Bonsai Plant Care
and an Introduction to Everything Bonsai

For many people, bonsai plant care is a mystery.  For others, it becomes a joy and a lifestyle.

Tamarind bonsai tree grown from nursery stock.Tamarindus indica Bonsai Tree

Often misspelled bonzi, bonzai and even banzai, (pronounced bone-sigh)  it is a Japanese word, meaning 'tree in a tray.'  This site will share the magic discovered during many years of growing these small treasures, resolve some of the mystery and dispel a few of the myths.

The tree shown here is a Tamarindus indica, the true Tamarind fruit treeIt was created from nursery stock. 

Let's Start With the Basics

Itoigawa Juniper bonsaiItoigawa Juniper bonsai by John Kirby

What is bonsai?

Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as a "bonsai tree."  They are not a species.  Many different species are used to create plants that look like small old trees.  Some are not trees at all, they are often shrubs, vines or even succulents.

Two Basic Elements

No matter which 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, bonsai plant care can be a challenge. 

Knowing the species of your tree is vital to good bonsai plant care.

Where Did They Get Started?

Example of Chinese bonsai known as PenjingPenjing

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, many artists agree, bonsai matured to an art form. Today it is a global pastime.  

In  Asia, many bonsai, hundreds of years old, have been maintained by families through generations.  Today, around the world, newer, beautiful bonsai tree specimens are being given loving care.

Bonsai Plant Care

If you have a bonsai tree and want to learn learn more about how to learn more about learn more about bonsai plant care, see the Bonsai Care page. 

How To Start Growing Bonsai Trees

There are over 100 pages on this site. Select a subject from the left column that interests you.  If you're a bonsai beginner, and want to create a bonsai, start with How to Make a Bonsai.

Where to Go From Here

Bonsai Care Basics What You Need To Know

Bonsai Mary no longer publishes her Bonsai Banter blog, please enjoy these

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