Frequently Asked Questions About Bonsai
Tips to Unbox the Package of Your Bonsai Tree
Please view this video for unboxing tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB6Xq8HJm18&t=87s
For medium and large size of trees, when you receive the package of your bonsai tree, open the box from the bottom and lift it up over the tree or slit the side and pull it out. In this way, you can avoid damaging the tree by trying to remove all the packing peanuts then pull the tree out. We have to use the peanuts to cushion the tree while allowing it to breath during the transit. We can't seal it tight or use foams.
Brief History of Bonsai Arts
Please view this video for general information on bonsai.
Practiced for centuries in China and Japan, bonsai is the reproduction of natural tree forms in miniature. Bonsai trees are living miniature trees which increase in beauty and value as they mature over the years. Bonsai originated in China although currently it's more popular and developed in Japan. Far back in 400s and 500s, Chinese people had started practicing bonsai which was called "Pengjing" in Chinese. Mostly it was practiced by the scholars, monks and noble class in the ancient time.
Chinese had always been in love with the nature such as mountains and woods, bridges and flowing water, flowers and plants. They believed the natural beauty were excellent inspirations for their artistic creations and appreciations. As a result the bonsai arts were cultivated by moving the natural trees and flowers to the small containers in miniature sizes.
In addition to the design of the mini tree, the bonsai arts also involve the design of mini-size of rock piling. In now days, the arts of rock piling is still an important part of horticulture in China. In 600s when it was Tang dynasty, the Japanese government sent delegates to China to learn a variety of culture and arts. Some of the Japanese delegates stayed in China for decades. After they mastered the essence of Chinese culture and arts including Zen Buddhism, they returned to Japan and thus the core part of Chinese culture and arts were spread out and carried forward. Bonsai arts which were rooted in Zen Buddhism were then introduced to Japanese.
Through centuries, bonsai arts became popular even in the western countries. People all over the world are fascinated by the design of the combination of the mini tree and rock piling in a small pot. It's a great form for appreciation of the beauty the of nature.
How hard is it to grow & maintain a bonsai tree?
Not at all! Many people have a false concept that bonsai trees are mysterious and difficult to care for. In fact, anyone can grow bonsai trees and enjoy them. All levels of enthusiasts can be rewarded with joy and the sense of accomplishment. However, keeping the health and growth of these little trees requires your COMMITMENT for providing natural light and regular watering. You can fully utilize your creativity for bonsai practice if you choose to. They're pieces of your art works created from home no matter what level you are at.
Certain species can tolerate a bit more "neglect" than others and are appropriate for beginners and gifts where care levels are uncertain. Enter "FICUS" or "UMBRELLA" or "JADE" in our "Search Box" in the upper right of any page, hit "ENTER" key and many choices of size, style and price will appear to choose from. These are great easy care bonsai trees for beginners to start with. Our Flowering and Fruiting trees are just as easy to take care of but are less tolerant to low lighting and drought conditions.
For more detailed and specific bonsai care guides, please visit our website for suggested books.
We offer 20% discount for the most popular one "101 Essential Tips on Bonsai". Free shipping for this book when it's purchased with our tree.
How often should I water my bonsai tree?
Unlike a houseplant, bonsai trees use a "free draining" type of soil because their roots cannot tolerate "wet feet". In addition, they are grown in significantly less soil and, therefore require more watering. Factors such as tree location, temperature, lighting conditions, quantity of soil used, and the changing seasons will determine the frequency of watering. You can get to know when your tree needs to be watered by observing the foliage, testing the soil with your index finger just below the surface, or just by the weight of the pot. (The drier the tree, the lighter it will feel.) To take the guesswork out of watering, we recommend an inexpensive moisture meter which works very much like a thermometer. Insert it into the soil and the movement of the needle will tell you if it is time to water.
In general, most trees kept Indoors will need watering ONCE every 2 to 3 days and trees kept Outdoors will need watering ONCE every 2 days or daily depending on the weather (temperature, humidity and wind).
How often should I fertilize my bonsai tree?
Because bonsai trees are cultivated in limited amounts of soil, adequate feed is very important. As a general rule, a small amount of feed is given in the spring and a larger amount in the fall. Feed for bonsai should contain three principle ingredients; nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash. It is also a good idea to use a fertilizer containing "chelated" iron. Water before fertilizing your tree and then apply at ONE-HALF the strength recommended by the brand's manufacturer. We also add Superthrive which is a vitamin supplement to our fertilizer mix. You may find it simpler and easier to use slow release fertilizer granules (placed over the soil) whose nutrients are released continuously with each watering. Free shipping for this fertilizer when it's purchased with our tree.
How often should I mist my bonsai tree?
All trees grow in more humid conditions than our homes, offices and dormitories. So what can we do to provide this essential humidity ? Misting the tree is only beneficial for a short time, so what we recommend is to place the tree on a humidity tray and add water to the tray. As the water in the tray evaporates it creates a humid environment around the tree 24 hours a day. When the water in the tray is gone, add more water. It's a good idea to separate the pot from the water in the tray by adding some pebbles to the bottom of the tray. This will prevent any roots from sitting in the water.
How much sunlight is required for my bonsai tree?
Sunlight, especially the ultra-violet ray, affects the growth of trees. Therefore, except in special cases such as immediately after re-potting, extensive trimming, etc, bonsai should be placed in a location with as much direct sun as possible although indirect sun works as well. The tree should not be placed more than ONE FOOT away from the glass window as the sun's energy drops off dramatically direct light source. An east, west or southern exposure works best.
A northern exposure will require the use of "grow lights" which should remain on up to 16 hours each day and the lamp should not be more than 2 inches from the top of the tree. Incandescent light is too hot and will not provide the various spectrum of light that is required to maintain your bonsai tree. If you do not have a window or light source that provides an east, west or southern exposure, consider a live Money Tree Bonsai, or preserved, artificial bonsai tree or wire bonsai tree.
How is miniaturizing a tree possible?
Several techniques are used to keep a Bonsai tree small. The tree is grown in a container, the trimming, pruning, repotting and other care given the tree -- all contribute to the final result of limited growth. Dwarf trees are often found in a natural environment, but in Bonsai this environment is provided artificially. Bonsai are grown in shallow containers the size of which determines the amount of soil the roots are able to grow in. This environment definitely restricts the growth of the roots and its functions.
How do I trim and prune my bonsai?
The main objective of trimming and pruning is to shape the bonsai into the desired form and to reduce growth above ground in order to maintain a balance with root growth. The process of shaping begins when the tree is very young and is on-going as it continues its growth. Trimming is accomplished by using a sharp scissors or shears. This traditional tool is called butterfly shears or bonsai shears and is used for removing foliage and light branches. When heavier branches are removed, we call it pruning and the tool to use is the concave cutter, for which there is no substitute. The concave cutter allows you to remove small, medium and even large branches without leaving any visible scars. Some trees such as the Juniper should be trimmed by using the thumb and index finger to remove new growth and to prevent browning and a "sheared" appearance. This technique is called "pinching".
How do I prevent diseases and insects from infecting my bonsai?
As living trees, bonsai are susceptible to insect attacks and disease. Preventive and corrective measures include (a) keeping your bonsai in good health, since insects and bacteria tend to attack weak trees, (b) giving your tree ample light, fresh air and ventilation, (c) keeping the soil free of spent blooms and fallen leaves etc. You may also use an insecticidal soap spray which is not harmful to humans or animals. This soap derivative, however, may require more than one application to control the insect population. It's also a good idea to use this spray weekly to prevent any attacks.
How do I train my bonsai if I choose to?
The Bonsai trees we sell are fully trained however an advanced enthusiast may wish to continue to train and advance it further or create their own using Pre Bonsai Trees. Wiring, a relatively modern method of training Bonsai trunks and branches into the desired forms, has become commonly accepted. It is often used in place of, or in conjunction with the traditional methods of long-term pruning and hemp-rope binding. Copper or Aluminum Wires that has first been annealed in a low-temperature fire is preferred. After it has cooled, it is wrapped around the branches in the direction the branch is to be bent. The branch should be bent once into its final position so as not to harm the cambium layer under the bark. The wire should be wrapped taut, but not too tight, and should be removed just before it bites into the branch -- between 6 and 12 months. The wire is removed with a Bonsai wire cutter by snipping the wire at each turn, thereby allowing the cut pieces to fall to the ground. Never unwind the wire or use pliers to cut the wire, since this will damage the branches.
What is bonsai soil and why is it used for bonsai?
Bonsai trees do not do well in soil that is always wet due to their complex root structure, this promotes root rot. Typical commercially available potting and topsoils are heavy soils that can remain wet for weeks, which is fine for house plants but not trees. Bonsai soil is a mixture of ingredients which allows the water to drain freely and at the same time, retain moisture. In addition, the ingredients allow the roots to breathe air and prevent compaction. There are two basic types of Bonsai soil -- a conifer mix for deciduous & evergreen trees and a tropical/sub-tropical mix for tropical trees that do not freeze. Before adding any soil mixture, be sure to cover the drainage hole(s) with screening to prevent the soil from washing out of the pot. When re-potting, it is always best to use the soil mixture in its dry state.
How often should I re-pot my bonsai tree?
All potted plants will eventually outgrow their containers. While houseplants need to be "up-potted", that is, placed in larger and larger containers, we maintain the miniaturization of a bonsai tree by keeping the roots confined to the small container. On average, re-potting will be necessary every 2 years, but the tree should be removed from its container and its root system inspected once a year. If the roots form a circular ball around the perimeter of the pot, it is time to trim the roots and re-pot. When re-potting remember to (a) use only bonsai soil (b) remove air pockets by working the soil down through the roots (c) do not remove more that 20% of the root system (d) re-pot during the appropriate re-potting season (e) water well and keep out of the sun for a week or two. If you prefer the tree to grow moderately thicker and larger than its current condition (e) water well, consider using a new, large pot (glazed oval, glazed rectangular, unglazed oval, unglazed rectangular, mica pot).
How we measure our trees?
We provide an approximate range of tree height measurement by calculating from the bottom of the pot including the root system to the top of the tree's foliage. As our trees are continually trimmed & trained to encourage new growth and styling, height can vary from season to season. As daylight is shorter and the sun's rays are weaker in the Winter, certain species of trees may appear less full, sparse and shorter in the colder months, much like the trees outside in nature. This is a temporary situation, is perfectly normal and does not lessen the beauty and value of your tree. Most species grow rapidly in the Spring and Summer months.