bonsai Trees

The literal meaning of the word bonsai is planted in a shallow tray or container (suiban in Japanese) and refers to the attempt to artificially perfect natural tree forms in miniature. A recent trend is to plant a number of trees in a group and produce a miniature forest, or to plant trees and shrubs around rocks to give an impression of plant life on rocky terrain.

Bonsai can be grown from seed, collected from nature, or cuttings rooted. Adequate watering, sunshine, fertilizing and suitable soil are necessary and with careful pruning.

Trimming, wiring and re-potting, miniature growth is finally accomplished. These processes, however, require specialist knowledge and much practice and, for most household requirements, it is better to buy already established plants.


There are many tools available on the market – some highly specialized for the expert. Good tools are expensive, but cheaper ones are of inferior quality and a false economy. When you buy tools consider the type and size of bonsai you wish to work with.

Large trees require large, strong tools.

English: A bonsai forest planting of Black Hil...

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Small trees need fine, delicate tools.


You use wire not only to train the branches and trunks of trees, but also to anchor them firmly in place in their containers, or on rock plantings. The pliers have a dual function – they twist anchorage wires into shape and position, and also treat wood on the trunk to make jins.


These tools are all used for potting trees at the beginning of their life as bonsai, and then after I hat for the regular repotting that forms an essential part of routine maintenance. The mesh is used to cover the drainage holes in the pot to prevent the soil from seeping out of the container when watering the plant.


You may sometimes need to use various power tools when pruning thick bonsai trunks. The two most useful are the die grinder, and the rotary tool with flexible drive. Use this to refine carving carried out with the die grinder, or instead of it when working on smaller trees.

Because the amount of soil is very limited, Bonsai require frequent watering and this should be done when the top of the soil is still slightly damp. The amount, of course, varies with the seasons and trees require more water during periods of active growth. Spraying the leaves in Growing Bonsai Trees hot weather is also essential.

In general, a small amount of fertilizer should be given in spring and a larger amount in the autumn. Liquid nutrients have to be applied frequently and it is better to place a non liquid form on the soil surface, where it will break down gradually.

Sunshine and fresh air are essential if the trees are to remain healthy and spraying with an insecticide and/or fungicide regularly, as directed, will increase general protection. Some of the more tender species must be kept indoors during the winter, as well as young trees, deciduous trees with thin branches, trees in very shallow pans or on rocks and trees that flower or fruit during the winter season.

Re-potting must be done when roots begin to crowd one another. The roots can be loosened and some removed. The correct amount of fresh soil can then be replaced.

Ideally, bonsai should appear aged, yet with fresh foliage.

Proper potting and feeding will keep this appearance and new buds should be trimmed off occasionally to prevent the branches from growing and thickening. Withering may occur if the branches are badly trimmed.


Also known as tray landscape, this is a way of presenting a natural landscape (such as your favourite view) in miniature form. You can use each of the materials for a short-term composition, then promote the trees s to individual bonsai as they become mature.


This method of planting recreates the effect of a spinney, wood, or forest – with several trees growing together. The style must look natural and uncontrived, and is easier to achieve if you use odd numbers of trees. Most species are suitable for group planting.


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