growing bonsai indoors

The Art of Growing a Bonsai Tree

Growing Indoor & Outdoor Bonsai Trees

For anyone who wants to know about growing a bonsai or who already has one, everything you need to know about growing one is here in this easy to follow guide, from different trees to choose from, to growing, to care and pruning you will find it here without having to buy some costly book to tell you the same things I am revealing for free about the bonsai.

Bonsai’ is a Japanese word meaning ‘trees growing in shallow containers’. By the eighth century A.D. the Chinese and Indians were reputed for growing miniature trees in containers, however; by the 10 century A.D the Japanese took up the idea, developing it and turning it into a living art form.

Bonsai are kept small by keeping them pruned and growing them in a container which constricts their root growth and are rarely exceed 2 feet in height. Those grown outdoors sometimes do and those that are grouped together are usually less than 2 feet. One of the traditions of bonsai that are grouped together is that an uneven number of trees are usually grown.

This is because the Japanese uneven numbers as a representation of longevity. A group of four trees is never grown because the word four in Japanese is similar to the word death.

Trees to choose

As a general rule of thumb the best trees to choose for a bonsai are those that are small and slow growers because unlike fast growing trees that can reach up to 100 feet in 50 years slow growers will only reach 20 feet. Evergreens are popular and vary little from season to season but you can also grow flowering and fruit trees although you must remember for fruit trees make it small fruits like a crab apple rather then eating apple.

The tree you decide to grow should have small leaves or needles which do not take away from the perfect look of the miniature tree. The leaves on a bonsai will be naturally small however if you choose a tree with already natural small leaves you will have a head start in the process.

There are many trees that are not normally regarded as a bonsai however; they can be successfully grown into one. Although, do remember before going out and buying just any tree, find out the root habits and soil preferences of the tree, the more you know about it the greater chance you will have growing it successfully as a bonsai.

Listed below are some more popular trees to grow as a bonsai. They are all reasonable hardy and easy to keep alive…

*Chamaecyparis(False Cypress)
*Juniperus Communis(Juniper)
*Malus(Crab Apple)
*Prunus (Cherry,almond or apricot tree)
*Pyracantha Coccinea(Firethorn)

Grow Or Buy?

There are two way to obtain a bonsai,either you buy it or grow it. If you buy it you lose some of the absorbing work of pruning it and determining the shape you desire but you do see a mature end result. Bonsai’s can be bought from virtually any specialist nursery.

The alternative to buying is growing your own because bonsai trees can be rather expensive and you can grow your own from seed,seedling or a cutting.

Oak, beech, sycamore, willow and conifers are quite easy to grow as long as they are given enough warmth , moisture and air although, the drawback is they can take up to 100 years to be fully mature!

The most important points to look for when buying or growing is that the tree is small and attractive, that the trunk is thick in proportion to the height, that the tree and root look healthy and that it has small leaves.

How To Grow A Bonsai

An acorn or chestnut seed will grow if you plant it, you can take a cutting from a tree or if your lucky enough you will be able to obtain a seedling that is suitable. Cutting should be 3 inches long, cut just below a leaf node so they will be able to drink easily. Take softwood cuttings such as spruce in the spring and hard wood ones such as beech or oak in the autumn choosing the wood of that years growth.

To plant make holes in the side and bottom of the container. If it is a clay pot you will need to drill these in, if plastic you can cut them in with a sharp knife. Place crocks and gravel at the bottom of the pot to improve drainage, then fill the pot with a sandy compost. A seed should be planted about its own height below the surface and a cutting about 1/3 of the length and a seedling as a plant. Leave a half inch of space at the top of the pot for watering.

As the roots come through the holes in the pots snip them off and after one year in the pot if it is a seedling or cutting, two to three years if it was grown from a seed, repot into its new container and later begin pruning the top growth very carefully.


Use different grades coarse of mixed soil which are suitable for for your particular tree with some water retentive soil and some open and porous. If you use too fine a soil it will clog down and pact when watered and not enough air will get to the roots. Put the coarsest soil at the bottom of of the pot above the crocks and the finest around the roots and at the top.


Water bonsai about once a day,never allowing the soil to to dry out,but be careful not to overwater. The soil should be kept just moist at all times. In hot weather and the growing season you need to water more frequently and in colder weather less. Adding some synthetic grass can help even out your waterings by trapping some of the water.


Like all potted, bonsai need regular feeding with a liquid fertilizer during their growing season. This is because their roots are restricted and cannot stretch out like plants in the ground and search for food.


Repotting a bonsai is best done in the dormant season when they are not in growth. Repot spring flowering trees and deciduous trees in the autumn or early spring and conifers can be planted at any time except for the mid-summer and mid-winter.

Young plants needs repotting more frequently then older ones as they grow more quickly. To see if a tree needs repotting look at the bottom drainage holes, if more then two or three roots are coming through then it needs to be repotted. Let the soil dry out before repotting to make it easier for the tree to come out. Loosen soil from around the roots and repot with dry soil as this will allow air to circulate around the roots better.

Water well and then leave the tree in a protected place, in the garden if there is no chance of frost to recover and settle in better.

Root Pruning

This is done when repotting the tree and does not in itself dwarf a tree but rather promotes healthy growth. The fine roots feed the tree and the larger one act as an anchor to hold it in place. Carefully knock off most of the soil,then trim the large coarse roots as they are not really necessary to the bonsai. Also remove any broken and dead roots. There should be a space of roughly ¾ of an inch between the root ball and the side of the container.

Pruning roots this way will ensure they will get enough air. Too many roots tangled together or heavy soil prevent this. Remember to use a sharp tool when pruning them to avoid damage or bruising them.

A set of bonsai tools, from left to right: leaf trimmer; rake with spatula; root hook; coir brush; concave cutter; knob cutter; wire cutter; shears (3 sizes).Photo and photo information by Ragesoss on Wikimedia Commons.


Wire should be twisted around the trunk or branches of a bonsai to encourage and train growth into a particular direction or to develop a gnarled-looking twist. Do not wire immediately upon repotting as you must allow time for the tree to settle. Use copper wire except for cheery trees or young delicate shoot where pipe cleaners should be used. Don’t wire unnecessarily and be careful not to damage the branch.

Remove the wire as soon as the branch is set into its new position,leave wire on for no longer then a half year.

Binding with wire trains the bonsai trunk. When wiring the trunk of the tree, the end of the wire must be anchored so that it is taut enough to pull the trunk in the required direction. You can do this by inserting the wire through a drainage hole while you are repotting and then leaving it on the surface of the soil until you are ready to wire the trunk.

As with the branches leave wire on until trunk has set into its position,leave wire on no longer then a half year.

Top Pruning

Bonsai are pruned to give them shape and a bushy appearance. This should generally be undertaken in the spring. Never prune roots and top growth at the same time as this will put the plant into shock and will be harder for the tree to recover. Cut off the top tops to get a bushy look. Prune carefully to give tree the desired shape.

Think about the end result you want the tree to have,considering the angle from which it will be seen. If you are buying a ready-grown bonsai,you will of course only have to trim it because its basic shape will have already been established long before you bought it.

End Note

A bonsai is a great way to add unusual and interesting greenery to your home and it can be a very enjoyable hobby especially when considering the hobby is alive and needs both attention and care.. It is now up to you whether you want to buy or grow from the start. Either way, all that you need to know about growing one is mentioned above without having to pay for some costly book that is virtually going to tell you the same things.

I hope this article will be of use to you and your bonsai.

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