Shohin and Mame Bonsai Care

Shohin and mame bonsai care is more demanding than maintenance of your other bonsai. First of all, their small pots dry out much quicker.  It’s also more difficult to see pests, unless you pick the trees up individually.

Sometimes even one new leaf can make a difference in design, therefore, they need more frequent pruning. A larger bonsai tree may take full sun, while a tiny one of the same species may need the protection of a little shade.

Windy days can be especially dangerous. First of all, the wind may dry the plants out much faster than you expect.  Secondly, little bonsai often tip over more easily.

Bay Island Bonsai Exhibit 2013, photo by Sam Edge

Bonsai Wire on Small Trees

As with any bonsai, wire is used to shape miniature bonsai. 

Since there are so few branches, it is especially important for them not to be scarred. Never try to unwire a small tree. For less chance of damage, remove the wire with your wire cutter.

Placement of Benches

shohin, mame, miniature bonsai, neea bonsai

Why would the size of bonsai make a difference where benches are placed?

Concrete, gravel and many other hard surfaces often reflect heat toward your trees.

A grassy lawn may be a better choice of where to place benches with very small trees.

Raise your benches a little higher than you would for your larger bonsai. You will be able to see the small bonsai better and they will be easier to reach. Also, remember, even though they are small, they need breathing space. Do not allow them to touch each other on the benches.

A Special Technique
for Shohin Bonsai

shohin, bonsai care, miniature bonsai, mamCross-section View of Container with Holes

Because of their small size, miniature bonsai care will include watering more often than you realize. Sometimes, more than once a day.

shohin, mame. miniature bonsai

Placing miniature bonsai in a bed of sand or small gravel keeps them moist and also keeps them from tipping over.

I used a tray, similar to the one above, for my smallest mame. 

If you use this technique, it is important to pick up your miniatures from time to time, as the roots will grow through the bottom of the pot.

For vacations, trays such as this are especially helpful.

Watering Tips for Miniature Bonsai

Watering bonsai from the top with a fine spray from a garden hose is best.  Make sure you make two or three passes. (A watering can works well if you don’t have too many trees.)

shohin, mame, miniature bonsai

When you find a miniature tree that somehow missed its watering, “dunk” it! Let it soak thoroughly.

(I kept a small bowl of water handy for such emergencies.)

If you have a large number of shohin and mame, divide them into the three groups according to what they like:

  • keep moist
  • wet, and 
  • a little drying out (such as pines and jade varieties.)

Shohin Indoors

Shohin Bonsai Indoors

Anthony Di Masso, City Island, in the Bronx NY uses glass tanks for his shohin.

He attached four dome lights, one to the stand facing up from the bottom of the tank. he then wired a computer fan to an AC adapter, and attached that to the lid.  To many, this may be considered 'extreme bonsai' but it works in Anthony's small space!

Miniature Bonsai Under Lights

Jack Wikle created a much less complicated project in his basement ...  see details on the "indoor bonsai" page.

miniature bonsai, shohin, mame bonsa

You will need to give your miniature bonsai care at least once a day. Combine watering with pest and health inspections.  

Just because they’re small does not make them pest free.

Less size does not mean less care.

Where to Go From Here

 Miniature Bonsai trees page

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