How to Grow a Bonsai Tree: Channel Your Creativity While Cultivating this Miniature Tree

How to grow a bonsai tree header

Bonsai trees are just beautiful. You can have your own tree indoors, which is just fantastic. So, how to grow a bonsai tree? It’s not that difficult!

Read on to find out how…


What to Know About Bonsai Trees?


Bonsai originated in Japan. The word literally means “tray planting.”

That makes sense because the process is actually growing a miniature tree on a shallow container. 

Look:

Growing a bonsai tree is a Japanese art form. It has been part of the Japanese culture for thousands of years. 

Similar practices are also present in other Asian countries like China and Vietnam, but they have their own terms. 

However

It’s the Japanese one that really made it around the world. 

The basic bonsai practice is ingrained in the cultivation techniques that will allow plants to grow mimicking the look of regular trees.

This way, the tree that you usually see outside? Well, now you can have it inside your home. 

Unlike regular trees

You don’t actually grow bonsai to harvest fruits. You also don’t grow them for paper.

The leaves can’t be used for the creation of medicines either. 

Basically

You are growing bonsai trees for your satisfaction. 

It is a hobby since you need to take care of this plant in order for it to grow that way you want it to. 

Man holding bonsai tree

You know what?

It’s really quite satisfying!

You get to take care of something that you love. Bonsai trees are really beautiful, too.

It’s like having your own trees inside the house. 


5 Reasons to Grow Bonsai


There are real and practical reasons why you should grow bonsai trees at home. Check these out:

1. Beautiful

They can be your decorative pieces at home. 

Look, you grow flowers because they are beautiful and colorful. 

It’s the same here

You grow bonsai trees because they are beautiful and lively. 

That green color really pops out.

It may no be as colorful

Flowers have different colors and you usually only get different shades of green from bonsai trees. That doesn’t mean it is any less beautiful. 

You just look at the shape of a bonsai tree and see the art in it. 

Plus

Every tree has a different shape or curvature that makes it a really great and exciting indoor collection. 

In other words, every tree is unique. 

Since they are unique and beautiful, they can easily…

2. Liven up your home

You should have a collection of bonsai trees because the unique form of every tree can really liven up the space. 

If you have a very neutral-colored space, the greens of the bonsai trees add that much-needed pop of color. 

Here’s something exciting:

If you believe in feng shui, apparently, bonsai trees are known to encourage positive energy into a room. 

These trees will make you happy. They will make others happy too, so you can invite guests anytime you want. 

By the way

You can really have a number of bonsai trees if you want because…

3. They fit in any space

Even if you have a small space, it’s not a problem. You can have a few bonsai trees without any of them invading much of your space. 

You can have a number of them on a cabinet or near the window.

You can put a bonsai tree on a center table and it immediately brightens up the living room or any space. 

Bonsai tree indoors

And

You could put one in your bathroom. Remember what we told you about the zen quality of the bonsai?

Then it’s perfect for the bathroom. 

4. They can live a long time

Did you know that bonsai trees can live for decades? They can outlive you even. 

This means that you won’t ever be lonely at home as your bonsai trees can be your companion.

Boom!

You have to trim the bonsai tree regularly so you can keep the shape that you want.

In a way, you will be shaping the growth of the bonsai tree. 

5. You get to express yourself

As earlier mentioned, growing bonsai trees is an art. It’s also quite personal. 

In a way, you will be creating your art through the tree. You will be guided by your feelings. 

In other words

It is subjective and deeply personal. It’s about what you want and how you want the tree to look. 

Don’t worry

It’s so easy to tend to your bonsai trees, which is why it’s a really worthwhile hobby. 

You don’t need to spend a lot of time with it and it doesn’t die quickly. 

You got that right!

How do you take care of the bonsai tree?

Let’s talk about that in the next topic, which is how to grow a bonsai tree. You have to grow the tree before you will be able to take care of it. 

Close up of Bonsai tree

How to Grow a Bonsai Tree


It’s not that difficult to grow a bonsai tree. Here are some of the steps:

1. Getting a pre-bonsai

Where do you want to put your bonsai tree?

Most options are indoors, but this actually limits the species that you can grow. The outdoor options are more varied. 

Moving on

The best thing to get is a pre-bonsai. This way, you can actually see it grow. 

But why a pre-bonsai and not a seed or seedling?

Well

It actually takes years to make a pre-bonsai. 

Expert bonsai planters have a meticulous way of making bonsais. 

How?

A real bonsai is cut from the ground and potted. 

It takes years to tend to it and make it a perfectly shaped bonsai tree–something that looks like a real tree on a pot. 

That’s why

It will be more advantageous if you just get a pre-bonsai. 

This is already a “pre-trained” bonsai. It is not yet on its final shape so you can tend and shape it the way you want it. 

If you want the real experience

Buy the unpotted bonsai tree. 

This way, you can also choose the pot for your tree or trees. 

You know what else?

Not only will you get the full experience of growing your own tree when you buy a pre-bonsai, it’s also cheaper. 

That makes sense considering getting bonsai trees entails years of effort from the seller. 

2. Potting the pre-bonsai

If you look at bonsai trees, you’ll notice that they have different containers. You don’t use regular pots on them. 

Bonsai containers are smaller than regular pots. They are also shallow. 

This is important

Small and shallow containers will scale the roots and the foliage of the tree. 

You don’t see bonsai with large leaves. 

On to the soil

You can use normal garden soil for your bonsai tree. However, you should know that the growth and health of the tree are also affected by the soil you use. 

The best option for you is to buy a bonsai soil mixture in bonsai or gardening stores. 

3. Style your bonsai tree

This is really where your creativity kicks in. 

You have to know though, it’s not going to be easy. 

Man's hand cutting leaves of potted plant on table against gray background

Here’s the thing:

Expert bonsai planters have refined their techniques over decades of practice. 

However, you are not competing with them. Just make sure you know the basics and you can have your own beautiful bonsai tree. 

You know what skill you need to learn?

Pruning. 

This is probably the most important part of bonsai cultivation. 

That’s not to say…

All steps in cultivating a bonsai tree is important but pruning is really what makes a plant a bonsai. 

This is also where you can really use your heart in the process. 

Note:

Don’t use regular scissors for this. There is a concave cutter that is appropriate for bonsai trees. 

You may ask your local bonsai or gardening store for this. 

What do you cut?

Since you want to keep the bonsai tree at a particular height, you have to remove thick branches. 

When you have thick branches, the possibility is that it will grow at a longer length and may have larger and more leaves. 

Keep the balance

Everything should be proportionate. 

A large branch is quite easy to spot. 

Also

There may be some branches that look like they have unnatural twists. You might want to prune those too. 

Finally

You don’t want too many branches on your tree, so if there are a couple or more branches growing at the same height of the tree, prune the others and just leave one. 

This will also keep the tree neat. 

4. Shape your bonsai tree

Pruning isn’t everything. 

You also need a wire to shape the tree. 

What kind of wire?

  • Anodized aluminum
  • Annealed copper

The aluminum is more appropriate for deciduous trees while the copper is best for coniferous trees. 

Three bonsai trees

The process

Wire the branches that you want to shape and then bend them according to your preference. 

You have to monitor the wiring every few days because you don’t want the branches to scar. 


Caring for the Bonsai


Just because you’ve pruned and wired the bonsai tree doesn’t mean you are done with them. 

Different bonsai species have different needs but there are always basic care guidelines.

What are these?

First, you shouldn’t overwater the tree. That’s the basic rule.

However, different trees have different water needs. This is why it’s essential that you read about the species of bonsai tree that you grow so that you will learn how best to take care of them. 

Then there’s this:

Repotting.

Since the bonsai trees are in small containers, the soil will easily dry up. Easily compared to other plants. 

Every two years, the bonsai tree needs to be repotted.  

Another important thing:

Fertilization. 

Small container means little soil, which in turn means little nutrients. You need to fertilize the plant regularly.

However, you need to put them in small quantities. 

Bonsai tree

Again

The kind of fertilizer you need will also depend on the tree species. 


Summary


Cultivating bonsai trees is a really great hobby. It’s a great way to channel your creativity. After all, this is an old Japanese art form.

How to grow a bonsai tree? It’s actually quite simple. However, growing it from scratch will take years to actually grow. The best way is to buy pre-bonsai materials and see it grow to become a beautiful bonsai tree. 

Bonsai trees are truly beautiful. But did you know that it can also channel positive energy? There are just a number of great reasons why you should grow your own bonsai trees.


Useful Resources

  • What Is Bonsai? Definition and Meaning – Bonsai Empire
  • Story of the 395-Year-Old Bonsai that Survived US’ 1945 Hiroshima Bombing – Republic World
  • Gardening Bonsai: For Stunning Bonsai, Go Back to Its Roots – The Guardian
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