Bonsai Plant Care
Bonsai Plant Care

Bonsai, pronounced “bone-sigh” (singular and plural) are dwarfed plants or trees grown in shallow pots or trays. The Japanese developed the art of Bonsai many hundreds of years ago. They tried to capture the beauty of oddly dwarfed trees that managed to grow under the most adverse conditions. Today, the beauty of these trees can be replicated indoors by pruning the roots and top growth, restricting the pot size and shaping the plant by wiring it. Plants used for Bonsai vary from traditional trees such as junipers and cypresses to flowering and fruiting shrubs and trees such as azaleas and camellias to tropical plants such as jade and ficus. With a little special care, The Bonsai can bring a little taste of the Orient into your home.

The basic care requirements are as follows:

1) Light – an unobstructed west, east or south window is preferred, south being the best in the winter. Grow lights can also be used successfully with Bonsai.

2) Water and Fertilizer – the small pots require regular watering, typically once a day. The frequent watering depletes nutrients quickly so fertilizing is recommended (at half strength) monthly.

3) Temperature – average house temperatures of 68-72 degrees are fine, although plants typically like nights to drop 10-15 degrees below the average daytime temperature. Placing the plant between the window and curtain usually satisfies this requirement. Some trees need a dormant cold period during the winter and can weather outdoors for 2 – 3 months in a protected spot.

4) Humidity – to increase humidity indoors, group plants together, and mist daily. You can also use a room humidifier or place plants on a tray of moistened pebbles.

To learn more about growing Bonsai, you may want to read the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s excellent handbook entitled Bonsai for Indoors.