Bonsai Gardening, A Guide to Become Bonsai Shokunin

Bonsai gardening is a cool art that involves growing little trees in small pots. Over a thousand years old, bonsai gardening is popular all over  the world. It takes patience and creativity to shape the tree and make it look a certain way. It helps you learn about nature and is more than just a gardening technique. Bonsai gardening is a great way to bring nature into your home and feel peaceful, so let’s start with Guide Of Plants.

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The brief history of bonsai gardening

Bonsai gardening has a crazy cool history that goes back over a thousand years. It all started in China, where artists and scholars made these tiny landscapes called “Penjing” way back during the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). These penjing were super detailed and had tiny trees and rocks arranged to look like real nature scenes. 

Then, Japanese artists and scholars got into the game during the Heian period (794-1185 CE). They were really into Chinese culture, especially penjing, and started making their own mini trees which they called “bonsai,” meaning “tray planting.” Bonsai horticulture experienced a surge in popularity during Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868 CE) as it became linked with Zen Buddhism and the art of simplicity and harmony in nature. 

Bonsai Gardening
History of Bonsai –

Soon enough, bonsai gardening went global and became a popular hobby and art form all over the world. Today, the techniques and styles have changed a bit, but the basic idea is still the same – creating a tiny tree that looks like real nature in a small container. Bonsai gardening is a testament to how cool people are and how much we love nature. 

The Art of Bonsai Culture

This exercise aims to create a miniature version of nature inside a container, resembling a tree in its natural environment. The composition may vary, with some appearing caught in a strong breeze while others standing upright. 

A vertical image of a small bonsai tree in a black ceramic pot at a plant nursery exemplifies this practice. While most bonsai trees are grown outdoors, some can be kept indoors in low and wide or tall, deep pots. The roots are trimmed periodically to keep the plant small, and the tree is pruned regularly. 

The plant may be trained to grow into a specific shape using wire, although not all artists follow this step. While some may worry that keeping trees contained is cruel, bonsai trees are well cared for and may take just a few years or decades to create a beautiful specimen.

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How to start bonsai gardening “Key Points”

If you’re thinking about getting into bonsai gardening, it can be super rewarding and chill. But listen up, you have to have patience, dedication, and be down to learn some stuff. Let’s deep dive and know how you can create your own bonsai garden. 

  • First, do some research. Read some literature, view some visual aids, attend some lectures. Get a basic understanding of the techniques and principles.
  • Next, choose the right tree. For beginners, Juniper, Chinese Elm, and Ficus Bonsai are good choices. Make sure it’s young with a thick trunk and good branch structure.
  • Then, pick out a pot that complements your tree’s style and color and is the right size. Make sure it’s got drainage holes so your tree doesn’t drown.
  • Use soil that drains well and holds water, and give your tree a balanced fertilizer so it gets all the nutrients it needs.
  • Prune and train your tree by cutting off unwanted branches, shaping the trunk and branches, and wiring it so it grows in the direction you want.
  • Water your tree regularly, but don’t drown it. Check the soil for moisture and adjust your watering schedule as needed.

Bonsai gardening is a long-term project. Be prepared to invest the time and energy necessary for your tree to take years to reach the desired shape and size. But trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll have a beautiful mini tree that brings peace and happiness to your space. 

At the National Arboretum in Washington, DC, there are some bonsai plants over 300 years old.

Bonsai Gardening
Start bonsai gardening “Tips for Beginners” –

Start bonsai gardening “Tips for Beginners”

In the realm of bonsai gardening, beginners must take heed of certain crucial tips in order to ensure the thriving of their bonsai plants. 

One significant pointer is the importance of selecting the appropriate location for the plant. As different types of bonsai plants require specific environments for optimum growth. Outdoor bonsai trees require the correct amount of direct sunshine, but indoor species are more adaptable and can tolerate a range of lighting situations. As a result, it is essential to put the bonsai plant appropriately. 

Another vital aspect is the soil mixture, which many tend to overlook. The type of soil used can greatly impact the growth of the plant, thus prompting the need to select the correct soil mixture prior to potting the bonsai. 

The bonsai plant’s general health is significantly affected by the container it is placed in. Experienced gardeners follow a general rule where the pot’s length should be two-thirds of the tree’s height if it’s taller than it is wide. The container should be longer than it’s wide. If the tree is wider than it is tall. 

Proper watering techniques are also crucial to ensure the bonsai’s survival as excessive watering can lead to root rot. One must check the soil moisture levels by inserting a finger one to two inches into the soil and watering when the soil feels dry. 

Since the plant needs more than simply water to thrive, fertilizing it is equally crucial. Depending on the bonsai plant type, different fertilizers are needed for young plants versus mature plants. 

Repotting should also be done when necessary, such as when the roots start to emerge from the soil surface or cluster around the root ball. 

Regular pruning and shaping of the bonsai plant is crucial in maintaining its beauty and shape. Dead or brown leaves must be removed, and shaping should be done early on in the plant’s growth.

Bonsai soil

Soil is often overlooked as nothing more than a substance to anchor plant roots and provide water and nutrients. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to grasp that earth is an inanimate entity consisting of different synthetic substances, bacteria, and air. Bonsai trees require air to thrive, and the use of heavy or compacted soil can be lethal to your plant.

Garden soil is usually too dense for container plants to flourish, so a medium that permits air to reach the roots while retaining moisture is ideal. The magnitude and configuration of the receptacle are pivotal variables to consider when selecting or producing a cultivating substrate.

Bonsai Gardening
Bonsai soil –

Purchasing pre-made bonsai soil is the simplest option for beginners, but the quality and composition of these products vary. To appraise the medium’s moisture retention capacity, investigate the peat, humus, perlite, or vermiculite content. Alternatively, a bag of tropical mix designed for indoor plants of a similar size can be used.

Bonsai fertilizer

Bonsai trees grow in minimal soil, making it essential to provide them with the necessary nutrients as they do not have unlimited access to them. Bonsai trees also need sulfur, chlorine, boron, zinc, and magnesium.

To ensure the proper growth of bonsai trees, controlled-release fertilizer pellets are recommended, as they prevent nutrients from leaching out when watering. An ideal fertilizer ratio is 13-11-11, which includes slightly more nitrogen. However, fertilizing can be an inexact science due to varying essential mineral requirements across different bonsai species.

Bonsai Gardening, A Guide to Become Bonsai Shokunin
Bonsai fertilizer –

It is suggested to utilize fertilizers with small quantities of crucial minerals without excessively emphasizing exact proportions. When the plant is young and repotted frequently, soil replacement is necessary. As the plant grows older, the soil stays in place longer. It is wise to test the soil periodically to determine which specific nutrients are lacking and supplement accordingly.

Water for bonsai tree

Depending on the soil-to-root ratio and whether the bonsai is indoors or outdoors, you may need to water it daily in summer. Rock-grown plants need even more water than soil-grown ones. The substrate should be light and the container light to indicate watering. 

Low moisture makes the container sound hollow when tapped. Test the soil’s moisture. Drooping foliage indicates you watered too late. Avoid overwatering. Roots will drown. Don’t water if the soil is moist. Winter dormant outdoor plants should be watered less.

Bonsai pruning

A significant aspect of bonsai art involves trimming, not only the stems and leaves, but also the roots. It is necessary to lift the plant from its container and remove any dead, diseased, or damaged roots every few years, in addition to promoting the development of a dense mass. To produce an attractive form, encourage denser growth, and eliminate any unattractive or unhealthy growth, you must trim the branches, stems, and leaves above ground.

Bonsai Gardening
Bonsai pruning –

Necessary Supplies

A substrate and container are necessary to grow a bonsai tree. Soft, flexible wire can be used to shape the tree, while raffia can protect and aid in further shaping. Special concave pruners are recommended for the job, and can be purchased online if not available locally. 

Shears and shapers are also useful tools to consider. Grow lights and a watering can with precise aiming capabilities may also be necessary. However, adding miniature figurines is not encouraged in traditional Japanese bonsai practice. For more information on mastering bonsai, “Modern Bonsai Practice” by Larry Morton is a great resource that debunks myths and features portraits of exceptional bonsai for inspiration.

Managing Pests and Disease

Bonsai can be created from a wide range of plants. In result various bonsai diseases that can affect them. Determining the source of any issues with your vegetation requires carefully studying the specific fungus, bacteria, and insects with a history of attacking your selected species. As a general rule, it is recommended to remove any leaves with discoloration or damage and to be vigilant for signs of insects or eggs.

Tips to look at in Exhibit

Just be aware that breaking these rules will likely disqualify you from the competition if you ever intend to exhibit your tree.

  • Never plant anything besides the bonsai and moss in the pot.
  • Excluding all ornaments other than wood, rocks, soil, and moss.
  • As you move up the tree, the branches should get smaller and the trunk should taper from the bottom to the top.
  • To the trunk and branches, the foliage should be in proportion.
  • In no case should more than one species be grown in a single container.

Bonsai Gardening “ About Bonsai Tree”

The ‘bonsai art’ practice is implemented to evoke contemplation amongst onlookers while exemplifying the serene and adept cultivation of the horticulturist. A skilled Bonsai artisan can produce miniature trees of their natural equivalents.

Types of bonsai tree

A bonsai tree gets its size and shape by cutting off new growth and putting the roots in small pots. Bonsai can be grown by many different kinds of trees and bushes, such as Azalea, Ficus, Cypress, Norfolk Island Pine, Juniper, and Japanese Maple, to name a few. Many other species and forms are also used, though. But all of then are divided in two particular groups; 

Indoor Bonsai

Indoor bonsai, although not part of the tradition. It can be found in the market today and has the potential to thrive in the domestic environment. Among the most commonly found ones, the Ficus Bonsai and Norfolk Island Pine trees stand out as they are highly tolerant of low humidity and possess remarkable resilience, making them an ideal choice for those new to bonsai cultivation. 

Other indoor bonsai varieties include the Fukien tea tree (Carmona), Schefflera (Hawaiian umbrella), and Sageretia (Sweet Plum). These bonsai tree types require bright, indirect sunlight and, although not mandatory, would benefit from increased humidity levels to enhance their performance. It is suggested that a container of water be placed nearby, or the trees be positioned on a tray of pebbles with water to meet their needs.

Bonsai Gardening
Indoor Bonsai –

Indoor bonsai trees are generally selected from species capable of enduring low light and dry indoor conditions, namely Ficus, Jade, and Chinese Elm. Illumination is a crucial aspect to consider, as indoor bonsai trees require bright, indirect light, although direct sunlight may harm their leaves. 

It is best to position them near a window with filtered light or use grow lights as a supplement. As indoor surroundings typically lack humidity, misting the trees frequently or placing them on a humidity tray is necessary to prevent their leaves from drying out. 

Caring for indoor bonsai trees involves maintaining a temperature range of 15-24°C (60-75°F) and shielding them from extreme heat or cold; water them regularly, but be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.. Watering the trees when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch is recommended.

Outdoor Bonsai

Bonsai trees that are considered ‘traditional’ are typically cultivated outside, allowing them to imitate the needs of their larger counterparts. Although many tropical species can be grown as bonsai indoors, they cannot be sustained indoors. There are, however, cultivars that have been specifically designed for indoor growth. 

If nighttime temperatures remain above 40 degrees, a traditional bonsai can be displayed outdoors. If temperatures drop below 40 degrees, bonsai can be kept indoors with the help of grow lights or a south facing window. It’s important to acknowledge that nearly all bonsai necessitate elevated moisture levels and ought to be located in proximity to a humidifier or on a dish of water-containing stones.

Bonsai Gardening
Outdoor Bonsai –

Outdoor bonsai trees are typically selected from solid species that withstand various temperatures and environments, such as Juniper, Pine, and Maple. To flourish, outdoor bonsai trees require direct sunlight for several hours daily. Since outdoor environments usually provide sufficient humidity for bonsai trees, misting is unnecessary. 

Outdoor bonsai trees can withstand a broader temperature range than their indoor counterparts but may need protection in extreme temperatures. Although outdoor bonsai trees need watering less frequently than indoor ones, they still must be inspected regularly for moisture. Water should be applied deeply and thoroughly, but watering should be avoided during high humidity or rainfall periods.

Size of bonsai tree

There are three sizes of bonsai trees that range from under 5 inches to 30 inches tall. The bonsai needs all parts of the tree to be in proportion to appear as a mature tree. When choosing a plant for bonsai, it should have beautiful bark, a mature-looking trunk with girth and taper, and small leaves for a natural, unaffected appearance.

Bonsai Gardening
Size of bonsai tree –

Bonsai style

There are 15 to 20 distinct styles of bonsai trees. Each of them is defined by its form and the extent to which the trunk deviates from its imaginary axis. The most well-known styles include formal upright, informal upright, slanting, cascade, and semi-cascade. Here are some of them:

Upright Formal (Chokkan)

Beginners can easily grow a formal upright bonsai tree because it mimics natural tree growth. This style requires a straight trunk that tapers naturally from bottom to top. Larches, junipers, pines, and spruces are best for formal upright training due to their tapered shape.

Windswept (Fukinagashi)

The windswept bonsai appears to have grown in a windy environment because all its living branches point in the same direction. When done right, windswept bonsai trees look like they’re still being battered. Windswept bonsai trees include upright, slanting, and semi-cascade styles.

A bonsai may have multiple styling categories due to its techniques. Windswept trees are best conifers. Deciduous trees’ leaves face all directions, making convincing effects harder.

Bonsai Gardening
Bonsai style 1 –

Slanting (Shakkan)

The slanting style of bonsai has a more acute angle in the trunk than the informal upright style, which is due to their natural slant when young. Despite appearing to be unstable, these trees have strong roots that support their weight. The apex of a slanting bonsai is not directly above the base, distinguishing it from the informal upright style.

Informal Upright (Moyogi)

Because it teaches more about bonsai design, the informal upright style is best for beginners. Trees bend or grow in response to their environment. They may face the sun or wind. In an imperfect environment, a tree trunk curves naturally.

In the informal upright design, the tree’s apex is often directly over its base, giving it an upright appearance. Maples are the most popular sturdy plant species for this training style.

Bonsai Gardening
Bonsai style 3 –

Cascade (Kengai)

The cascade bonsai style resembles a cliff-hanging old tree. This style extends the tree’s growing tip below the container. Cascade bonsai appear to be fighting gravity or seeking sunlight. Cascade and semi-cascade bonsai are similar. The tree grows over the container rim but not below it. Cascade training works for many plants that aren’t strong upright. Juniper is a popular cascade/semi-cascade trainer.

Forest (Yose-ue)

In forest-style bonsai plantings, a number of trees of the same species are grown in a single pot. According to Japanese tradition, trees are always planted in odd-numbered groups as it is believed to replicate nature’s randomness. Even though the bonsai forest is intended to be viewed from the outside, the style aims to create the illusion of being inside an actual forest.

Bonsai Gardening
Bonsai style 2 –

Seki-Joju (Growing-on-Rock)

Consider a rocky mountain face and the tough trees that make their home in the cracks and holes between the rocks. That is what this style aspires to be. The tree is planted on a rock, with roots that extend over the rock and into the soil below.


Bonsai gardening requires a lot of information, but even experienced practitioners don’t consider themselves experts. The art involves recognizing that learning is ongoing and the journey toward mastery is never complete. 

The Japanese word “Shokunin” perfectly captures the idea of a craftsman on a quest to master their chosen art, emphasizing that it’s a process rather than an end goal. Share your progress and ask questions as you embark on your own quest for mastery in bonsai gardening.

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Guide of Plants –


How do you make a bonsai garden?

To make a bonsai garden, you’ll need to create a suitable growing environment for your bonsai trees. This can involve selecting the right soil mix, potting containers, fertilizers, and pruning tools. You’ll also need to choose the right species of tree for your garden, and plan out the layout and design of your garden space.

What is a bonsai garden?

A bonsai garden is a space dedicated to growing and cultivating bonsai trees. These gardens can be indoors or outdoors, and may feature a range of different bonsai trees arranged in a variety of styles and designs.

Can you grow a bonsai tree at home?

Yes, you can definitely grow a bonsai tree at home! Bonsai trees are well-suited for container growing and can thrive indoors or outdoors, depending on the species and your local climate.

What is the method of bonsai plant?

Bonsai plant cultivation involves a range of techniques, including pruning, wiring, and shaping. These techniques are used to train the tree’s growth and create the desired shape and form. Bonsai cultivation also involves careful attention to watering, fertilizing, and soil management, to ensure the tree’s health and vitality.

What is the benefit of bonsai?

Bonsai cultivation offers a range of benefits, including stress reduction, improved focus and concentration, and a sense of mindfulness and relaxation. Bonsai gardening also provides a creative outlet and a way to connect with nature, as well as an opportunity to learn about plant care and cultivation.

Why is it called bonsai tree?

The term “bonsai” comes from the Japanese words “bon,” meaning tray or pot, and “sai,” meaning plant. Together, these words describe the art of growing trees in small containers and shaping them to create miniature versions of full-sized trees.

Which tree is best for bonsai?

There are many different tree species that can be used for bonsai cultivation, including junipers, pines, maples, and ficus. The best tree for bonsai will depend on your local climate, your skill level as a gardener, and your personal preferences in terms of tree size, shape, and style.

Is a bonsai a tree or a plant?

A bonsai is a type of tree that has been trained and cultivated to grow in a small container, typically in a miniature or dwarf form. So while it is a tree, it is also a type of plant that has been carefully managed and shaped to fit within a small space.

How fast do bonsai trees grow?

The growth rate of bonsai trees will vary depending on the species and the conditions in which they are grown. Some species may grow very slowly, while others may grow more quickly. In general, however, bonsai trees tend to grow more slowly than full-sized trees, as they are cultivated to stay smaller and more compact.

What is the easiest plant to bonsai?

The easiest plant to bonsai will depend on your level of experience and the growing conditions in your area. However, some of the most beginner-friendly bonsai plants include the Chinese elm, ficus, and jade plant, which are all relatively forgiving and easy to care for.

Which is the luckiest bonsai tree?

In some cultures, certain bonsai trees are considered to be particularly lucky or auspicious. For example, the Fukien tea tree is often associated with good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture, while the Japanese five-needle pine is believed to bring longevity and good fortune.

Why is bonsai difficult?

Bonsai cultivation can be difficult for a number of reasons, including the need for careful attention to watering and soil management, as well as the need for regular pruning and shaping to maintain the tree’s form. Bonsai cultivation also requires a certain level of skill and knowledge in order to create a healthy and beautiful tree.

Is bonsai a cheap hobby?

Bonsai can be an affordable hobby if you start small and choose inexpensive plants and materials. However, the cost of bonsai cultivation can add up quickly if you invest in high-end tools and equipment, or if you start collecting rare or exotic bonsai species. Ultimately, the cost of bonsai cultivation will depend on your individual preferences and budget.

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