At its simplest level, a bonsai is a tiny tree. At the other end of the spectrum, bonsai is considered a work of art. However you see it, it’s impossible not to be swept up in bonsai’s miniature beauty. Caring for one is easier than you may think and it’s even said that tending to a bonsai can be a form of meditation. If you’re up for creating your own bonsai, we also have a great range of bonsai pots to choose from.
Bonsai and accessories
FShop the best bonsai tree at Flower Power
Bonsai can be considered anything from simply a tiny tree to an intricate work of art. It’s easy to get caught up in the miniature beauty of a bonsai tree and meditative qualities of tending to one, and you may find that one isn’t enough.
It’s easier to care for bonsai plants than you may think, so if you’re up to adopting your own bonsai tree or creating your own, come and explore our range of existing bonsai and bonsai starter kit and get advice on how to grow bonsai.
What is a bonsai tree?
Bonsai are trees and plants cultivated in containers in such a way to show off their best features. Cultivating bonsai is a very artistic hobby and, if you’re doing your own, is more involved than growing other potted plants.
In ancient times bonsai were usually enjoyed by aristocrats, priests, and other high-ranking people, but from around the seventeenth century, commoners began growing them, too. Today, growing bonsai is a hobby enjoyed by people in Japan and everywhere in the world.
All sorts of trees and shrubs are used as bonsai plants – essentially, any plant that can be grown in a little container can be cultivated as a bonsai.
The most popular varieties in Australia are:
- Japanese maple, a hardy deciduous tree that produces gorgeous autumn colours. It likes sunny spots, but not direct afternoon sun, and can handle minor frost. It’s fairly low maintenance, but requires frequent watering and annal leaf pruning.
- Port Jackson Fig is a great beginner bonsai tree. It’s relatively easy to care for needing just plenty of light and regular watering though it will tolerate occasional over, or underwatering.
- Indian laurel fig is tolerant of pruning mistakes and allows its trunk to be twisted for interesting bonsai shapes. It lives well indoors in bright, indirect light.
- Beech tree is great as a bonsai because it is slow growing, tolerates hearty pruning, and has small leaves that turn a beautiful colour in autumn. It likes bright, indirect light but will not do well in frost.
- Pomegranate trees are naturally pretty, with their silvery bark, bright green leaves and red blossoms, and the shallow root system makes it ideal for small pots. If well cared for, it might even bear fruit. It likes full sun and warm temperatures.
- Weeping fig, or Benjamin ficus, is another great beginner bonsai. It features small evergreen leaves on long branches that drape elegantly to the ground and recovers well from pruning mishaps. It will live happily indoor or outdoor in all-day sun, as long as soil is kept moist.
How to grow bonsai
You can grow your own bonsai plants from seeds, but if you’re new to bonsai you’re probably keen to get started right away. Save yourself five years, and come into Flower Power and pick up a bonsai starter kit .
If you want to control the shape of the tree, do it now before you repot. One way to do this is by pruning. You can encourage a tree to grow in a particular direction by pruning hard now and continuing to trim in this direction. How much you can prune without damaging your tree will depend on the species. Another shaping method is wiring; taking a length of stiff wire and gently but firmly bending and twisting the tree with the wire in the direction you want it to grow. This is easier on younger, more pliable trees, but be extremely careful not to damage or snap the trunk or branches. You can rewire the tree if it starts to escape as it grows.
When that’s done, you should move your bonsai starter into its new pot. You want one that’s small enough to constrain your tree’s growth, but deep enough that the roots are able to stabilise the tree.
Remove the tree from its old pot and carefully shake or tap away excess soil so you can see the roots clearly. Prune the roots to control their growth. Cut away the thickest and largest roots, leaving just the slender ones that will sit near the surface of the soil.
Put a base of fresh new Bonsai potting mix in the pot – the mix needs to drain well so your roots don’t sit in water. Position the tree in its new pot, wherever you want it to sit, and top up the pot with your potting mix, making sure to cover the roots. Pat it down firmly and cover with a layer of tiny pebbles if you like.
How to care for bonsai
Your little tree has just undergone a fairly traumatic process, so it will need extra care for a little while. For a few weeks, leave your tree somewhere it gets indirect light, away from direct sun, frost and wind. Keep it at a temperature that suits the species. Water it frequently and lightly, but don’t give it any fertiliser yet.
When its roots have established, you can move it to its forever location and give it occasional fertiliser – you can get bonsai specific options, but small doses of generic is usually fine. Water according to the variety’s requirements, and protect from frost and extreme heat. How to care for bonsai is very similar to caring for other plants.
Your bonsai may need to be repotted in a few years, watch for roots trying to escape as a sign.
Unlike other works of art, there is no such thing as a finished bonsai; you have to keep looking after them and developing them and in return they will be a constantly changing delight.
To begin your own bonsai journey, come into Flower Power and pick up your bonsai starter kit today.