Bonsai trees have been around for hundreds of years and are only increasing in popularity. They are perfect for people with limited space or as gifts because they are easy to care for indoors. However, caring for bonsai trees is not always as easy as it sounds!
This post will provide information on caring for indoor bonsai trees. We’ll cover how to find the right tree (there is a lot more variety than you might think!), watering tips, how often to water your tree, fertilizer options, and problems that can occur when caring for bonsai trees indoors.
History of the Bonsai Tree
The bonsai tree originated in China and Japan over 300 years ago. The practice of caring for these miniature trees soon spread to other Asian countries and Europe, and North America.
Bonsais really took off when a French ambassador brought one back from his travels to Asia in 1887. This single tree inspired people across the world with its meticulous beauty. Today, the art of bonsai is practiced not just by gardeners but also by artists who find inspiration in recreating nature’s delicate balance through these tiny living sculptures!
The idea of bonsais as living sculptures was introduced in the 20th century when prizes, where given annually at international exhibits, judged the size of a tree rather than its artistic merit.
There is a highly diverse range of culture and tradition surrounding the practice – including religious symbols such as Buddha’s head turned into bonsai trees.
Zen and the Art of Bonsai
People mostly consider bonsai trees a Japanese art-form, but the principles of caring for them, and their artistic tradition, originated in China. Zen Buddhism states that energy makes up everything and flows through us naturally. Buddhists believed bonsais to be one way to help restore this flow by providing an object outside oneself on which to focus.
This way of caring for bonsai trees is now a method of caring for oneself and is a popular therapy in the Western world, helping people find peace and ease their feelings of anxiety or stress.
Types of Bonsai Trees
There are many types of bonsai trees, each with unique characteristics that make caring for it a little bit different.
The most common type is the evergreen tree, like the juniper or pine. These trees require more water than deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter). However, they don’t need as much fertilizer because they retain needles all year instead of shedding them periodically.
For those who want something smaller and livelier looking, small-leaved varieties, such as azalea and camellia, can grow inside or out. And if you’re adventurous, try some tropical fruit-bearing plants like persimmon, avocado, or banana trees.
5 Popular Bonsai Tree Varieties
While many varieties of trees can become a bonsai, the five most popular varieties of bonsai trees are as follows:
Eucalyptus bonsais are popular because they grow quickly, thrive with low lighting, and can be trimmed into a variety of different shapes. They are also one of the easiest bonsais to care for.
Cypress bonsais are recognizable because they have long, trailing branches. These trees require some protection from the cold and should never be allowed to dry out completely.
Junipers also come in various shapes, but all retain their needle-like leaves even when trimmed closely, making caring for them much more manageable. Additionally, they only need to be watered when dry and can withstand periods without water as long as sufficient humidity levels are maintained.
One of the most popular types of tree for bonsai, pines thrive in cool climates and require a lot of care but produce beautiful shapes with their long branches. Pine bonsai trees should be misted with water more often than other varieties of bonsais because they need to retain moisture levels constantly. They can’t survive periods without water as long as some others varieties.
Japanese maple bonsais
Japanese maples are most popular with experienced bonsai gardeners who enjoy caring for delicate, thin leaves. Through trimming, Japanese maple trees can are often shaped to resemble other shapes, such as a ball or flat-topped pyramid.
Caring for Bonsai Trees Indoors – How to Water
To ensure your tree has enough moisture during the winter months, leave it at room temperature (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit). If your home doesn’t have a decent humidity level, consider placing an electric humidifier next to the plant; this will add more moisture onto the leaves and needles via evaporation from a tray of water inside the humidifier.
Since the plant is inside, it will require more frequent watering than a tree that lives outside in warmer and more humid conditions. Make sure to check your bonsai daily for signs of dryness or wilting leaves. If you notice any dryness, be ready with some water. However, be careful not to overwater. Too much water in the soil can cause root rot which kills the tree from the ground up.
Caring for Bonsai Trees Indoors – Fertilizer Options
As indoor plants go, caring for bonsai trees is relatively easy. For instance, fertilizers are usually optional. If needed, though, use slow-release pellets made specifically for houseplants (rather than an all-purpose fertilizer). They provide the perfect amount of nutrition for bonsai trees and are less likely to burn the roots.
Additionally, manufacturers make fertilizers explicitly for bonsai trees, so be sure to check those out. But be sure to match the fertilizer with the type of bonsai you’re growing.
Pruning Your Indoor Bonsai Tree
It’s easy to know when it is time to prune your bonsai tree: if you notice branches are growing in the wrong direction or too thick and heavy for their location on the trunk, it’s time to prune.
When caring for an indoor bonsai tree, try not to trim off more than a third of any branch at one time. Instead, make minor cuts back from the end of each branch over several years. This method ensures some new growth after being trimmed, which creates fuller branches.
Also, consider where you’re placing your plant. For example, shorter trees can grow under lamps, while taller ones can thrive on tables, desks, etc.
Shaping Bonsai Trees with Wire
Sometimes, caring for bonsai trees indoors involves shaping them. For instance, a tree that has grown in the wrong direction can be encouraged to grow upright with wire and some careful bending of branches.
Before wiring your plant, make sure to position it somewhere stable, so you don’t have to worry about it toppling over! Then take out any dead or diseased limbs from the trunk. Next, loop some sturdy wire around each branch on both sides of the desired bend. Doing so will help keep your shape even while doing gentle manipulation. Just remember not to overlap the wires too close together, or they will cut into the branch (ouch!).
To wire a tree horizontally, use strong wire to make loops around each end of the desired section. Then gently spread them apart so you can bend one loop upwards and the other downwards.
Keep in mind that caring for bonsai trees indoors is an art. And just like any work of art, sometimes mistakes happen, such as misplaced branches rooting themselves where they shouldn’t be. If cutting or shaping doesn’t do the trick, try using some softwood charcoal powder between plants as an herbicide; then plant something else in that area.
Problems with Caring for Bonsai Trees indoors
Caring for indoor bonsai is still a little tricky, just like caring for any other plant in your home. The most common problem that can occur when caring for an indoor bonsai tree is overwatering. Make sure not to water too often or too much at once because this will cause root rot which, again, will kill the tree. If you’re unsure whether it’s time to water again, take a peek under the pot. If dry soil reaches halfway down into the container without touching the bottom leaves, it’s time to give your tree some love by watering it.
Caring for Bonsai Trees Indoors – Other Considerations
When caring for bonsai trees indoors, there are a few other things to consider.
Watch the temperature in your home; if you’re heating or cooling with electric heat or A/C, make sure not to use too much of either so that you don’t dry out the soil and kill your tree.
Be sure to protect your tree against harsh, direct sunlight. The hot sun can fry leaves as well as cause dehydration.
Place plants near windowsills but never directly under them during day hours. The hot sun will dry out the plant and cause it to die.
And, once again, be sure not to overwater!
Caring for Bonsai Trees Indoors – The Wrap-up
Caring for bonsai trees indoors is straightforward if you remember some simple tips. Water your tree as needed (but don’t over-water), fertilize sparingly with slow-release pellets or a fertilizer explicitly made for indoor plants, and protect against harsh sunlight by placing near window sills but never directly under them during day hours. Happy growing!
What is bonsai?
Bonsai is the art of growing trees in containers, with deliberate stunting and manipulating their shape to look like miniature specimens of larger trees not grown in pots. Bonsai was developed from techniques originally used by Asian gardeners, but Bonsai’s popularity increased globally after it was introduced by the Japanese bonsai master, Masahiko Kimura in 1965.
The bonsai tree is essentially a tiny tree-shaped through careful trimming and potting and nurturing with fertilizer. The bonsai cultivation process is supposed to mimic the conditions of a mature bonsai’s natural environment, and because of this bonsai growing can be difficult and time-consuming.
FAQs for Caring for Bonsai Trees
The best light for bonsais could be defined as bright, indirect sunlight or diffused artificial light. Avoid shadows and direct sun. Sunlight should not hit the bonsai tree directly but instead come from above, behind it, or from one side, preferably from the east or west.
If you place your bonsai outside in the summer, be sure it isn’t being scorched by the heat of direct sunlight. A bonsai tree will stop growing when it is subjected to very bright sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Additionally, it needs a certain amount of darkness at night and semi-shade during the day in order to be healthy.
There is a bonsai tree for every gardener, whether you live in Alaska or Florida. Bonsai plants can be grown in all climates. Bonsai trees can be grown outside if the weather is warm enough, but bonsais are typically kept indoors so their bonsai containers do not need to be watered as much. Bonsai tree varieties vary depending on climate and local conditions.
There are over 3000 different bonsai trees varieties from around the world, although only a small proportion of these are commonly available in garden stores. Bonsais come in many different shapes and sizes, but the bonsai that most people think of is a dwarf evergreen tree or shrub. Common bonsai plant species include junipers, pines, firs, spruces, and birches. Bonsais that are of the deciduous variety lose their leaves in winter, while bonsai evergreens retain their leaves throughout the year.