I distinctly remember seeing a beautiful bonsai tree when I first became interested in them and I wondered, is that even a real tree? I was shaped so perfectly it looked fake. So I did some research and this is what I found.
Are bonsai trees real trees or not? Bonsai trees are real trees that are kept small and shaped in an aesthetic way by their owner. If the owner would not look after the tree it would grow to be really be just as big as a natural tree depending on the species.
So now that we know that bonsai trees are indeed real trees, you should know there is way more to that perfect little bonsai tree you saw in someone’s house or office.
What trees can be a bonsai tree?
To start off: Bonsai is not a separate tree species. This is something I have thought for a while before learning more about it.
Instead, bonsai means ‘plant in tray’ and it is exactly what it says. Although more refined, any plant or tree with a woody stem can become a bonsai tree.
It just needs to be able to be kept small through branch and root pruning. (yes the roots of the bonsai tree are also pruned)
Although there are popular species that a lot of people choose for their bonsai, I love the fact that you can make a bonsai tree from any tree that you see around you in the wild. For some it can be more of a challenge compared to other species, but it is possible.
Popular species include the acer family and the ficus family. If you are looking to start your own bonsai tree, see if you can find a ficus plant for an indoor bonsai and an acer plant for an outside tree.
Do bonsai trees always stay perfect?
It might look like a bonsai tree stays perfect all the time. This is especially the case when you have seen a bonsai tree at an exposition. The truth is that that have their ups and downs.
You might compare it to bodybuilding. Bodybuilders also try and look their best during the shows, and in between them they might gain some weight, loose some muscles etc.
Also, if the bonsai tree stays outside (not a tropical tree) it might loose its leaves during the winter time just like their big cousins in their tree species. Another thing that happens to bonsai is that they get some time to grow without being controlled. This will result in long branches that do not look good on them.
How do bonsai trees stay small?
Because bonsai trees can be made from almost any tree species, you can imagine that they grow to be a couple of meters tall when left alone. Therefore, the way that a bonsai tree stays small is because of its owner.
The owner controls everything about the bonsai, from what branches it gets to keep to how much water and fertilizer it receives. These factors all contribute to the size of the bonsai.
Next to pruning the leaves and branches of the bonsai, a bonsai owner should also prune the roots of its bonsai. When the roots of a bonsai stay small, the growth of the tree will also be slower and more compact.
This is desirable when creating a bonsai tree.
Can a bonsai tree grow in an office?
A bonsai tree is rather popular in office environments. You might even have one in your office as well. This is because they just look so cool! They appeal to a lot of people.
Because a bonsai tree in an office is so popular, we can already conclude it works. However, not all bonsai tree species can grow in an office. This makes sense, because oak trees for example need to grow outside. They can not deal with the temperature.
Tropical species, that are used to a warm climate all year round, can definitely grow in an office environment. They make for great office plants. So if you are looking to buy a bonsai tree to place in your office or home, take a look at the ficus species. Examples include the Ficus Ginseng or the Ficus Benjamina.
Bonsai trees in movies
Over the past few years I have noticed a lot of bonsai trees used as decorations in movies. Especially when their budget is higher, they will have this beautiful extremely detailed bonsai tree standing on a random table to the side of the room.
If you noticed this as well and would like on of those trees in your home, it might get complicated. Some of these trees I noticed were not indoor bonsai trees. They could never survive in the conditions of a normal home.
Also, the bigger trees with beautiful branches can become rather expensive. Older trees that have been a bonsai for many years can become multiple hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Some indoor bonsai tree types for beginners
If you are looking to start an indoor bonsai tree yourself, take a look at the ficus bonsai. There are multiple subspecies to this type, all with some different characteristics.
While there are hundreds of different varieties to the ficus, some of them are especially popular to be a bonsai. These include the Ficus Ginseng, the Ficus Retusa and the Ficus Benjamina.
Because these are more popular, it also means that they are more common. Chances are high that you will find one of these varieties at your local gardening center. I sometimes even see them in my supermarket when they sell some plants.
To keep these bonsai trees, make sure they get enough light. The Ficus bonsai trees like a lot of lights, so a spot in direct sunlight is ideal. They can endure a low humidity, but a higher humidity is preferred.
Keeping a Ficus alive is not that hard, it needs regular watering just like other plants in your room. Make sure you do not drown it in water, and leave some time between waterings. Because of the thicker leaves and thick stems the Ficus is able to store a lot of water. It can therefore stay without water for extended periods of time.
Are bonsai trees safe for cats? A bonsai tree can be a tree that is kept small from a lot of different species. Depending on the species of the tree, it will be safe for cats. These types are toxic for your cats: Sargo palm tree, baby jade, azaleas, plum, cherry, fig, norfolk island pine. Source
Do bonsai trees have benefits to your health? If you keep a bonsai tree indoors, it will clean the air of your house just like other plants will. Also, working on your bonsai can be extremely relaxing. Especially because the process is so slow and delicate, you really can not rush it.
Are there fake bonsai trees? Yes, there are definitely fake bonsai trees available. This again is just like any other fake plants that are available. You can buy low quality, but definitely also high quality fake bonsai trees. You will notice the amount of detail in the higher quality fakes. They are also more expensive.