Bonsai Tree Starting Techniques

Bonsai Tree Techniques


This East Asian method of growing plants has grown in popularity over the last few years. A bonsai tree is not just another plant. These miniature trees are carefully trained over a number of years to get the perfect shape and form. Any plant can be turned into a bonsai tree if an adequate amount of time is spent in training it.

The process of developing bonsai trees started about 2000 years ago in China. Later, this method of growing plants traveled to Japan with Chinese Buddhist monks. The current method of raising bonsai trees that is popular in the United States and Europe comes from Japan.

Unlike the popular conception of bonsai trees, these plants are not naturally small trees. Instead, they are trees that are trained to be smaller. Owners must constantly prune and care for their plant to make sure that it grows into the desired form and stays small. Special attention has to be paid to environmental factors, watering and sunlight. Too much or too little of any of these factors can severely harm the plant and even cause it to die.

Anyone who wants to get started with bonsai trees can find numerous resources at their disposals. If someone is short on time, they might want to consider purchasing an already trained bonsai. Other individuals like to start their plants out from seeds so they can better control the process.

Trained Bonsai Tree

Trained Bonsai

The easiest way to get started with bonsai plants is to buy one that has already been trained. Seeds can take years to grow into full-sized plants. With trained bonsai, users have an alternative. These plants can be found at nurseries, garden centers and online stores around the country. Expertly trained professionals spend years painstakingly training the bonsai into its correct form. The only drawback for trained bonsai is the cost. Since professionals spend so many years cultivating the plants, the bonsais naturally have a higher cost.

For individuals who do not want the wait time, these plants offer an alternative. Since they are only partially-trained, owners can still shape them into the exact form that they want. With partially-trained bonsai, users get the same experience without the wait.

Bonsai Tree Harvesting Wild Plants

Harvesting Wild Plants

For the nature lover, starting a bonsai tree using a wild tree can be a very stimulating experience. Taken directly from Mother Nature, these bonsai trees let users work closely with nature and the natural shape of the plant.

When the plant is collected, users should make sure that it is done with the permission of the land’s owner. Harvest the plants early in spring and take enough of the surrounding soil so the plant does not go into shock. Over the course of a few seasons, the plant will recover enough to begin the training process. Just about any plant can be transformed into a bonsai tree, but all plants will require a significant time investment if they came from the outside world.

Bonsai Tree Air Layering

Air Layering

If individuals want to have a large tree within their first growing season, choosing to do air layering is an option. This propagation method involves taking a large branch or portion of a tree and using it to make an entirely new plant. Once the branch has been removed, it should be protected with sphagnum moss and wrapped in tin foil while it roots.

In roughly three to six months, the branch should have enough roots that it can be planted in a pot. Users should always use caution when doing air layering. Air layering that is not done properly can cause scars on the mother plant.

Bonsai Tree Cuttings


If a user already has a bonsai tree they love, they can take a cutting so that they can have multiple trees that are genetically identical. Compared to seeds, bonsai trees that are from cuttings take far less time and is often easier to do.

To take a cutting, users just have to cut a branch from a tree and then place it in the soil. It can also make the process of growing bonsai more efficient. Unwanted branches from older plants can be reused to create beautiful new bonsai. As users start the bonsai process, they should always try to take cuttings in the springtime. During this season, plants are already coming to life and any cutting will have a better chance at surviving.

Bonsai Tree Seeds


Beginning and advanced bonsai enthusiasts often turn to seeds for starting out their bonsai plants. One of the greatest reasons for this is the drastically cheaper cost. A packet of rare bonsai seeds is much cheaper than an already trained bonsai tree.

Once the tree has started to grow, bonsai enthusiasts can completely control the entire process and put more hours into nurturing it. Many people also like the experience of watching their plant grow and transform over the years. The main negative with this method of growing bonsai is the excessive amount of time it takes. It can take plants anywhere from three to five years to grow into full bonsai when they are started from seed. For people who have the time, the joy of watching the plant transform into an aesthetic masterpiece is worth it.

Bonsai Tree Grafting


If propagating a bonsai by seed or cutting is impossible, choosing to use a grafting method is a decent alternative. This procedure entails taking a branch from the desired plant and attaching it to the potted tree. Often, nurseries will do this so that they can create huge numbers of plants in a shorter amount of time.

Unfortunately, grafting can be a cost prohibitive option. Part of this reason is because of the low success rate of the grafts. Even a professional who has had years of experience may still only get 10 to 80 percent of their grafts to grow. Since this method is highly desirable, it often fetches a higher price on the market. For individuals not concerned about the cost, grafted bonsai trees are a beautiful alternative that contains many characteristics not seen in the typical bonsai tree.

Bonsai Tree Defoliation


Defoliation is one of these techniques, and is mainly used to reduce the size of leaves. It can also stimulate growth and increase the number of leaves over time. Defoliation also stimulates production of delicate new branchlets, allowing twice the growth in a single growing season.

Bonsai Tree Clamping


In order to shape the plant the way you desire, you can use clamping to force the trunk and branches to change direction. It might already be headed a certain way, but you can change this with the right equipment. The advantage of using a clamp is that you can work with the thicker trunks that would normally be unmovable.