How to keep bonsai tree small

How To Keep Bonsai Tree Leaves Small

The Art Of Tiny Leaves

One of the joys of working with bonsai trees is that the hobby truly is an art form. Anyone who has worked extensively with bonsai knows that the cultivation, shaping, and care of these special plants take an extreme amount of patience, knowledge, and an eye for artfulness.

Most people know that the purpose of a bonsai tree is that the beauty of a fully-grown, aged tree is mimicked in miniature. Not only is the trunk of the tree miniaturized by specific selection, planting and pruning techniques, but so are the leaves. Without a process to encourage the growth of miniature leaves, then the bonsai tree would appear to be off-balance, and the scale of the leaves in comparison to the overall plant would completely ruin the artful effect of realism.

Many wonder how to keep bonsai tree leaves small. There are several techniques that the bonsai artist can implement that will hopefully result in a balanced bonsai specimen with the tiny leaves that are so prized. As with most things, nature is not perfect. It can be erratic. What will work for one tree may or may not work for another. However, by implementing methods that have been tried and true among bonsai enthusiasts for centuries, you dramatically increase the chances of producing, in time, the miniature leaves that are so prized among bonsai aficionados.

Have you ever wondered how bonsai growers make bonsai tree leaves smaller? I have always been amazed of bonsais and even more amazed at the exceptional talent and patience that people who make bonsais have. How were they able to make a full –grown tree, aged try in miniature form? Did they use some kind of chemical formula perhaps or a special cutting and pruning technique?

As I learned more about bonsais over the years and have successfully created a few projects myself, I found out that there was no magic at all. All it takes is careful planning and a lot of patience to finally achieve the desired balance in a bonsai tree.

Read More: How To Care For A Sick Bonsai Tree

I also found out that techniques to make bonsai leaves smaller may not hold true for all tree varieties. Each tree has its own characteristics and needs. This means that creating bonsais is a continuous process.  And you will gradually increase your knowledge and enhance your skills in making smaller bonsai leaves over time.

What you need to follow this tutorial
  • Bonsai tree
    • Prefer trees with naturally smaller leaves which are easier to manage and train compared to large-leafed varieties. There are many types of trees with small leaves so make sure to check out the growing characteristics of each tree before you choose one.
  • Growing light
    • You need a strong growing light that will provide your bonsai trees good indoor lighting. Choose a light with strong wattage and a model that conforms to safety requirements.
  • A pair of cutting scissors
    • You need a sharp and handy pair of cutting scissors to cut leaves from the tree to defoliate it. You will also use a pair of cutting scissors to prune and to cut tree bark.
  • Ethyl alcohol
    • Ethyl alcohol will sterilize your clean cutting scissors so you can cut and defoliate your bonsai tree without introducing bacteria that cause plant disease to your bonsai. Use a strong brand. Ethyl alcohol is available to purchase online or from a local distributor or retailer in your area.

Step by step instructions

1) Use only tree varieties with small leaves

The first tip is basically common sense: use tree varieties with very small leaves. Not all trees have large fan leaves; there are actually trees with minute leaves or even fine leaves and stems which make great bonsai trees. Trees that have small leaves are Linden, Elm, Ash, Oak, and Willow trees. These trees will grow very small leaves even when left growing in normal circumstances in the wild.

When these small-leaf trees become bonsai, these will develop even smaller leaves which mean these still have the capacity to grow even smaller and daintier leaves, stems and branches. And as these perfect specimens make bonsai growing hobbies a lot easier, there are still growers and hobbyists who challenge themselves in growing large-leafed trees. Just some of the most common large-leafed varieties include Sycamore and Magnolia trees. There are even some experienced growers who made a bonsai palm tree or coconut tree just for the fun of it.

2) Place bonsai trees in bright lights

Bonsai plants are like any other plants; it naturally seeks light to grow. If there is insufficient lighting, a bonsai will develop large leaves and more foliage just to get more light. Bonsai plants may even become leggier, again, just to get more light to support its growth and development.

Read More: How To Care and Techniques For Bonsai Trees

Therefore, if you want smaller leaves, you must give your plants more light. Place it under direct sunlight or natural light. Your plant will naturally preserve its resources by not expanding leaf area when it is exposed to more light. Your bonsai tree will have smaller leaves that will grow in compact clusters.

If you live in an area where there is less sunlight or natural light in a day, you might want to use a growing light or lamp to get the best results. Lamps come in a variety of designs and wattage. Make sure to purchase a safe growing light with ample wattage to provide your growing bonsai good indoor lighting.

3) Make sure to defoliate your bonsai during springtime

If you have bonsai trees that lose their leaves on a regular seasonal basis like the Chinese Elm or Ficus then you can defoliate your plants during spring to get smaller leaf growth. However, take this as the last resort.

Defoliation is removing some of the leaves of the plants to allow it to recover and grow new leaves. It is very important to find out if the bonsai tree that you wish to grow can withstand defoliation. This is a good method for deciduous plants because these lose their leaves on a seasonal basis. Do not defoliate bonsai conifer trees because these will never be able to recover.

Read More: How To Shape Your Bonsai Tree

Requirements of plants that may be subjected to defoliation

  • The bonsai should be a deciduous tree
  • The bonsai should be well planted or well established
  • The bonsai tree should be healthy, must have regular new leaf growths
  • The bonsai tree should be free from pests, insects and any diseases
  • The bonsai tree should not have discolored leaves
  • Defoliation should only be done mid-spring to allow the tree to recover and develop a new set of leaves.
  • Defoliate only once a year.

Take note that defoliation is shocking to a plant and therefore it should be done carefully and only to a healthy plant. Removing the first leaves of the spring season should be done early so it still has time to grow healthy new and healthy leaves. You can also partially defoliate which simply means you will only remove some of the leaves of the tree. This is a much safer route for people new to defoliating and growing bonsai.

  • Clean your cutting scissors with soap and water. Make sure that this is free from dust, dirt and any oils. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth.
  • Sterilize your cutting scissors in alcohol. Dip it in ethyl alcohol just before you use it.
  • Choose an area where defoliation will be done. If you want to totally defoliate, divide the leaves into sections. Defoliate one section at a time. If you want to partially defoliate, choose the area that you will cut.
  • Remove the leaf right at the base using the sterile scissors. Leave the petiole or the stem of the leaf attached to the branch.
  • Allow the stem to fall off the tree naturally because this will soon dry up and do so.

Over time, correctly and regularly defoliating your bonsai will result in the development of smaller leaves. You will soon have leaves that will are two-thirds smaller than the leaves of full-sized regular leaves.


When you combine these techniques with correct bonsai planting strategies and choosing the best specimen, you will soon be able to create the perfect bonsai with the best miniature leaf size that all bonsai lovers know and love. Techniques to create smaller leaves may not hold true for all tree species so be sure to get to know the particular tree variety you want to grow before you start turning it into a bonsai tree.


How To Keep Bonsai Leaves Small

Bonsai tree leaves aren't known to be particularly large, especially when compared to other houseplants. However, if you prefer to keep the leaves on the smaller side, there are ways to do it. We have researched the best ways to keep the leaves small, and in this post, we will go over them.

Here are a couple of techniques that you can use to keep your bonsai leaves small:

Method 1. Place the tree under bright lighting. Method 2. Defoliate the bonsai during the spring.

You may be surprised to know that bonsai tree leaves can develop into even smaller leaves with the proper maintenance plan. Keep in mind that initially, it will take a very diligent effort to ensure that the leaves remain small. Continue reading to learn about the different methods you can use to limit the size of your bonsai tree leaves as well as its overall height.

Two Methods to Keep Your Bonsai Tree Leaves Small

First, know that it helps to choose a bonsai tree variety that has small leaves already. Not all bonsai trees will have large leaves, and some will even have very fine leaves and stems, which can make your job even easier if you're looking to minimize them.

1. Place the tree under bright lighting

Similar to other types of plants, bonsai trees need light to grow. However, if the plant has insufficient lighting, the leaves will become larger to get more light. For example, you may notice that your tree will become leggier if you expose it to low light conditions for a week or more. So, to grow smaller leaves, it's best to give the plant more light.

To do this, place your bonsai under direct light or any natural light source for several hours throughout the day. When this happens, the bonsai will naturally preserve resources, which means that it won't expand its leaves when exposed to additional light.

Do this for a few weeks, and you'll notice that your bonsai tree will not only have small leaves, but they'll grow and very compact clusters. 

If you have trouble accessing natural light in your home, consider purchasing a lamp or growing light. When choosing a growing light, note the wattage and make sure that it is suitable enough to support the size of your bonsai tree. The typical bonsai tree can take a lightbulb of about 30 to 60 watts.

Check out this indoor growing light on Amazon.

2. Defoliate the bonsai during the spring

If your bonsai tree loses its leaves regularly, it's best to defoliate the tree during the springtime. This will help you get a smaller leaf growth, and it'll also decrease the size of the branches and stems.

Before choosing this method, it's best to confirm that your specific bonsai variety can withstand the defoliation process. Defoliation involves removing the leaves from the plant so that it can recover and grow new leaves.

That being stated, some bonsai trees do not take well to this process and may suffer from plant shock. And turn, the plant may not be able to recover and may die. When using this method, be sure not to remove more than a third of the plant's leaves, as it could cause the plant to fall into a state of ill health. 

How do you stop bonsai trees from growing taller?

Every bonsai tree will have its characteristics and individual needs. But if you want to keep your bonsai tree on the shorter side, there are ways that you can prevent it from growing taller. It all comes down to three things: lighting, pruning, and potting. We've discussed lighting. Now let's discuss the effects of pruning and re-potting.

Pruning the tree

Pruning your bonsai tree will help keep it short, and it'll also encourage the foliage to grow denser than before. If you want to produce a miniature canopy effect, a combination of maintenance and structural pruning can make it happen.

Maintenance Pruning

Maintenance pruning your bonsai involves trimming off small branches and sticks to maintain the particular shape of the tree. For the most part, the new growth on the tree will concentrate near the top of the bonsai. So when you cut these pieces, it forces the tree to produce denser and smaller leaves and branches near the base.

However, it is advisable to use branch or twig cutting shears on your tree as they are sensitive to the pruning process. You can also pinch the bonsai at the stem with your fingers instead of using shears altogether.

When it comes to bonsai trees, this method is preferred by many arborists. The best time to trim your tree is anywhere from the early spring to the late fall, as this is when the tree grows the most.

Find these plant shears on Amazon.

Structural Pruning

Structural pruning involves cutting off any thick branches on the tree. It's this type of cutting that will help guide the overall shape of the tree over time. Every bonsai tree is different, but it's best to do it right after or right before the tree's growing season when it comes to structural pruning.

Here are a few tips to remember when performing a structural trim on your bonsai plant. Note that structural pruning can be very stressful on the bonsai, and you don't want to cause it to go into a state of stress while trying to change its size.

  • Take off any branches that are growing too thick on the top of the plant
  • Trim away any branches that are growing parallel to the trunk
  • If any branches are crossing other branches, trim them down

Potting the bonsai

Potting and root care are essential parts of keeping a bonsai tree small. Essentially, the roots are the engine of the tree. Just like any other tree, the roots are the most important part of a bonsai tree. The more nutrients they can absorb, the faster they will grow.

Keeping the plant potbound is best to limit its growth. Strategic cutting and potting will help you restrict the plant's growth and limit the nutrients and water that it receives.

Here's how to pot your bonsai tree to keep it small. (Note: Also, if your tree needs defoliation, it's best to do this a couple of weeks ahead of re-potting the tree.)

  1. Push the tree out of the pot by pushing your finger through the drainage hole. Remember that the root growth should be dense enough to where the tree pops out with little effort.
  2. Use your fingers to brush away any dirt from the roots, and then spritz them with a bit of water to keep them moist.
  3. Use your cutting shears to carefully trim the roots to a radial shape. And be sure to cut away any stems or branches that are growing across other branches or outside the tree's new shape.
  4. To re-pot the plant, fill the pot with fresh soil and place the tree inside. Afterward, cover the roots completely with additional soil.
  5. Next, place the tree in a sunny location.

Where do you cut bonsai leaves?

It depends on the type of cut that you're doing. For example, if you're doing a general maintenance cut, then you'll only cut back the twigs so that they have 3-4 nodes. A node is a joint that the tree's leaves grow out of.

So, if your tree's branches have 6-8 nodes, cut the branches down so that they only have 3 or 4 remaining. Not only will this encourage new growth, but it'll also keep the bonsai from growing too large.

However, if you're doing a structural cut to shape the tree, you'll want to thin out the canopy and crown of the plant. This will allow sunlight to filter through the top of the canopy to reach the lower branches. And it'll keep the canopy from becoming too large to where it overshadows the bottom portion of a tree.

Should you remove dead leaves from your bonsai?

Yes, dead leaves can take up energy and drain your plant. It's always best to cut them off when pruning the plant or after spotting them randomly.

How do you reduce the leaf size of a bonsai tree?

The easiest way to reduce the leaf size of the tree is to expose it to direct light daily, keep it rootbound, and strategically prune it by removing large branches and leaves.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope this post has helped illustrate how to keep bonsai tree leaves small. As you can see, making the leaves smaller comes down to establishing a strategic maintenance plan that includes lighting changes and maintenance.

Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other posts:

What's The Best Pot For Bonsai Trees? [Inc. 11 Perfect Examples]

How Fast Do Bonsai Trees Grow?

Golden rules for growing indoor bonsai. Photo - Botanichka

Bonsai cannot be called just indoor or garden plants. These are objects of art, living sculptures, the embodiment of a whole philosophy, which are not measured by the same standards as ordinary plants and even the rarest collectible crops. The approach to growing bonsai should also be special. After all, these plants require completely non-standard handling. They not only embody philosophy, but also demand dedication and peace from their owners. Bonsai care is not easy, but the pleasure is very special.

Bonsai. © Claire Vannette

The Art of Bonsai

Bonsai plants are not for everyone. They open up a new philosophy for their owners and reveal the essence of Eastern worldviews, and most importantly, they make you take a fresh look at communication with wildlife and the relationship between man and plants. To purchase a bonsai, you need not just decide, but weigh all the pros and cons. After all, they are not suitable for those flower growers who are often on the road or love simple care. Bonsai need to be dealt with constantly, sometimes for proper care you have to look for a creative approach, and some procedures are very specific. With such a pet, you will have to give up haste and fuss. And when they say that for bonsai you need to grow spiritually yourself, they do not exaggerate at all. But if you were given even a small bonsai or you, succumbing to a temporary impulse, became its owner almost by accident, most likely the plants will open up a whole new world for you and make you love yourself with all your heart and forever.

Bonsai is not only the art of creating a miniature copy of nature, using age-old traditions of the special formation of trees and bushes, but also a special art of caring for plants. It is simply impossible to treat bonsai in the same way as with any other houseplant. Not only will you not succeed, but you will also nullify many years of work with your traditional appeal to him. Bonsai differ among themselves in the complexity of the required care and in fact need an individual approach no less than any other indoor culture. But personalized care is the only thing that bonsai cultivation has in common with conventional indoor floriculture.

Olive bonsai and testudinaria are rightfully considered the most unassuming and easy to grow. Difficult care with the ability to grow plants in ordinary living rooms will require a tea tree and elms. The rest of the plants - carmona, euonymus, podocarp, ficuses, ligustrum, etc. - need a mandatory place in the open air in the warm season.

When purchasing a bonsai, be prepared for the fact that you have to learn a lot. Most care procedures require special skills, training, listening to the inner voice. With bonsai, you need to trust your intuition - and constantly explore the world of this amazing art. If you want to succeed, educate yourself more often, attend master classes, do not hesitate to ask experts.

Bonsai. © Cindy Black

Comfortable conditions and the need for fresh air

We can only talk about some conditions that are comfortable for all bonsai. After all, each type of tree and shrub used to create bonsai partially retains its individual preferences. The most comfortable for these living works of art is the average, restrained temperature of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius during the active growth phase. Almost all bonsai need cooler maintenance in winter. If you keep the usual room temperatures and do not lower their value by at least 2-3 degrees, reducing the light will lead to problems with their health. The minimum temperature is limited to 10 degrees for conifers and 12-14 degrees for other types of bonsai.

Lighting for these plants is selected purely individually. Most bonsai thrive in diffused bright light, but the ability to grow in a sunny place or in partial shade is worth checking for each plant separately. In winter, bonsai of any kind will not refuse bright lighting, and if you compensate for the conditions of seasonal features, you can achieve amazing results.

Among bonsai, there are many varieties that are sold mainly as purely indoor plants. But still, most of these living art objects prefer fresh air and are much less comfortable indoors. Noble and expensive plants in the warm season will only gratefully respond to placement on a balcony, terrace or in a recreation area - where they can “breathe” enough. When buying a bonsai, be sure to check whether the plant is accustomed to such a summer regime and how it relates to ventilation and drafts. But for most bonsai, you still need to select protected places and more stable conditions.

Irrigation and air humidity

The vast majority of trees used to produce bonsai are sensitive to air humidity. It will be very difficult to maintain the attractiveness of the forms and greenery of these plants without measures to increase air humidity. Installing special humidifiers is ideal, but you can increase the humidity of the air by placing water bowls and spraying (tolerance to the latter should be checked for each plant species separately).

Irrigation for bonsai requires much more effort than for ordinary plants. The flat shape of the containers dictates a schedule for more frequent treatments. There are no general requirements for watering and their frequency in bonsai plants, but it is important to never forget about one rule: drying out of the roots for bonsai should not be allowed in any case. Drought is detrimental to these valuable plants. But acidification of the soil is unacceptable. Stable light to medium humidity are conditions that most bonsai will thrive in. For the cold season, watering is reduced (for deciduous bonsai, it is made minimal, and for evergreens, the moisture content of the substrate is halved), still preventing the substrate from completely drying out.

Bonsai are most often watered using the classic "top" method. But there is one “but”: such plants prefer watering with a spray nozzle. It is necessary to resort to dispersion of water in order for the water to be distributed more evenly over a wide container. An alternative watering method is to submerge the container with a larger container of water to saturate the substrate, followed by complete drainage of the "free" water.

Bonsai Watering

Bonsai Feeding

Feeding schedule should be specified when buying a plant. The classical scheme is considered to be the application of fertilizers only during the stage of active vegetation with a frequency of 1 time in 2 weeks. In the middle of summer, you can make a "pass" to stop the growth of shoots and improve lignification. Top dressing does not stop in winter (only for evergreen bonsai), but fertilizers are applied at a frequency of 1 time in 6 weeks and halving the usual dosage.

Special fertilizers are selected for bonsai (they are produced both by companies specialized in this art and by the best well-known manufacturers of fertilizers with a wide range of preparations).

Bonsai Pruning and Shaping

While regular pruning and shaping is rarely considered essential for most houseplants, for bonsai pruning is vital to maintaining attractiveness. In order for a living work of art to remain such, it is necessary to periodically shorten the branches, remove unnecessary shoots, pinch and other shaping. Each type of bonsai has its own pruning requirements, but in general the pruning strategy is directly related to the rate of growth. Slow-growing plants are gently cleaned once or twice a year to keep them in shape. Fast-growing ones need to be controlled and shaped much more often, every few weeks, from spring to autumn.

Bonsai pruning rules are very simple. In such plants, as a rule, they try to leave only up to 6 pairs of leaves on each shoot, ruthlessly removing everything superfluous. The upper part of the bonsai is always cut more strongly, not forgetting, as with any other houseplant, to remove all damaged, dry, growing down or inward, overly extended branches. For bonsai, it is important to thin out the leaves that grow too densely in a timely manner. But just trimming is obtained only in words. Miniature plants require such a special approach to themselves, they are so difficult to prune that considerable skill and imagination are needed here. And it is much easier to make mistakes than to succeed. For the first time, it is better to contact a specialist and visit a master class, find out all the necessary information in specialized centers. Only after gaining skills and mastering the technique, decide to start pruning.

The formation of shoots and trunks, giving them "artificial" curvatures and directions is a complex and extraordinary task. For bonsai, the formation is carried out thanks to the wire (use anodized copper or aluminum, always thick wire). With its help, they fix the turns of the trunk or branches, give them a shape, direction and angles. The formation is carried out by winding the wire from the bottom up, literally rewinding the trunk and branches with it, and then directing their growth. But finding a balance between sufficient compression and non-injury is very difficult. Yes, and you need to remove the wire in a timely manner: after the plant "goes" in a given direction, but not before the film begins to grow into the bark.

Disinfected sharp instruments should be used when working with bonsai. For the treatment of wounds, it is advisable to purchase a special wound balm. A set of special tools suitable for each type of pruning and specific bonsai work can be found today in flower shops and specialized resources. Miniature loppers and scissors of various shapes, brushes and miniature tweezers, pitchforks and tweezers help to perform almost jewelry work. If special tools are not available, try using new and sanitized manicure tools.

On sale you can also find special products for artificial aging, decoration, changing the color of the bark, etc. With their help, they enhance the attractiveness of the plant and achieve greater expressiveness.

Bonsai top dressing. © Jonas Dupuich

Transplanting, containers and substrate

Bonsai are grown in special flat bowls, the depth of which is many times less than the width. When choosing, you need to pay attention to the fact that the volume of the container must exceed the volume of the roots, and in the most often there must be at least one hole for the outflow of water. There is not very much soil in such a bowl, especially since a large percentage of the free space in the tank is occupied by drainage and mulch. And accordingly, bonsai have to be transplanted much more often than we would like - 1 time in 2-3 years.

Bonsai, like all indoor trees and shrubs, is best transplanted at the beginning of the active growth stage - in the spring. But there are certain types of plants, for example, large-leaved podocarp, which prefers transplantation not in spring, but in autumn. Please check all information carefully before purchasing.

Proper substrate selection is critical for these plants. For bonsai, a special purchased substrate with a permeable structure, a high content of clay and sand is used. It is difficult to independently check the water permeability and air conductivity of the soil, so we recommend using special soil for bonsai.

Just as the above-ground part of the plants was formed in a special way, its rhizome is completely amazingly formed, which is restrained and cut off. When transplanting, the roots are usually shortened to prevent overgrowth and free up space in a small container. Pruning the rhizome optimizes nutrient absorption and thickens the crown. A layer of large drainage must be laid at the bottom of the tank. The substrate is completely replaced with new and fresh, and the plant is carefully strengthened by lightly pressing it into the soil and using stones or pebbles to stabilize it if necessary.

Bonsai are almost never grown with "bare" soil. For these plants, the method of decorative mulching is actively used: the substrate is covered with pebbles, stone chips, sphagnum or other decorative materials. Such a coating is selected so as to achieve the greatest decorative effect and expressiveness.

Preparing for transplantation

Prophylaxis is indispensable

Healthy, with an ideal shape, able to bloom or pleasing with luxurious leaves, the bonsai, as we see it in stores and bring home, needs constant prophylaxis. Preventing both diseases and the spread of pests is much easier than dealing with them on these special plants. Reduces the risk of damage to bonsai by using only disinfected tools, maintaining comfortable temperatures and lighting, and controlling air humidity. Watering and fertilizing should not be excessive or scarce, and plants that prefer fresh air should receive it as much as possible. But the key to success is regular follow-up. Leaves and branches should be monitored, checked for signs of unwanted problems, damaged and diseased leaves and shoots should be removed immediately, and the condition of the roots should be checked.

Good question: How to grow a bonsai at home

Growing a bonsai at home is a challenge for the patient: some varieties require up to ten years of care before you can appreciate the result. But this is an ideal eco-leisure for the ever-busy resident of the metropolis and an inspiring example of how small steps can lead to big results.

Jesse Im/bugonmyleaf

Care for bonsai at home is it even possible?
To begin with, let's figure out what bonsai is (contrary to the stereotype, it is not at all a specific plant from the east). Speaking categorically, a bonsai is an ordinary tree that is systematically prevented from growing normally: they cut it, form a crown, set the direction for the branches.

Of course, ready-made bonsai in a pot can be bought in the store - no problem. But Buddhists say: a person who grows bonsai himself is equated with God, because the world is a garden of the Buddha. Why not try it?

Many varieties familiar to us are suitable for creating bonsai, and boxwoods (buxus) , myrtle (myrtus) , abutilons (abutilon) , leptospermums (leptospermum) , , give best results wisteria (wisteria) and ficus (ficus) . You can experiment with broad-leaved trees: beech (fagus) , hornbeam (carpinus) , maple (acer) , birch (betula) , elm (ulmus) , Japanese beech (fagus japonica) and pomegranate (punica) . Or grow bonsai from conifers: fir (abies) , cypress (cupressus) , spruce (picea) , cedar (cedrus) and pine (pinus) .

Dufner Heighes Inc

How to grow Bonsai from seed?
The first step is to find suitable planting material in a store or nursery (or even in the nearest park). Bonsai from seeds is the longest way: first you have to give life to an ordinary tree, and then turn it into an art object. To grow a bonsai from seeds, it will take at least 12-15 years to care for it.

How to plant seeds at home? Spruce, pine, beech, oak (quercus) , euonymus (euonymus) and fir are ready for sowing at the time of harvest (in our case, immediately after purchase). But hawthorn (crataegus) , juniper (juniperus) , maple, hornbeam, quince (cydonia oblonga) require rest before planting: they must be placed in wet sand and kept in a cool place (sometimes up to six months).

Samsel Architects

The difficult game of bonsai care begins. So, before planting, the seeds are placed for a day in water. Bonsai from seeds can also be germinated in sphagnum moss or vermiculite if you are a confident gardener. Now you need to sterilize the soil, and then treat the seeds with a fungicide - to protect against diseases. It is better to plant a tree that you want to grow in a peat glass, where peat and sand are mixed in equal proportions. Then lay a centimeter of sifted soil, press down the soil a little, lay out the seeds, sprinkle with sand again and water lightly.

Jesse Im/bugonmyleaf

A young plant needs a mini-greenhouse: cover the seedlings with polyethylene, put them in a cool place and keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Did you notice the sprouts? Congratulations, you have passed the first stage. Now, to grow bonsai from seeds, you need to give the sprouts fresh air. For example, make several holes in the film. When the first leaves appear on the tree, the film is removed completely. And when the tree reaches 10 centimeters, it is transplanted into an ordinary pot and gradually accustomed to the light.

In order to grow bonsai at home, it is important to study the characteristics of the variety with which you decide to deal. First of all, everything that concerns the soil: you need to transplant into a material that is most familiar to a tree in nature. Sometimes soil is experimented with in order to grow bonsai with certain characteristics from seeds. For example, if you transplant a pine into a “poorer” soil than ordinary soil, the needles of the tree will become smaller.

Daedal Woodworking

Bonsai young shoot: home care
You can grow a bonsai tree from a young shoot - this method is more convenient for a beginner. They are sold in a nursery - plants about 15 cm high are suitable for us. When choosing a young tree, pay attention to the crown: it is better if the plant has many branches to the ground. Then you can choose which branches to cut and leave. The second important factor is the root system: it must be well developed and without visible damage in order for the plant to take root well.

To grow a tree, it is first rooted in a deep container and only after a couple of years is transferred to a characteristic ceramic bowl - then they begin to form bonsai.

Sarah Greenman

The lower part of the trunk and part of the root system should be left on the surface. To slow down the growth of a tree - this is an important part of the care of a bonsai - they cut the roots. Ideally, as many horizontal roots as possible should remain. At a small height from the ground, the bonsai is tied with wire to make the trunk thicker. Sometimes cuts are left on the surface of the tree: the sap of the plant, healing wounds, leaves interesting sagging on the trunk. As soon as the tree reaches the desired thickness, you can proceed to the processing of the crown.

Sergey Harenko

Advice: The earlier you start shaping the bonsai, the more effective the mature tree will be. For some plants, this is especially critical - for example, for elms in a vertical style. In order to properly grow a tree, already in the first year you will have to cut out part of the roots and regularly trim the trunk.


Advanced level: growing bonsai from cuttings
Bonsai from cuttings at home is the choice for skilled gardeners. Advantages of the solution: you do not need to buy a tree or seeds in a store, but you can even take it on the street; in addition, you will gain a year compared to seedlings. To grow a bonsai from a cutting, elm, privet are suitable (ligustrum) , common hornbeam (carpinus betulus) , field maple (acer campestre) , barberry (berberis) and dwarf elm (ulmus minor) . But propagating cedars and pines in this way will not work.

So, you cut off a branch and stick it into the ground to root, and then cover it with a mini-greenhouse and monitor the soil moisture. Deciduous cuttings take root quickly - in just a couple of weeks. In conifers, this process sometimes takes six months. Fresh young leaves are a sign that the stalk has taken root. After a few months, it can be transplanted into a pot and begin to prepare for the role of bonsai.

Tip: conifers are best taken in early September or April, deciduous ones in June. Sometimes cuttings are treated with a phytohormone - it stimulates root growth.

Kaufman Segal Design

How to form a bonsai at home?
At first glance, caring for a bonsai and shaping a tree trunk is like learning a magical practice from scratch. How to make bonsai grow in the right direction and achieve a certain size? The main technique that forms bonsai is regular pruning of branches. It is important that the plants do not bloom at this moment. Young branches are cut at the level of one or two rosettes from the trunk. Soon young leaves will appear on the tree - smaller ones.

The second important tool that helps grow a bonsai tree is aluminum wire. Iron will not work: it is not flexible enough and quickly rusts. The wire should be about three times thinner than the bonsai branch. It is wrapped around the branches to set the desired direction of growth.

In the first formation, the wire is used on all branches, even the thinnest and most insignificant. Make sure the branches do not cross. In order not to damage the delicate bark of the tree, pieces of leather can be placed under the wire. Remove the wire after about three months (and do not unwind, but cut off). It is important to ensure that it does not grow into bonsai. This is especially critical when caring for trees with smooth bark: ugly traces of ingrown wire will be visible on the trunk even after a decade. Trees with rough bark tolerate these features of care better: juniper and pine scars grow much faster.

A nice trick for a mature tree, the trunk of which is already difficult to adjust with wire - to pull the branches down. For this, wire structures with weighting are used.

Japan Bonsai Garden Art

Care and watering: the subtleties of craftsmanship
The main thing to know is that bonsai are not watered from above. It is best to have a tray with high sides, fill it with expanded clay and pour it generously - and only then put a bonsai pot on top. The tree will take water as needed, and you will regularly top it up. An alternative method of care and watering is to dip the pot in a basin of water for a few seconds so that the soil is saturated with moisture.

Schmidt Holzinger Innenarchitekten

Small but expensive
How big can a home grown bonsai be? It depends on the characteristics of the original tree, but in general - from 8 to 130 cm.

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