Bonsai is an ancient tradition of growing miniature trees. People often think that growing a Bonsai tree is a specialist art and that it takes lots of time and expert knowledge. While this can be true for some cultivations, there are many that are easy-going and quite simple to care for. Beginner Bonsai trees are one of the most rewarding plants to have in your home.
Having a Bonsai tree indoors brings a part of nature into your life; being surrounded by nature helps reduce stress levels and boosts your mood. And you don’t need to spend a fortune either; there are some very affordable Bonsai trees.
Below I’ve listed my three top Bonsai trees for beginners, but first, a few words about care…
Caring for a Bonsai tree
Sunlight: Bonsai trees need a decent amount of sunlight to thrive so don’t just place your Bonsai tree anywhere in your home, first consider how much light the room receives. Is it a north facing room or south-facing room? Where in the room will you place the Bonsai tree, close to the window or further away? Most species of Bonsai require a bright room with a little direct sunlight, though it shouldn’t be in full sun all day as it could burn. I keep mine on a table a few feet away from a bright south-facing window. In the winter I bring it closer to the window, sometimes setting it on the windowsill for part of the day to give it extra sunlight.
Watering: This is a very important part of caring for Bonsai as they should never be allowed to dry out. Check your Bonsai every day to ensure the soil is kept moist. Water it thoroughly making sure the water drains out of the bottom; you want it well watered but be sure it is not left sitting in soggy soil as this could cause root rot. During summer, it may need to be watered twice a day, depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. In winter, it will require less watering, only water it when the soil is starting to dry out.
Humidity: Bonsai trees, like any other trees, are used to growing in nature. The outdoors is obviously much more humid than your living room, so it can aid the health of your indoor Bonsai if you can provide humidity. You can buy specially made humidity trays but I just spritz mine with a mist of water once a day, or just when I remember.
Fertilising: Any plant that grows in a pot will need plant food at some point; once the soil is depleted of nutrients, the plant has nowhere else to obtain them from. Feed Bonsai weekly or at least fortnightly during the growing season (Spring/Summer) with a specialist Bonsai fertiliser.
Pruning: Bonsai need regular pruning to keep them small, and also looking neat and tidy. If you aren’t familiar with pruning plants, it really is very easy. Once a branch has 6 to 8 leaves, simply remove leaves (either with pruning scissors or by pinching them off with your fingers), leaving only 2 leaves per branch. You can also tidy the branches that aren’t growing neatly. Read more about pruning here on Bonsai Empire.
If you are just new to Bonsai, choose one of these easier trees to begin with.
Bonsai Ligustrum (Privet)
Chinese Ligustrum – makes a good Bonsai tree if you are just starting out, they are very easy-going. Ligustrum makes a superb choice for beginners, being reasonably easy to train into an attractive evergreen Bonsai. Better known as Privet, these hardy trees are un-demanding and respond well to pruning. The small, dark green leaves form a dense crown above a broad trunk of smooth, grey bark. Ligustrum will often produce small white flowers in spring followed by autumn berries, which give plenty of seasonal interest.
Bonsai Zelkova (Japanese Elm)
Zelkova – or Japanese Elm as it is better known, is a deciduous tree with a lovely upright habit. The bright green, pointed leaves have attractive toothed edges. This species is widely grown as a Bonsai specimen, prized for its flaking bark and attractive arching crown. Bonsai trees make a fascinating feature for a cool, bright room or conservatory. During the summer months they can be enjoyed on the patio outdoors.
Bonsai Ficus Ginseng
Bonsai Ficus (Ginseng) – Bring a little Zen into your home with this robust, easy-care houseplant, grown in Bonsai style.
A quirky plant with an unusual pot-bellied trunk topped with a miniature canopy of shiny green leaves. Place your Ficus ‘Ginseng’ in a prominent place so it can be enjoyed all day, and in summer it can even take pride of place outdoors on the patio or decking.
Ideal for those venturing into the world of bonsai growing for the first time, Ficus Ginseng is the easiest bonsai tree to grow because it is very tolerant of a range of conditions.
Bonsai really is a fascinating form of art. Although it takes many years of practice, if you have time and patience, you will find it very therapeutic and rewarding to grow your own tree in a pot.
My advice would be to consider where you would like to place your Bonsai tree in your home; can you provide it with the light conditions that it requires? Do you have time to water it frequently; if you away from home a lot, Bonsai probably aren’t the best choice of houseplant for you. All the indoor Bonsai I have mentioned above are perfect for beginners, start with one of these easier cultivations so you can learn how to care for them before you move onto more demanding types.
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