When you're just getting started you'll have lots of questions about the art of Bonsai, the techniques involved, and what tree species to select.
We have collected the most frequently asked Bonsai questions on our forums and compiled a list. The 25 most common Bonsai questions answered:
Taking care of a Bonsai is a little more work than keeping a regular plant alive. However, If you place your tree in the right location and water it correctly, you should have no problems caring for a Bonsai.
You can buy a Bonsai online, or for the full experience, you can make one yourself. Check out our YouTube channel for tutorials on how to make a Bonsai from cheap nursery stock material. For an even more immersive experience, you can choose to grow your Bonsai from seeds. This gives you full control over your Bonsai, but it takes a few years before you can start shaping and styling.
Whether or not you can keep your Bonsai indoors depends on the tree species you have. Indoor climates are only suitable for a handful of tree species; sub-tropical plants like the Ficus, Carmona, and Hawaiian umbrella.
Whether or not you can keep your Bonsai outdoors depends on the tree species you have. In most climates, non-tropical tree species are suitable to grow outside. Make sure to check our tree species guides for more information.
The word “Bon-sai” is a Japanese term which, literally translates to, “planted in a container.” The art of Bonsai derives from an ancient Chinese horticultural practice, part of which was then redeveloped under the influence of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
It’s very important that you don't water on a fixed schedule. Keep a close eye on the topsoil, and when you see that it’s drying out slightly, water it. When you water your Bonsai, do so thoroughly to ensure that the entire root mass is wetted. Forgetting to water is an immediate problem. Too much water can lead to problems in the long run. So monitor your Bonsai and water when necessary. read more about watering Bonsai.
Yes, you can! Bonsai is not a tree species, it’s a combination of cultivation techniques to produce small trees that mimic the shape and scale of full-size trees in small containers. Ideally, we select tree species that naturally have small leaves and fruits. Some popular tree species used for Bonsai include the Maple, Pines, and Junipers.
Bonsai are made and kept small because they are planted in small containers and they receive regular pruning of the branches and roots.
Unless it’s fall season and you have an outdoor tree, Bonsai should not lose large amounts of leaves. Shedding lots of leaves is usually a sign of stress caused by inadequate watering or improper placement. Read our article on help - my bonsai is losing leaves or learn more about placement and watering to establish how you can optimize the care of your Bonsai tree.
Determine whether your Bonsai is alive or dead by making a small cut on a branch using your fingernail. If there's still a fresh green layer, the tree is alive. If it’s dried out, the tree is most likely beyond saving. Read about placement and watering to establish how you can optimize the care of your Bonsai tree.
Bonsai can get very expensive, mostly because of their age. Even the cheapest Bonsai sold in garden centers are often over five years old. All this time, they need to be watered, fertilized, and pruned. Some Bonsai trees are over a hundred years old and are therefore very expensive.
One tree we filmed recently was sold for $350,000 at a Bonsai exhibition held in Kyoto, Japan. But the most expensive Bonsai tree was sold for over $1,000,000. The tree was a centuries-old pine, grown in Japan.
How much a Bonsai tree is worth depends on its age, the taper and design of its trunk, and the overall design of the tree. The value of Bonsai increases with age, trunk quality, and precision of the design.
If properly cared for, Bonsai can outlive fully grown trees in nature. Some Bonsai trees are over 800 years old and were often collected in the mountains. These were passed on from father to son over generations in the Bonsai nurseries in Japan.
You can estimate the age of a Bonsai by comparing the growth of a tree to the diameter of its trunk. Most cheap Bonsai trees sold at garden centers are about 5 to 10 years old. Apart from counting the growth rings of a tree, the only exact way of establishing age is by taking a core sample.
Bonsai is no crueler than trimming your hedges or mowing your lawn. Bonsai techniques like pruning, wiring, and repotting are essential parts of ensuring a plant’s health. More importantly, Bonsai are grown with a lot of affection, patience, and care. They often outlive trees growing in nature.
Any tree species can be used for growing Bonsai, including Junipers, Maples and Pines. However, there are about a dozen classic Bonsai shapes and stylings which closely resemble nature; including forests and rock plantings.
We recommend repotting your Bonsai about once every three years. Replenishing the soil and pruning the roots are crucial techniques to ensure the long term health of your tree.
We recommend an inorganic substrate mix of Akadama, Pumice and Lavarock, available in all Bonsai stores. For most trees, 50% Akadama, 25% Pumice and 25% Lavarock is our recommended Bonsai soil mix.
Bonsai have shallow pots primarily for aesthetics, but also because shallow pots drain excess water easily and help keep the Bonsai healthy. It takes several repottings for a Bonsai to slowly get adjusted to smaller pots.
Take a look on our forum for any other Bonsai related questions you might have.