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Bonsai Plant Care
and Introduction to Everything Bonsai

Many types of trees are used and often take different care.  For many people, bonsai plant care is a mystery. Some think it a huge challenge.  For others, it becomes a joy and a lifestyle.

Tamarind bonsai tree grown from nursery stock.Tamarind 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 tree.  It was started 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 kinds of plants 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 plants 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,"  we 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. 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 the Orient, 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 how to care for it, 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

Specific plant names list

Growing bonsai indoors

Bonsai Care

Bonsai Banter

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