Everything about Bonsai Trees: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Bonsai Trees

Being around for more than a thousand years, bonsai is popular all over the world as a decorative plant, both indoors and outdoors. The most popular ones are those that are from China and Japan, but through the years, there have been several variations of the plant. If you are interested in growing bonsai, keep on reading and we’ll share some of the things that you have to do, especially when it comes to the care and maintenance of the plant.

What is Bonsai Tree?

Bonsai is a Japanese word, which literally means planted in a container. It is deeply rooted in Chinese horticultural practice and Japanese Zen Buddhism. People who grow bonsai have one main goal – to create a miniature and realistic version of a tree. It is important to note that bonsai is not a plant that is genetically dwarf. Rather, it can be any tree.

Growing a bonsai tree requires the mastery of different techniques, which will prevent the tree from growing tall. This makes it a form of art as well. Some of the things that you need to learn include pinching, pruning, and wiring, which will be important in limiting the size of the tree as it grows.

Bonsai Tree

People Who Grow Bonsai have One Main Goal – to Create a Miniature and Realistic Version of a Tree

When bonsais have been first introduced, it was exclusive to the people from the higher class. It was only in the 17th century when it became popular amongst commoners. It was Japan that introduced bonsai to the rest of the world as an artistic pursuit.

Physical Characteristics of Bonsai Tree

The physical characteristics may differ, basically because you can plant almost any tree and grow it as a miniature version. Their appearance will depend highly on the type of bonsai, which we will discuss further in the next section.

Nonetheless, for experts, there are some things that they look at in the physical growth of bonsai to judge its appearance. Among others, one of the most important is to have a trunk that shows a lot of character. The trunk should taper as it goes up. The bottom part of the trunk must be entirely visible.

It is also important that the arrangement of the branches is in ascending order. With this, if you look at the bonsai tree from the top, it must form a triangular shape, even if the sides are not equal in terms of length.

Another important characteristic that must be present in a bonsai is that the roots should radiate from the base of its trunk. Part of the root must be visible, although they should never cross one another.

The maximum height of a bonsai tree should be four feet. Its height must be proportional to the size of its canopy. It is also necessary that the bonsai comes with a healthy foliage, which is an indication that it receives the care and maintenance that it demands.

Different Types of Bonsai Tree

Before growing bonsai, it is important to be familiar with the different types and styles that are available, which include the following:

This is a formal upright bonsai tree. It looks like a gothic cathedral in a straight line. Because of its simple form, this is one of the easiest for beginners in growing bonsai. Pick a tree that comes with a straight trunk if you prefer this style.

Chokkan Bonsai

A broom-style bonsai, this is the right style if you intend to grow a deciduous tree that comes with fine branches. It looks like an inverted broom.

Hokidachi Bonsai

This is a type of bonsai that showcases beautiful curves. Because of its shape, it is seen as a symbol of grace.

Moyogi Bonsai

This bonsai has a slanting shape, which is achieved basically because the wind blows in one dominant direction. The tree must be strong enough to survive the harsh external environment.

Shakan Bonsai

This is a cascading type of bonsai. It has trunks or branches that extend low and under its container. This is also believed to be one of the oldest bonsai styles.

Kengai Bonsai

Aside from knowing the styles that are available, you should also learn about the trees that are generally used to create a bonsai. While the list can be almost endless, some of the most common are the following: Japanese maple, Chinese elm, juniper, azalea, pine, and cypress, among others.

How to Plant Bonsai Trees

The first thing that you need to do is to choose the tree to plant. There are many choices that you might want to consider, but one of the best is juniper, especially if you are a beginner. Decide whether you will grow the bonsai indoors or outdoors, which will also help you to choose the right tree to grow. Equally important as the type of tree is the type of container that you will use. It should have generous space to accommodate the growth of the tree.

Take Care of Bonsai Tree

It Should Have a Fresh and Nutrient-Rich Soil

Assuming that you will create a bonsai from a tree that has already grown, you need to prepare it. Prune it in the shape and size that you desire. Take it out from the pot and clean the roots. Hold the tree firmly, making sure that you will not break its stem. Brush the dirt and use tweezers to cut the root. Do not worry about trimming the root as it will grow again. Next, get the pot ready. It should have a fresh and nutrient-rich soil. You should use a new pot to prevent the transfer of pathogens or infections. The soil also needs to be well-draining. Pot the bonsai tree, making sure to cover the root system. This is important to limit the growth of the tree, which will result to its miniature size.

Common Pests and Diseases

The pests and diseases that can cause an infestation in bonsais will be largely dependent on the type of the tree that you will plant. Some of the pests can include spider mite, aphids, red spider, nematodes, caterpillars, thrips, and snails, among others. On the other hand, in terms of diseases, you should watch out for powdery mildew, rust, and twig blight.

How to Take Care of Bonsai Trees

To keep the bonsai in its tip-top condition and to maintain its health, the following are some of the things you have to do:

  • One of the most important is the proper positioning of the bonsai. This will depend on a couple of things, such as the tree that you are growing and the season. In the spring, summer, and fall, it will be safe to leave bonsai outside. In the winter, bring it indoors.
  • For the plant to stay healthy, fertilizing is necessary. The amount of soil in a pot is minimal, which is why you need fertilizers that will supplement the nutrient requirements of the plant. Most general-purpose fertilizers will do the job.
  • Watering the bonsai tree is also critical. Water the plant when the soil is already dry. Increase the frequency of watering during the dry season or in days of extreme heat. Species of the tree, size of the pot, and type of soil will also dictate the need for watering.
  • Another important thing that warrants your attention is keeping its compact size and shape. Regular pruning is necessary. Pinching and trimming will prevent it from growing wider and taller. When cutting any part of the tree, use bonsai trimmers and not just any scissors.


From the discussion above, it is clear that bonsai does not refer to a specific tree. Rather, it can be any tree that comes in a miniature size. It is possible to grow bonsai on your own, but you need to be patient and educated about the requirements to keep the plant healthy while being able to retain its size.

Leave a Reply