How NOT to Kill Your Bonsai Tree

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Basic steps on how to care for a bonsai tree, as well as the benefits of owning this type of plant.

Owning a bonsai tree reveals that you are classy, elegant, intricate, and intelligent . . . until you kill it. Caring for these plants can sometimes be tricky, as they need a balance between the elements of sun, water, food, and care. However, the addition of bonsai plants to your home can bring a Zen-like sense of peace and harmony.

The art of bonsai can grow to be a peaceful and rewarding hobby for many. Some people even find spiritual benefits in the cultivation of the plant, as it emphasizes balance, care, and devotion. It differs from traditional gardening as it requires a more artistic touch to shape the plant into an aesthetically-appealing form.

The word ‘bonsai’ actually refers to a method of growing; it literally translates to ‘tray growing.’ This technique of growing an adult tree in a miniature or dwarfed form was made popular in Japan by Buddhist monks. The trees can actually live for hundreds of years if properly cared for.

Here are the main elements in caring for your indoor bonsai tree:

• Sun

- Keep in a moderately-lit area at a minimum of 60 degrees.

- Too much or too little sunlight can damage the plant. Shoot for several hours of sunlight per day.

  • Moisture
  • Spray the leaves often, but don’t keep roots in standing water, as this can cause rotting.
  • Keep the soil moist, so keep away from fireplaces and ovens, which can dry the soil excessively.
  • Feel the soil gently with your finger or insert a toothpick into the soil to gauge the moisture level of the plant.
  • Food
  • Fertilize every two months during the spring, summer, and fall with half-strength fertilizer.
  • Maintenance
  • Repot in the spring every year or two. Make sure the new pot is a similar style: shallow with drainage holes in the bottom.
  • At this time, also trim 1/3 of the roots and pinch the leaves to your desired shape. There are special tools available for trimming your bonsai tree.
  • If you notice a change in the leaf color or a powdery mildew, your tree may be diseased. Try repotting or consult a professional.

There are many different varieties of bonsai plants, including jade, cypress, juniper, ficus, and flowering types. Each species needs a different type of care, so spend some time researching your particular type of plant for optimum results.

Properly caring for your bonsai tree can bring years harmony and life to your home, as well as a beautiful, natural centerpiece.


Posted on Jun 30, 2010
Posted on Oct 18, 2009