How to grow a Bonsai tree for beginners

How to Grow a Bonsai Tree for Beginners? [Step by Step Guide]

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Do you know that with little gardening tricks you can find the right trees for yourself, dig them up, process them and turn them into a magnificent dwarf? We will show you everything about how to grow a Bonsai tree in this article. So let’s begin with how to grow a bonsai tree?

A bonsai tree can be grown from seed, from Margot or rootstock, by reshaping the pot from the nursery, and by extracting a suitable specimen from nature. The technique that is recommended for beginners is to buy a suitable young plant in the nursery, which you will further prune and reshape and continue to grow as a bonsai.

As we ask ourselves, what is bonsai? We are standing in nature in front of an old tree, a furrowed bark, branches twisted and bumpy, with a dense canopy. We take a magic wand, reduce that tree to about 8 to 11 inches, remove it from the ground and plant it in a shallow bowl. Right that it’s a bonsai. Of course, such a rapid reduction is impossible, so only patient and calm people can do wonders, with long-term learning from nature and watching her do it herself.

By planting plants – especially dwarf trees – calms the hectic daily life and transforms a person’s psychic load into peace of mind. The development of bonsai during his life becomes a real experience because everything else in life is instantaneous and transient. By creating dwarf trees ourselves, we create something that changes every day.

The goal of bonsai is to present and maintain in a small way the beauty of old trees, which have resisted weather changes for decades and millennia. When cultivating bonsai, the path is more important than the destination. By the way here, I mean the daily observation, reflection, and quiet work with plants, the rest, the joy, and the increase in knowledge and experience that little trees bring.

Most people associate the bonsai memory with the small trees in the pot. They are somewhat right because the literal translation of the Japanese word “bonsai” means just that, “planting in a pot.” However, the topic is extremely complex because you cannot get bonsai by yourself to take a seedling and plant it in a pot. It is a blend of gardening and art.

The principle is to grow a miniature tree that has all the characteristics of that plant species in “normal” size in nature. To bring you closer to this technique, which binds to Japan, I have to explain how it came to be. Specifically, many Asian countries have their own elaborate techniques for landscaping and tree-shaping. These techniques are something by which the top bonsaists recognize and classify each other.

According to the available literature, it is believed that in China during the Han Dynasty (200 BC), the creation of miniature natural landscapes in vessels, called “penning”, began. Penjing or panzai is an ancient Chinese art of displaying and shaping miniature trees, plants, and landscapes.

Penjing can be broadly classified into three categories:

SHUMU PENJING – involves planting one or more trees in a pot (can be combined with other plants). The composition itself is obtained by shaping the dominant element (tree) with the help of wire, trimming and pruning.

SHANSHUI PENJING – shows miniature landscapes with carefully selected and shaped stones, which are usually placed in a pot of water. Small plants are planted to complement the composition.

SHUIHAN PENJING – a combination of the first two Penjings. In it, water and land are combined with miniature trees and figurines that paint a detailed landscape.

One of the more famous legends says that penjing was made because the fat emperor found the journey tiresome, so he ordered a miniature copy of his empire to be made in the courtyard of his palace so he could see his entire estate from the bedroom window. Wanting to preserve the uniqueness of his “mini-garden”, he ordered that anyone who tries to do similar is executed as traitors.

Regardless of the legend, owning a penjing was a sort of status symbol. It was especially appreciated during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279) when the cultivation of an individual tree in the pot began. They formed these first specimens by carving trunks to resemble dragons and other animals, and were called “pun-sai”. Bonsai expanded in the 11th and 12th centuries when China made a significant impact on the surrounding countries.

In Vietnam, the “hòn non bộ” technique was developed, which involves a miniature view of landscapes with mountains and islands, usually bound by water, decorated with trees and other plants. Also, like the Chinese “shuihan panjing”, it can be complemented by small figurines.

Buddhist monks (Zen) are considered the most important for the transfer of bonsai to Japan and the spread among the Japanese aristocracy and samurai. They considered bonsai to be the “green steps leading to heaven” and that it was a direct link between God and humans. The breeder himself, while devoting himself to bonsai, cultivates creativity and every year, together with him, experiences the rhythm of changing seasons.

They thought that bonsai would reward you for the attention and care you gave him so that you would have a calm mind, a sense of refreshment, and inner calm. In the 19th century, bonsai spread from Japan to the west. According to available data, the first major bonsai exhibition in Europe was held in London in 1910.

There are several types of bonsai trees and the simplest selection is:

  • bonsai indoor growing trees
  • bonsai trees for growing in open spaces

Bonsai trees by size:

  • keshitsubo (from 1 to 3 inches)
  • shito (from 2 to 4 inches)
  • mame (from 2 to 6 inches)
  • shohin (from 5 to 8 inches)
  • komono (from 6 to 10 inches)
  • katade-mochi (from 10 to 18 inches)
  • chumono/chiu (from 16 to 36 inches)
  • omono/dai (from 30 to 48 inches)
  • hachi-uye (from 40 to 60 inches)
  • imperial (from 60 to 80 inches)

If you decide to buy a bonsai tree, you should be informed about the particular species, but there are other ways to grow a bonsai tree except buying it. We will tell you more about it in our article.

Now I will tell you in steps how to grow Bonsai tree even if you are a complete beginner. Don’t worry, just follow these steps.

How to Grow a Bonsai Tree for Beginners?

Take this adventure boldly. Almost every small specimen of a tree from nature can become your new green pet.


  1. Find a suitable copy. It would be ideal to find a young tree that stunted due to difficult living conditions (storms, various injuries, obstacles to growth). You will recognize it for its irregular shape.
  2. Take it out with a whisk. Carefully draw a circle around the stem so that you can lift it without injuring the roots.
  3. Root rinse. With the extracted stalk, carefully rinse the root from excess soil


  1. Lining the bowl – In the bonsai bowl, put the nets on the drainage holes. This will allow normal drainage and prevent drainage leaving from the vessel.
  2. Wire net connection – Take a long piece of wire and thread the ends through the drainage holes and nets (from outside to the inside of the bowl). One U-shaped end runs through each drainage hole.
  3. Filling the bowl – Put a ceramzite on the bottom of the prepared pan. These are baked clay balls that allow better throughput.
    After that, fill the container with a universal bonsai substrate, which you can find in any well-equipped gardening shop. I mixed the substrate with perlite (inorganic volcanic sand) to get even more permeability.
  4. Root treatment – Before you can plant a tree in a shallow pot, you need to adjust the root. You will do this by trimming thick roots with a saw, especially injured ones so that they remain small roots.
  5. Planting – After processing the root, place it in the pot with the substrate that you have prepared before, then secure the trunk with the wires. Root the roots with the substrate.
  6. Circumcision – After planting, it’s time for a drastic cut. Cut thick branches with scissors. Thinner tear off with your fingers carefully so the bonsai will heal more irregularly and interestingly.
  7. Decorating with moss – You can decorate the substrate by joining pieces of moss.

Bonsai hand tools – various types of scissors (for thicker branches, for tops), small broom for cleaning soil from roots, pruning saw, connecting wire, wiring harness, pliers for cutting and bending wire, drainage net, graft knife for vaccination, or treatment of natural wounds.


Techniques for making and designing bonsai in Asian countries are defined in the smallest detail. Each province has a traditionally elaborated technique, according to which formatting differs in detail from other provinces.

However, these techniques are not thought to be so clearly defined in western countries.


To know how to prune a tree, you need to know something about growing it. The trees, in fact, have a natural tendency to grow in height, so-called peak dominance.

It is a natural mechanism by which trees fight for light. By distributing the growth to more branches, the trees neglect their inner and lower branches, which are therefore dried. There are two types of pruning bonsai. The first is pruning to form a tree into a basic shape or style (“drastic cut”). The second is pruning to maintain that form or shape.

A thorough and timely “drastic cut” suppresses “peak dominance” because pruning the top branches will suppress the unwanted growth of bonsai in height and thus force the tree to distribute the growth to the inner and lower parts. You make such a “drastic cut” in early spring or late fall, while the tree is at rest. Pruning to maintain your existing shape and perfect your shape works during the growing season (spring to fall).

Prune your trees regularly to achieve a more even growth of the tree, accelerate the growth of the leaves and therefore the density of the canopy.

There are special bonsai molding and trimming tools that can greatly assist you, but as a beginner, you can use a handy tool.

Unlike deciduous trees, coniferous trees are not pruned but cut off exclusively. Specifically, if you were to cut the twigs, there would be drying of the needles at the cutting points. To prevent this, carefully brush the tops of the twigs with your index finger and thumb to form a canopy.


A technique that removes leaves from the deciduous trees during the summer (in the leafing stage) to grow new leaves. This results in additional branching and growth of smaller leaves, which gives the trees a more compact and nicer shape.


An extremely important technique that is done with the help of a wire. The wire is carefully wrapped around a twig and then bent with it. This will fit the tree exactly to the shape you want. With most trees, it can be used all year-round.

For practical reasons, deciduous trees are better wired during the standstill phase cause it is simpler because of the absence of leaves.

It is important to keep in mind that as the season grows and develops, the branches progress rapidly and as a result, the wire could cut into the bark and create unwanted scars. So it is a good idea to check the wire regularly and remove it on time.

It should be noted that not every wire is suitable for wiring. Because it takes several months for the wired twig to take shape, the plain wire can corrode and leave rust on the tree, which is not desirable.

So it’s good to use wires that won’t corrode. It is recommended to use aluminum wire for deciduous trees and copper wire for conifers. Suitable wire thicknesses are from 0.04 to 0.16 inches, depending on the thickness of the twig you are wiring.


If viewed from the artistic side, the tree-shaped by the penjing technique is different from the bonsai technique.

Penjing allows for a wider tree shape (more “wild-looking”) and is planted in lighter-colored vessels, creatively shaped. In contrast, bonsai is simplified in a more refined appearance, planted in unobtrusive, shallow vessels with simple lines and shades of color.


Not every tiny tree is bonsai!

Bonsai are dwarf, older trees in pots, carefully shaped to have all the characteristics of a large, normal, tree.


  1. By removing a suitable specimen from nature
  2. By designing an already planted pot
  3. From seed

Each of these cultivation methods has its advantages and disadvantages. Choose the one that works for you. I hope I have not discouraged you from growing your Bonsai tree with the whole creation and maintenance story. I would like you to understand why the technique is so praised and wrapped in a veil of mystery. Equally, I want to bring bonsai closer to each of you so you can make one yourself.

Growing a bonsai tree and keeping it alive can look very difficult, but it really just requires a lot of information and caution. The instructions we have provided here apply generally to bonsai trees, but after purchasing, you should pay attention to the species and be informed about it. In the future, we will write more bout bonsai trees, so keep a look at future articles.

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