Bonsai and Penjing Care

Who wouldn’t want to try the challenge of growing and caring for a bonsai?  They bring out the childish wonderment in almost everyone.  Although they seem daunting, they really are relatively simple with a few tips. 

First off, what is a Bonsai?  Its not a type of tree, but rather a term used for dwarfing a tree by various techniques.  Many trees lend themselves successfully to the art of Bonsai.  So, how do we dwarf them?  Pruning them is the biggest factor.  Allow the tree to grow, but trim the new growth back slightly, (not completely).  The roots will have to be trimmed back when its evident that they have gotten too big for their pot.  Generally, once roots have been pruned, its a good idea to prune the top of the plant also.  

Keep any hardwood trees such a maple or oak outside in sheltered and filtered light.  Evergreens can also be kept outside, but again, in a shadier place.  Watering is crucial and these trees can not go long periods without water, but neither should they sit in trays of water for any length of time.

Some trees need to go through a dormancy.  During the winter months, keep them in a cool place and back off on the watering. Our Albertan winters can be too brutal to over winter your plant outside.  A heated garage or burying your plant can often get you through.  Once spring arrives, you can put them back outside.  

Indoor varieties of Bonsais usually include Ficus, which technically isn’t a bonsai at all, but grafted and therefore known as a Penjing.  Penjing is also the art of miniaturizing a plant to appear as a small tree.  Money Trees, Ming Trees and Ficus look great done up as Bonsais, and are extremely easy to keep in the house.  Set in indirect sunlight and allow the soil to slightly dry out in-between waterings.  Foliar Fertilizer is the easiest and safest way to feed your plants during the growing season.

This may all seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t, It just involves consistency and a vision.  So, how much are Bonsais worth?  One sold in 2013 in Japan for $1.3 Million dollars.  And the oldest Bonsai is over 800 years old!  No doubt he outlived several of his owners!