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Growing Bonsai Trees
Some Things I Learned Along the Way

For many people, growing bonsai trees is a hobby. Some think it a huge challenge. For me it has been a joy and a lifestyle.

growing bonsai trees, tamarind bonsai, tamarind tree

Bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) is a Japanese word, meaning 'tree in a tray'.

It is often misspelled bonzi, bonzai and even banzai.

This Bonsai Mary site will share the magic I discovered during my many years of growing these small treasures, resolve some of the mystery and dispel a few of the myths.

Let's start with the basics ...

What is bonsai?

Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as a "bonsai tree."

There are many types of bonsai trees. 

Many different kinds of plants are used to create them. They are not a species.

Some are not trees at all, they are often shrubs, vines or even succulents.

The tree shown above is a Tamarindus indica, the true Tamarind tree. It was created by me from nursery stock.

Two Basic Elements

No matter what plant you use to start growing bonsai trees, all bonsai consist of two basic elements:

  • Art - To design these small creations, branches are often removed and tops are trimmed. Branches and trunks are temporarily wired to produce new shapes. As in any art form, there are many "rules", I prefer to call them guidelines.
  • Horticulture - In addition to designing and shaping, there is maintenance. The goal is to create a plant that looks like a small old tree and keep it alive. Because they are grown in proportionately small containers, this part can be a challenge.

Where Did They Get Started?


China is usually credited with the origin of growing bonsai trees. (In China they are known as Penjing.) The Chinese frequently use figurines and/or rocks in their compositions.

In Japan bonsai matured to an art form. Today it is a global pastime.

In the Orient, many bonsai trees, hundreds of years old, have been maintained by families through generations.

Around the world today, newer beautiful bonsai tree specimens are also given loving care.

New artists are developing bonsai trees in areas such as the South Pacific, South America, Africa, Canada, North America and Europe. I can't think of any area not fascinated with the living art of bonsai.

How To Start Growing Bonsai Trees

There are over 100 pages on the Bonsai-Mary site. Select a subject from the left column that interests you.

If you're a bonsai beginner, and want to create a bonsai, I suggest you start with How to Make a Bonsai.

Then look at the Beginner Bonsai Trees page for a list of recommended plants to use.

If you have a new bonsai tree and want to learn how to care for it ... see the Bonsai Care page.

Still not sure? Go to the site map which lists every page!

If you're stuck and have a question, you're welcome to Contact Mary

What's New!

  1. Bonsai care confusion? How much water? Will it grow indoors? Here's help!

    Bonsai care basics include watering, fertilizer, knowing your species, pests and more. Bonsai tree care doesn't need to be difficult.

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  2. A Bonsai Convention Surprise Event

    When bonsai people get together, in addition to learning, there's always fun. A bonsai convention is usually a well planned event, but you never know what may happen.This is one of those stories.

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  3. Bonsai Tools You May or May Not Need

    Bonsai tools are created with shapes, sizes and sharpness to do specific jobs and to do them well. How many do you need?

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