Bonsai FAQ

I list in this Bonsai FAQ page the most frequently asked questions with regard to bonsai, together with relating answers.

If you can’t find your question and answer here, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Let’s build a list of frequently asked questions about bonsai together.

Bonsai FAQ - General Questions

What is bonsai and how can I care for one?

Bonsai, pronounced "bone sigh", means a tree planted in a pot. To care for a bonsai tree, you need to learn bonsai techniques such as: watering, fertilizing, trimming, pruning, wiring, etc. See more about taking care of bonsai tree.

Can any plant be a bonsai?

Technically, yes. But a good bonsai tree needs to meet several requirements:

  • Woody structure
  • Small leaves
  • Aged looking trunk

Is it cruel to the tree in any way?

No! Plants are not mistreated or tortured in any way to make a bonsai. Water and fertilizer may be carefully regulated, but plants are not starved to make them small. In fact, with all the attention they receive, bonsai can be pampered plants.

Can bonsai be grown indoors (home/office)?

Not all of bonsai species are suitable for growing indoors, where environment lacks some of five basic elements necessary for tree’s growth: water, temperature, relative humidity, light intensity and air circulation. One of species easy to cultivate indoors is the ficus, e.g. weeping (benjamina), mistletoe (diversifolia) and creeping (pumila).

What is the best Bonsai tree species for beginners?

For growing indoors - The Chinese Elm and Ficus are the easiest.
For growing outdoors - The Pines and Junipers for evergreen species, and Maples for deciduous are the best for a newbie.

Are bonsai trees very, very old?

Not really. Bonsai growers apply techniques or even tricks to make bonsai trees look older than they really are. Except for aged masterpiece, most of common bonsai are not so old. See how old the oldest bonsai tree is.

How long can a bonsai live?

Outdoor bonsai can live hundreds of years! If you keep your Indoor bonsai well, it can live 20 years or more.

How is the age determined?

The age of propagated trees is usually documented. The age of collected trees is estimated based on the number of seasonal wood layers in removed branches or exposed dead wood or by the diameter of the trunk compared to similar specimens of known age.

Didn't I see these in a movie?

Maybe, bonsai are very attractive and interesting additions to the scenes in movies and television shows.

Is it expensive?

It depends. A finished bonsai tree with many year of training may cost thousands or even millions of dollars. But for your hobby, you can buy young trees and create bonsai yourself. That way can help save cost a lot.

Can anyone do it?

Sure, as long as you love it. Bonsai originated from China about 2000 years ago. Japanese then imported and refined it into an even more obsessive, meticulous art. Today, men, women, and children of many different backgrounds from around the world practice bonsai. Bonsai skills and techniques can be learned and developed.

Bonsai FAQ - Taking care of bonsai trees

How do I water my bonsai?

You should water your bonsai trees when they’re in need. A fixed schedule may not work for all trees. It’ better if you can understand watering requirement of each species, then satisfy it. In any way, don’t let the potting mixture too dry or too soggy.

How often should I fertilize my Bonsai?

To decide frequencies of fertilizing times, it is very important to know what type of tree your bonsai is. You can fertilize during the entire growth season of the tree, from early spring till mid autumn. Indoor trees can be fertilized around the year. Though sometimes there’s debate around fertilizing topics, e.g. organic vs. chemical, those go beyond scope of this Bonsai FAQ page. And you can always see more about fertilizer here.

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