The Basics of Bonsai

Bonsai is an ancient art form that comes out of Japan. However, its very first origins can be traced back to China. The popularity of bonsai in the United States began during the World War II era. The term Bonsai refers specifically to the type of container the trees are grown in, a small tray or dish. The art of bonsai is practiced with the intent of invoking meditation for the viewer and serenity and skill in cultivation for the grower.


Bonsai masters craft trees that are miniature versions of their counterparts.

Contrary to popular belief, bonsai trees are not a special genetically dwarfed tree. The size and shape of a bonsai tree is achieved by pruning new growth and binding the roots in a small container. Almost any woody tree can be used and cultivated as bonsai. Junipers, Ficus, Japanese Maple and Cypress trees are all very popular as bonsai, however, many other species and varieties are used as well.

Indoor and Outdoor

It should be noted that traditional bonsai trees in Japan are always grown outside. These trees mimic the needs of their larger counterparts and cannot be sustained indoors. However, there are many tropical species that can be grown as bonsai indoors. There are also cultivars available that have been crafted specifically for indoor growth. You can display traditional bonsai outdoors as long as temperatures remain above 40 degrees at night. When temperatures dip below 40 degrees bonsai can be maintained indoors in a south facing window or with grow lights. Bonsai also require considerable amounts of humidity and should be placed near a tray with pebbles and water.

The End Result

The goal of bonsai is to craft beautiful trees that are miniature copies of the trees found in nature. Shape and form are essential to mastering a beautiful bonsai. Bonsai trees can be started from seedlings or cuttings. Each year, at several intervals throughout the growing season new growth should be pruned back by hand to create the desired shape and amount of foliage. There are several different methods and techniques of pruning to get the desired results. It may take some trial and error to discover how your tree responds to the various methods of pruning. Bonsai also require root pruning. This should be done in the summer and only up to a quarter of the plants roots should be removed. The ultimate desire is a proportional, aged looking specimen. When well taken care of bonsai trees can grow to be very old.

Bonsai trees produce a serene environment that is conducive to concentration and contemplation. Their stress relieving capabilities and attractive appearance make them ideal plants for office desks, reception areas and coffee tables.

For Interior Landscaping

As an interior landscaper you may not have the time to practice the art of bonsai for each client that desires a bonsai tree. However, you can use miniature and dwarf varieties to create a similar result. These trees will not require the intense pruning and care that a bonsai demands.

You can pair bonsai trees with indoor zen gardens and orchids to create a contemplative, stress relieving and beautiful environment. These unified arrangements can be especially effective in office environments.

Have you considered using bonsai or other miniature trees in your interior landscaping?

“How to Take Proper Care of Your Indoor Bonsai Tree.” Bonsai Boy of NewYork. <>
Bonsai Made Easy. <>
“Bonsai” Wikipedia. <>
Image: “Bonsai-Expo-Enghein” by bDom-artiste

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