Bonsai Care, Bonsai Species, Fruiting Bonsai Trees

Apple Bonsai Tree Growing Tips

A miniature tree that bears fruit is one of the most beautiful bonsai growing projects. The apple tree makes a perfect fruit-bearing bonsai tree. The tree is well known for its dense form, green leaves, and beautiful fragrant flowers. There is great beauty in watching miniaturized apples blossom on the tree. Unlike some other bonsai trees, the apple requires quite specialized care. So, how does one care for the apple bonsai tree?

How to Care for the Apple Bonsai Tree

These growing tips for apple bonsai are crucial for a flourishing tree. Some of the fundamental care procedures include positioning, watering, fertilizing, training techniques, and disease and pest control. Let’s look at the following tips for growing the apple tree bonsai.

The Positioning of the Apple Bonsai

Positioning plays a vital role in the survival of the bonsai. Since the apple tree is a fruit-producing bonsai tree, a lot of sunlight is essential. While it can be grown indoors, I would recommend you find an exceptionally sunny location for the plant. In USDA zones eleven and twelve, the apple bonsai tree can be grown outdoors in full sunlight or under a shade. The apple bonsai tolerates summer heat well, and it flowers in this season. However, the roots of the outdoor-grown apple bonsai should be mulched for protection against cold temperatures.

Apple Bonsai Watering Tips

Apple bonsai need careful watering, especially during the summer. Since the plant flowers and bears fruits in summer, it will need a substantial amount of water. When the apple bonsai is exposed to the sun, you should water it daily. However, ensure that the soil is not waterlogged; just make the soil moist while watering. Take caution when watering the apple bonsai during its flowering period. The flowers are quickly spoiled by the water, with pollination affected as well.

Fertilizing Tips for the Apple Bonsai

With the small size of the apple bonsai canopy, the plant can barely make its food; hence, fertilizing is essential. Frequent watering can also wash away most of the nutrients in the soil. For the health of the apple bonsai, one should fertilize the plant at least twice a month with special bonsai fertilizers, especially liquid bonsai fertilizers. However, fertilizing should be stopped when the apple bonsai starts to bear fruit. With the winter period comes a slower nutrient intake by the apple bonsai tree. Therefore, one should fertilize the plant once in a month with low- or no-nitrogen feed in the winter months.

Training Techniques for Apple Bonsai

When training the apple bonsai tree, you will need professional skills or help from a professional bonsai gardener. Pruning is one of the important steps in training your apple bonsai tree. You should prune for training during autumn or early in spring. Wiring the bonsai tree is also a good way to help your apple bonsai branches stay in the desired shape. Through this technique, one can anchor the apple bonsai branches, pulling them to new directions as a training process.

Dealing with Apple Bonsai’s Pests and Diseases

Apple Bonsai Tree 1

One of the most common infestations in the apple bonsai tree is mildew. In some cases, mildew may be caused by poor air circulation and excessively humid conditions. Aphids may also appear during the growing season, especially when you are using nitrogen-based fertilizers. To combat mildew infestation, you should spray the apple bonsai tree with sulfur fungicides. Commercial sprays against aphids are helpful in fighting the aphids. In most cases, one treatment for the apple bonsai is enough to keep your tree free from the common pests and diseases.

Flowering bonsai trees like the apple are wonderful for offering fresh new looks in different seasons. The apple bonsai tree blooms with fragrant and lovely flowers as well as bearing small fruits. The apple bonsai tree growing tips discussed above are crucial for optimal care for the tree. While caring for the apple bonsai seems to involve a lot of work, the end product is a beautiful and healthy bonsai tree.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Species, Indoor Bonsai Trees, Outdoor Bonsai Trees

How to Care For African Boxwood Bonsai

Boxwood is a very hardy evergreen plant that proliferates well. It is popularly known due to its significant characteristics, thus making an excellent tree to be used as bonsai. The boxwood species includes over 70 varieties of trees. Japanese boxwood (Buxus Microphylla) and common boxwood (Buxus Sempervirens) are the most common boxwood species. Boxwood can be shaped into different designs and is often used as an ornamental shrub. The boxwood often grows with twisted trunks and branches in its natural habitat. These trees have greenish-yellow flowers that usually attract bees. There are several care guidelines that will help them to flourish. In this article, we will discuss how to care for potted boxwood.

Where to Position African Boxwood

During the summer, Japanese boxwood should be placed in a house with high light levels or kept outside with either complete or limited sunlight. A tree should be placed indoors when nighttime temperatures drop below 50 degrees. However, over the winter, you should bring your bonsai inside once nightly lows begin to approach freezing. The plant should be transferred to a north-facing doorstep during cold periods so it may go partially dormant. Boxwood should also be kept cool and away from sunlight. A boxwood plant should be placed outside after a period of dormancy, and its watering and feeding schedule should be increased once it is placed in a location with more light.

When and How to Water African Boxwood

You should never neglect the watering of your boxwood. When the tree’s soil gets dry, water it immediately and never allow the soil to dry completely. Until you get to know the requirements of a tree, you should use a moisture meter to determine the soil’s moisture level. A plant should be watered until water begins running out of the pot’s holes.

Fertilizing Needs for African Boxwood

For your bonsai to remain beautiful and healthy, fertilizing is always necessary. Fertilizer is essential to replenish a soil’s supply of nutrients periodically, since a shrub is growing in such a small amount of land. Liquid fertilizer is suitable for any general purpose and is available at most garden centers. Through cold seasons and dormancy, common boxwood should not be fertilized.

How to Train Your African Boxwood Bonsai

Since boxwood is a complex tree, training should be thoroughly studied or left for a professional to handle. Most potted boxwood is already trained and only requires pruning and wiring. When you are trimming the plant, you should leave one or two pairs of leaves on each branch.  Leaves should be thinned to let sunlight get in them if they become very dense. Thinning of leaves also helps to encourage back-budding, and it prevents inner twigs from dying.

It is necessary to keep your shrub miniature; trimming and pinching are required. A new growth should be pinched and cut from a safe point that is furthest. All new growth should never be removed, thus sustaining the tree’s health. It is vital to evaluate each tree’s growth rate and adjust your trimming and pinching, since different trees grow at a different rate.

Common Pests and Diseases that Affect African Boxwood

Like any other tree, boxwood bonsai should be treated for insects and diseases because the plant is miniature. However, when a plant is properly cared for, the risk of infections decreases. Fungal infections, such as box blight, can attack boxwood bonsai. Nematodes, boxwood mite, boxwood leafminer, or boxwood mite are pests that often affect the boxwood bonsai. Spraying of specific pesticides for most pests and diseases is essential. In severe cases, a professional gardener should be consulted.

Repotting African Boxwood Bonsai

When a bonsai root system has been filled, repotting should be done periodically. Repotting helps to supply fresh soil and to enable more compactness for a root system. You should examine your tree’s root system each year to determine if it has become pot-bound since trees grow at different rates. The potting process is easy and safe if performed correctly and at the right time in most cases. Repotting should be done in mid-summers. The soil and shrub should both be removed from a pot when repotting.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai General Info, Bonsai Tree Care Basics

How Long Can Bonsai Trees Live?

Different bonsai trees have different life spans. Generally, a bonsai tree will live for as long as its parent tree lives. However, there are different factors that will also affect the lifespan of these trees. These factors include the following:

Growing conditions



Climatic conditions

The plant species

Tree care administered


Moisture retention

It is said that if a tree lives for one hundred years in nature, then the bonsai of this tree might also make it to a hundred years. However, since the tree is being grown in a pot, it might not necessarily live so long.

How Long Does an Outdoor Bonsai Tree Live?

Bonsai trees’ wild relatives are left alone in forests. However, bonsai trees themselves need care so that they can survive. Outdoor bonsai trees are no different. The greatest factor to determine the longevity of an outdoor bonsai tree is the primary care you provide. If you nurture it poorly, the tree will wither and die quite soon. Even if it lives, it will be a weak tree that’s unable to withstand climatic pressures.

However, contrary to what many believe, the small stature of these bonsai trees does not necessarily mean that it will have a shorter lifespan than its parent tree.

The oldest known outdoor bonsai tree is the Old Juniper Bonsai tree that is found in Mansei-en in Japan. Shockingly, the tree was tested and proven to have lived for more than one thousand years. The tree was collected in a wild area of Japan. Since it is in training, it is still considered a rough material. You can find it in the Mansei-en Bonsai Nursery of the Kato Family, Omiya.

How Long Does an Indoor Bonsai Tree Live?

Just like that of their outdoor counterparts, the longevity of indoor bonsai trees depends on the care they receive. For indoor bonsai, position really matters. For an indoor tree to lead a healthy life, it needs to be in a place where it receives adequate light for its growth. With proper care, the tree can live for even more than five hundred years.

The oldest known indoor bonsai tree is the Shunka-en, by Kunio Kobayashi. This is a stunning bonsai tree that is displayed at Shunka-en. It has been proven that the tree is more than eight hundred years old.

How Do You Ensure That Your Bonsai Lives for a Long Time?

Just as we had seen earlier, the longevity of any bonsai tree depends on its environment as well as the care that it receives. Environment is a key factor that determines the lifespan and health of your tree. Different bonsai trees thrive in different environmental conditions. For example, outdoor bonsai trees require a cold season. They are likely to die if they are kept indoors. On the other hand, indoor bonsai trees require room temperature to thrive. However, they can be kept outside in milder months.

Watering is another important consideration, just as it is for any other plant. Water your tree regularly and monitor the moisture closely to ensure that the plant is neither over- nor under-watered.

Other practices that will see your plant bloom and live for a long time include the following:

Applying fertilizer for proper growth

Proper trimming to maintain stature and keep it healthy

Getting the ideal soil mixes to grow it in

Checking for pests regularly, and eliminating them if they appear

Bonsai trees are beautiful trees. With proper care and optimal environmental conditions, the tree will lead a long and healthy life.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai General Info, Bonsai Tree Care Basics

How To Tell If Your Bonsai Tree Needs Water

Like all plants on Earth, bonsai trees need fresh, clean water to live. We all know this, but recently one of the girls in my office asked me, “How do you know if it needs water?” I thought she was just being silly for a minute before I realized she was being curious and that it was a valid question. I haven’t thought about it for years because I just water my Ficus Bonsai tree every week, and I never allow the soil to get dry for extended periods of time. This is a question I get asked a lot, so I thought I’d write a post on it.

Feel The Soil To See If Your Bonsai Needs Water

The first thing I’d suggest is to feel the bonsai’s soil. Now, did you notice how I said “the first thing I’d suggest”? That’s because soil dryness can be a sign that you need to water your bonsai tree, but it is not the ultimate sign. I say this because you should be letting your bonsai tree soil get dry between watering. If you keep the soil constantly wet, your bonsai will be prone to fungal infections and will most likely not live for hundreds of years like it is meant to. It’s prudent to check the soil first if you can’t remember when you last watered your bonsai.

Check The Color Of Your Raw Clay Pots

I also wanted to remind you that if you have a raw pottery bonsai pot, it will change color a bit if it is wet or dry. It will be darker if it is wet and lighter if it’s dry. Now I will say that this will only work if the pot you use is raw, and it will only apply if there is extreme over- or under-watering.

Keep A Bonsai Tree Watering Schedule

I’ve found that the best way to make sure that my bonsai trees are always watered correctly is setting up a schedule. My watering schedule is quite simple. I water my bonsai trees on Mondays. I always set an alarm on my cell phone that goes off every Monday at 7:30 am. When I get busy with work and a million things are going through my mind, the alarm really helps.

How I Water My Bonsai

watering bonsai

I water my bonsai with a simple spray bottle. I use the mist setting to spray the leaves and tree, and then I set the bottle nozzle to a direct stream and squirt the soil a few times. Remember to completely soak the soil, but only do this once a week or so. The soil will need to dry completely between watering.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Species, Outdoor Bonsai Trees

How To Care For The Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree

Cultivating and taking care of bonsai trees can seem challenging and labor-intensive, but once you know what you are doing, it isn’t as difficult as it appears. It all comes down to keeping the tree alive, initially; then, once you’re used to watering and pruning it regularly, the more advanced activities are less overwhelming. This article will instruct you how to take care of a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) bonsai tree.

Japanese maples should generally be kept outside, including the bonsai variety. They like sunlight but should be moved to the shade in the heat of midday. A Japanese maple can even stay outside to fall into dormancy in the winter, as it is a hardy plant, but should be protected from temperatures below 14° Fahrenheit.

Watering Japanese Maple Bonsai

Japanese maples need to be watered daily while they’re growing, and sometimes more than once a day, depending on the drainage of the soil, according to Bonsai Empire. A general rule of thumb is to water once the soil is slightly dry. The soil should never be allowed to dry out completely, and when watering, be sure to soak it thoroughly so as to wet the whole root system. This means watering until moisture seeps out of the drainage holes. Rainwater is best, as it is slightly alkaline (which helps these trees thrive), but if you only have tap water, it won’t hurt the tree.

Fertilizing Japanese Maple Bonsai

Provide your Japanese maple with high nitrogen fertilizer in the early spring every two weeks, says Bonsai Outlet, as newly unfurling leaves need the nourishment. Later, fertilize with a much more diluted solution every other week in summer, but take care to not feed with the regular strength and frequency at summer’s hottest. In the late summer to early fall, use a nitrogen-free fertilizer and taper off before winter hits. Be careful not to fertilize too little or too much to ensure a well-proportioned tree.

Pruning Japanese Maple Bonsai

To keep your bonsai tree under control and in the shape you wish it to be, you must prune it. Bonsai Experience mentions pruning unsightly growths and protrusions and pruning the tips of the branches to keep them from growing. You may even snip away individual leaves or groups of leaves. While the top of the tree grows more rapidly than the lower branches, it’s important to observe the entire tree for growth regularly, as it can quickly get out of hand if pruning is neglected.

Wiring Japanese Maple Bonsai

Another technique for shaping your bonsai is wiring the branches. This involves wrapping wire around flexible branches and positioning them in the way you wish for them to grow. For Japanese maples, the perfect time for wiring is in the winter, when the cold has already stripped away the tree’s leaves, making the branches significantly easier to wrap. Branch growth during the spring and summer can also cause the wire to bite into the branch, causing scars. Use anodized aluminum wire. According to Bonsai Empire, starting out with 1mm, 1.5mm, 2.5mm, and 4mm thick wire should be enough to start with. It’s also best to purchase some raffia and soak it before applying it to larger branches to prevent the wire from damaging them. Once your tree is all dressed up in raffia, you can take two branches of similar size and wire them together in several places on the tree while wiring all other branches singly. Start by wrapping the wire around the trunk, and then wrap the wire around the branch or branches you desire from base to tip. Once wired, you can bend them into the preferred shape, making sure the wire will hold it. Once a few months have passed and the branches are set in their shape, and before the growing season, unwire them and remove the raffia.

Repotting Japanese Maple Bonsai

Repotting requires having the right soil and pruning the roots. Bonsai Outlet says to repot every one to two years for trees less than ten years old and every two to three years for older trees in early spring—before the buds open. Be sure to prune the roots so it fits in its container, but cut away no more than half of the root mass of young trees, and cut away even less for older trees. Most sources recommend using a soil mixture of akadama, pumice, and lava rock, but as long as the soil drains well, it should be fine. Also, refrain from fertilizing directly after repotting; wait for about two weeks.

Propagating Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

The simplest way of propagating is growing the maples from seeds, but you can also take a cutting from a living maple in the summer. If you are propagating this way, all you need to do is cut a new branch from the parent tree, removing the lower leaves. Then place the cutting into a pot of soil, burying at least one leaf node, Agverra instructs. They also suggest putting the pot in an open plastic bag to keep moisture in, ensuring it remains wet at all times. Put the pot in a warm spot, but not in direct sunlight. When it begins growing new leaves, this is a sign that it has rooted.

Obtaining a Japanese Maple Tree

As mentioned above, you could propagate a new tree by asking around to see if anyone is willing to give you a few cuttings. However, local DIY stores, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot may already have a few for sale, or perhaps a local nursery. If all else fails, a simple Google search will produce many results, from seeds to seedlings, to even already trained bonsai.

Diseases and Pests in Japanese Maple Bonsai

Japanese maples are pretty hardy, but there are still a few things that you should watch out for. Japanese beetles, for instance, will destroy all leaf growth if allowed. Other pests include scale bugs, mites, and mealybugs, according to Gardening Know How. The damage will manifest as small bumps or “cottony spots” on leaves and twigs. Wilting, yellowing, or puckering leaves can indicate aphids, and borers will show themselves as clumps of sawdust. Taking care of pests is as easy as treating your plant regularly with pesticide. As far as diseases go, canker can attack the tree, presenting itself as sap oozing from the bark. Yellowing, prematurely falling leaves is a sign of Verticillium wilt, and leaves rotting and falling are symptoms of Anthracnose. Pruning appropriately and clearing fallen debris from the base of your tree should prevent these diseases. Keep a close eye on young trees, however, as they have a higher chance of succumbing to diseases and the attacks of insects than that or older trees.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Species, Indoor Bonsai Trees

How to Care For Rosemary Bonsai

Rosemary Bonsai is known not only for its beauty but also for its distinctive flavor and medicinal value; the rosemary herb is a perfect plant for your bonsai gardening. The rosemary is an attractive, tiny-leafed shrub that produces fragrant white, blue, or pink flowers during summer and spring. With the herb partially shedding its fibrous bark, the bonsai plant achieves a beautiful “old” look, even when the herb is still young. Easy to care for, the rosemary bonsai requires a proper location and attention to thrive well inside a house.

How to Care for the Rosemary Bonsai

Obtaining a rosemary bonsai is easy since one can purchase it from a nursery plant or collect one from nature (if you’re an explorative gardener). Bonsai gardeners know that the crucial task is caring for the rosemary bonsai. So, how do you care for the rosemary bonsai?

Positioning Your Rosemary Bonsai

The location of the rosemary bonsai in the house determines well how it will thrive. That said, positioning describes lighting and temperature conditions under which the plant is maintained. We recommend that you place your plant close to the patio door or close to the window. This will allow it to obtain optimal natural light and sun warmth, about six to eight hours each day. The rosemary plant thrives in warm and humid environments but still exhibits some winter-hardiness. Therefore, the plant can be grown in USDA Zone 7 areas successfully. However, temperatures below ten degrees Fahrenheit are lethal for the plant.

Watering Your Rosemary Bonsai

Water is essential for the growth of the rosemary bonsai. However, take caution in watering the rosemary plant. The rosemary plant does not like wet roots and can survive a day or two on dry soil. Since the rosemary plant is sensitive to overwatering, you should use soil that has good drainage. Using terra cotta pots for your rosemary bonsai can aid in avoiding overwatering with the pots allowing the soil to dry out quicker. We recommend that you water the rosemary bonsai when the soil is nearly dry. During the watering process, allow the rosemary plant to soak up water till the soil surface on top is damp.

Fertilizing Your Rosemary Bonsai

With small amounts of soil in the pot, the nutrient supply will run out as the rosemary plant grows. That explains why fertilizing is essential in achieving optimal health for your bonsai plants. After all, no one likes their plants weak and dull-looking. During the growth period of the rosemary bonsai, a weekly supply of supplemental fertilizer is crucial. After the rosemary bonsai has matured, fertilizing it twice yearly would serve the plant best. While fertilizing, you should use the fertilizers at half the recommended strength. The application of the fertilizer should be done by misting.

Training Your Rosemary Bonsai

If you’d like to add glamour to your rosemary bonsai, training is essential. In most cases, when mature rosemary bonsai are sold at tree nurseries, they are trained. The only requirement is periodic pinching and trimming of the plant to keep it miniature. To do this, remove all new growth beyond the plant’s first set of leaves. Eliminate the dead branches as well. With growth rates for different bonsai trees, the evaluation of one’s tree growth rate is vital for optimal trimming and pinching.

What Pests and Diseases Affect Rosemary Bonsai?

When it comes to indoor growing of the rosemary bonsai, gardeners should beware of powdery mildew. This refers to the white and powdery fungus that develops on the rosemary plant if the house had humid conditions and poor air circulation. While the fungus may not kill the bonsai, it makes it more susceptible to other diseases and attacks by insects. To avoid this, keep the house’s humidity low, with good air circulation. Aphids and spider mites are pests to look out for when caring for the bonsai. Treatment of your rosemary plant using non-toxic pesticide soap or any sulfur-based fungicide before the total infestation is essential in getting rid of the pests and fungi.

Unlike more complicated bonsai trees, the rosemary is quite easy to cultivate, even for beginners. While rosemary is viewed by many as a culinary item for seasoning, the plant is also a perfect choice for artistic purposes by bonsai gardeners. With several varieties to choose from, one can hardly get enough of the rosemary bonsai that come in abundant colors, shapes, and scents.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Supplies, Bonsai Tree Care Basics

Can I Use Cactus Soil for Bonsai?

Bonsai cultivation involves several activities that cause a lot of strain to your tree. For example, constantly shaping a bonsai tree takes its toll after some time, so it is essential to have a high-quality recovery system. A healthy root system will ensure that your bonsai tree has enough power and strength to stay alive.

Soil plays a vital role in ensuring you have a healthy bonsai tree with a robust root system. Although you could always buy the ready-made bonsai soils in stores, they can be rather expensive. What soil alternatives do you have for successful bonsai cultivation?

One of the options that you have probably come across is the use of cactus soil. Many bonsai beginners are unsure if cactus soil is a viable option for bonsai trees. When you are new to bonsai cultivation, you must carry out detailed research before performing any action. This is quite understandable since you want the perfect bonsai tree.

Bonsai tree cultivation takes a lot of time and effort, as you have already realized. We don’t want you to make any mistakes because it could cost you your perfect bonsai tree. Let’s take a close look at whether you can use cactus soil for bonsai.

What Is Cactus Soil?

Cactus soil is specially designed for the cultivation and growth of cactus plants. It is commonly referred to as a cactus mix and is widely available in most nurseries and garden centers. Thus, you have the option of purchasing cactus soil or making your own at home. When it comes to cactus soil, you need the right combination of ingredients.

Getting cactus soil from garden centers ensures that you get a mixture with superior drainage qualities. Bonsai cultivation requires soil that can dry quickly upon watering. Soil that holds water can lead to several problems that will stunt the development of your bonsai tree.

Cactus Soil vs. Bonsai Soil

Buying ready-made bonsai soil is an ideal solution when you have sufficient funds. However, you have probably read about different bonsai cultivators who use their own soil mixtures. One great alternative that you could use is cactus soil.

Cactus soil has a suitable water retention rate because it is not prone to break down or condense. The ultra-porous properties of cactus soil make it ideal for bonsai cultivation. You can also use cactus soil for other types of succulents other than the cactus plant.

Cactus soil is just as productive as bonsai soil when appropriately mixed. The key with cactus soil is getting your mixture just right. You will need a specific mix that matches the need of your bonsai tree. Different tree varieties will need different blends, and you will have to conduct proper research to determine the appropriate blend.

When you carefully look at bonsai soil, it resembles the same mixture as cactus soil. Bonsai soil can be classified as cactus soil that has undergone several tweaks. With a little bit of practice, you can start mixing cactus soil to get an exact match for commercial-grade bonsai soil.

Pros of Using Cactus Soil for Bonsai

  • No organic components

Cactus soil does not contain any organic compounds, which ensures that you get a perfect drainage system. Although organic compounds can be beneficial in some situations, they often lead to a lack of drainage. Without proper draining, your bonsai tree roots will rot, causing several complications. Bonsai trees take longer to heal than the average plant, and you don’t want to find yourself in a compromising situation.

  • Perfect water retention rate

The retention rate of cactus soil remains unchangeable throughout the entire process. Most soils will break down and condense after a certain period. With cactus soil, however, you are assured of a perfect water retention rate at all times. You don’t have to worry about your bonsai tree lacking water or having too much water.

  • Ultra-porous properties

The ultra-porous properties of cactus soil ensure that your bonsai tree has enough space to grow and flourish. Understand that proper root development is required to have a healthy bonsai tree. Root development is significantly encouraged by the porous properties of cactus soil.

Cons of Using Cactus Soil for Bonsai

  • Steep learning curve

Making the perfect cactus soil mix can be rather tricky and you need a lot of expertise. A lot of trial and error is required to find the ideal mix. Most of the time, bonsai cultivators don’t have room to carry out several tests. The good news, however, is that you can always get cactus soil from nurseries and garden centers.

Cactus soil is a great option when it comes to bonsai cultivation. This soil works just as well as bonsai soil. Cactus soil and bonsai soil are made up of similar ingredients and provide the same benefits like water retention and good drainage. You get a cheap alternative that guarantees excellent results. Ensure that you find the right cactus mix for your bonsai tree variety.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Tree Care Basics

How to Trunk Chop a Bonsai Tree

When designing your miniature tree, one of the most important considerations is the trunk. A strong trunk not only looks beautiful but also ensures the well-being of your trees. Bonsai tree cultivation can be rather challenging, especially when you don’t know how to develop a large and interesting trunk.

Trunk chopping is one of the most common techniques used to create the perfect bonsai tree trunk. If you don’t know how to trunk chop a Bonsai tree, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at everything you need to know about trunk chopping your bonsai tree.

Is Trunk Chopping Healthy?

Now, you may have come across a group of people who deem trunk chopping a ‘dirty’ word. Why does this happen? Some trees don’t recover fully from trunk chopping wounds. If you have been to bonsai exhibitions and shows, then you might have noticed this.

However, there is nothing wrong with trunk chopping since the scars are only visible from the backside. To many bonsai tree cultivators, the wounds are not an issue, but experienced bonsai connoisseurs might not agree with this sentiment. They feel that the undesired effect of trunk chopping ruins the entire design.

You must understand the side effects of trunk chopping your bonsai tree before we can move on to the next sections.

Bonsai Tree Trunk Chopping

There are two distinct styles of trunk chopping: Moyogi tapering and Spreading Oak tapering. In this section, we will take a look at both of the styles to help you decide which one suits you.

The Moyogi Tapering Style

The Moyogi tapering style can be traced back to ancient Japan. It focuses on the trunk that emerges from the soil and considers it a crucial component of achieving the desired results. Your trunk must, therefore, show signs of movement before you start trunk chopping.

The trunk chopping should be done straight across since new buds don’t develop at high points. If your trunk is not chopped straight through, then the buds may appear at lower points of your bonsai tree. When this happens, you will have to re-cut your tree trunk.

Re-cutting should be avoided since it will lead to a large scar. The problem with large scars is that they set back your tree’s development. However, you can always chop your trunk at an angle should you spot a decent low bud or branch.

The Spreading Oak Tapering Style

With this style, you will have to start by making a straight-across chop, just like the Moyogi tapering style. It is always a great idea to carry out this stage during mid-autumn to ensure you can pick the best three buds.

You then need to wait for the spring season before you start cutting back your branch when you spot four pairs of leaves. You can also leave your bonsai tree branch with only a pair of leaves intact for better results.

After 3-4 weeks of growth, start adding wire to achieve the spreading oak style. This style requires you to exercise patience for around four years before you get the sound and admirable trunk that you want. Your secondaries should be handled exactly like the primaries while you wait for the tertiaries to build a canopy top.

Things to consider before chopping your bonsai tree trunk

Trunk chopping techniques should be used on well-developing tree species only. Ensure that your bonsai tree is a healthy and vigorous species before you think about trunk chopping. Avoid trunk chopping when your bonsai tree shows signs of slow development.

Careful monitoring and panning are required once the tree-back buds because you have to pick another leader.

Hardwood deciduous trees respond quite well to trunk chopping. Tree species belonging to the Acer genus will also respond very well. These trees have a high survival rate and usually bounce back nicely from wounds.

Consider taking a walk in nature to get inspiration on a suitable shape for your bonsai tree. You will come across unusual patterns and shapes that will open up your imagination greatly.


Planning and patience are essential when you decide to carry out trunk chopping. Remember that the entire process will take time, and it can be quite challenging. Open up your imagination and let your bonsai tree guide you on your journey to achieving greatness.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai General Info, Bonsai Tree Care Basics, Indoor Bonsai Trees, Outdoor Bonsai Trees

How To Look After Your Bonsai Tree

The bonsai tradition is one that anyone can participate in. Bonsai growing is not hard, but there are some aspects to it that are unlike those of growing any other houseplant. The way we care for our bonsai is different because of one important aspect: the small, shallow container. Because they are housed in these containers, the trees’ nutrient and water intake is restricted. Soil is another special part of bonsai growing, because they are not planted in regular potting soil. Keep reading to learn how to look after your bonsai.

Bonsai Placement: Indoor or Outdoor?

Generally, bonsai are placed into two categories: indoor and outdoor. It is very important to your tree’s survival that you know what kind of tree you have. The care requirements are nearly identical for these trees, but they each grow best in their own climates. 

Indoor bonsai trees are tropical or subtropical species. This means they like high temperatures, high humidity, and lots of sun. Growing constantly all year, they do not have dormancy periods in the winter. Common indoor bonsai include the Ficus, Carmona, and Jade species. These trees should be placed in front of a window where they can receive as much light as possible, usually a south-facing window. 

Outdoor bonsai, on the other hand, are temperate, continental, Mediterranean, or maritime trees. Unlike indoor species, the outdoor variety goes dormant once a year to survive the winter and prepare for growth in the spring. Exposure to the four seasons is crucial to the tree’s survival. Winters must be cold enough for them to go dormant, but not so cold that frost damages the tree. They must be protected from frost in a greenhouse.

The Importance of Watering

There are some very important factors to consider when watering your bonsai. First, you should never water your bonsai on a schedule or routine. Always check the tree’s soil moisture before watering. Watering on a routine can cause serious issues like under- and over-watering. Both of these will prove fatal if done often enough. 

When your tree needs to be watered, do so with a fine-nozzle watering can to prevent the soil from being disturbed. Using rain water is preferred, but tap water can be used as well. Water generously until the water begins to drain out of the holes at the bottom or sides of the pot. Wait around 10 minutes, then repeat.

Providing Nutrients With Fertilizer

bonsai care

Since bonsai are planted in nutrient restricting pots, they require fertilizer in order to survive. Bonsai fertilizer is composed of three elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Each serves a different purpose but is equally important. 

Because indoor bonsai grow consistently all year, they should also be fertilized all year. Feed with liquid, balanced fertilizer. The rate at which you should fertilize depends on the brand, so follow the directions on the packaging. 

Outdoor bonsai should be fed during their growth season, from spring to autumn. Fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content should be used in the spring, balanced fertilizer in the summer, and lower nitrogen content fertilizer in the autumn. Do not feed in the winter.

Bonsai Soil and Repotting

The right soil is key in the health of your bonsai. Bonsai need a special inorganic fertilizer, rather than organic potting soil. Inorganic soil consists of Akadama, pumice, and lava rock. Good bonsai soil provides drainage, aeration, and water retention. Organic soil provides none of these crucial qualities and will cause your tree to die. 

Deciduous bonsai need a mix of Akadama, Pumice, and lava rock at a ½, ¼, ¼ ratio. Coniferous like the same mix at a ⅓, ⅓, ⅓ ratio. 

Every few years, your bonsai will need to be repotted. This is because new roots will grow, which takes up the room that the soil used to. Once the roots have circled around the root ball, it is time to repot. Old roots should be pruned off. Without repotting, your bonsai will become pot bound, meaning the tree will not soak up nutrients, and it will die. 

Caring for a bonsai tree may seem intimidating at first, but don’t worry! Participating in this beautiful tradition is very rewarding, because you aren’t just looking after a tree, you are embarking on a journey. When you first get your tree, you will either place it indoors or outdoors, depending on the species. Make sure you know what kind of tree you have! Watering should be done as necessary, not on a routine. Fertilizing needs varies from indoor to outdoor species. Repot your tree every few years as needed with inorganic soil. We know you will love caring for your bonsai tree!

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Tree Care Basics, Indoor Bonsai Trees

Indoor Bonsai Low Light

An indoor bonsai tree not receiving enough light can be a major problem – for most bonsai. There are some indoor bonsai that thrive in environments with low light. On the other hand, bonsai that need lots of light will experience harmful and even fatal effects if they are not receiving enough light. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can get your bonsai the light that it needs, including artificial lighting and periodic outdoor placement.

Indoor Bonsai That Grow in Low Light

While most indoor bonsai must be grown indoors in order to receive as much light as possible, there are some bonsai that do not need lots of light to survive. These trees are recommended for those who live in darker, colder areas as well as those who are just starting out in the bonsai world. 

By far, the most popular indoor bonsai is the Ficus bonsai. Trees in the Ficus variety do not need lots of light, can handle low humidity, and do not like direct sunlight. Placing the Ficus at a window where it can receive indirect sunlight and no shade is best for this tree to thrive. 

The Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai is another bonsai that needs very little light and low humidity. They prefer temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These trees do not need artificial lighting at all! Hawaiian Umbrellas can survive solely on the indirect light they receive from the sunlight. 

Another bonsai tree that grows very well in low light is the Lucky Bamboo bonsai. While not actually bamboo, their stems resemble the stems of real bamboo plants, hence the name Lucky Bamboo. They are some of the easiest bonsai to grow because of their tolerance for light. Lucky Bamboo grows very well in low light as well as lots of light.

Problems with Placing Outdoor Bonsai Inside

The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor bonsai is the fact that outdoor bonsai must go into dormancy in the winter, while indoor bonsai do not. Because of this, placing an outdoor bonsai inside can be very harmful to the tree. When placed inside, outdoor bonsai will not be able to go dormant and they will die as a result. 

If your tree looks like it is not growing properly, figure out what kind of tree you have. Maritime, continental, mediterranian, and temperate trees must be grown outdoors, while subtropical and tropical trees need to be grown indoors.

Harmful Effects of Low Light in Bonsai

Most indoor bonsai need lots of light. If your bonsai is not receiving enough light, your bonsai’s growth will slow and eventually cease. If this goes on for too long, your tree will not be able to recover. Signs of low light include yellowing leaves. These leaves will dry out and fall off the tree. It should be noted that yellowing leaves is also a sign of under-watering.

How to Give Your Bonsai Enough Light

We now know how important it is to give your tree enough light, but what can we do to give the tree plenty of light? 

First and foremost, place your indoor bonsai directly in front of a south-facing window or a window where it will receive as much light as possible. While your bonsai won’t receive direct sunlight indoors, placing the tree in front of a well-lit window will guarantee your bonsai is getting as much sunlight as possible. 

It is very likely that even in front of this window, your bonsai isn’t receiving enough light. Artificial lighting is needed for many indoor bonsai. The light intensity the tree will receive with these grow lights will greatly increase the quality of life for your tree. Leave the lights on for around 10 hours every day. Some grow lights can even automatically turn on or off at a certain time every day. 

The amount of light your bonsai receives can make or break or tree. Bonsai that can tolerate low light will, of course, thrive in this setting, but most indoor bonsai will be badly affected by low light. Those that need lots of light will benefit greatly from being placed in front of a well-lit window at all times. Grow lights can also benefit many bonsai that are not getting enough light naturally. Also keep in mind that outdoor bonsai cannot be grown indoors, and vice versa! Your bonsai will always be happier in full sun, but those who can survive it will be just fine in low light.