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August 14, 2011

Want to Grow a Bonsai Tree?

Yesterday Mr. Munro and I were listening to the radio while driving down the motorway. Hubby listens to a fuddy-duddy station with lots of chat, but it turned out to be interesting when the discussion turned to bonsai trees.

The lady speaking about them made growing bonsais sound very easy. Hubby and I like projects, so this weekend we’ve done some research.

Although bonsai is a Japanese word, bonsai trees were first known in China back in 1000BC. They were grown as gifts to give to the wealthy and were called pun-sai.

Bonsai Tree

Bonsai are grown in shallow pots and usually kept outside. They should be kept out of direct sunlight because there’s not much moisture in the pots. Quite a few varieties of trees are suitable to turn into bonsais, including several New Zealand natives such as the pohutukawa and kowhai. The lady on the radio mentioned Japanese maples are very pretty since their leaves turn color with the seasons. Basically you choose a seedling or small “junior-sized tree” from the plant nursery. Trim one-third of the roots off the tree and also trim the leaves so you gain a nicely shaped tree. The branches can also be wired to attain an attractive shape. Special soil is required – check at your plant nursery – and of course you need your special shallow pot. Once the bonsai are established, they require yearly root trims and shaping.

We have lots of small seedlings underneath our hedge, and we thought we’d try growing a pohutukawa bonsai.

Here’s a video on how to make your own bonsai tree

Do you like bonsai trees? Have you ever grown one?


  1. Mary Kirkland

    That’s an interesting idea. I’ve seen a couple of those tree’s in the nurseries here and they are really expensive to buy a nice tree already grown and trimmed. I’m sure starting one yourself would be fun though.

    • Shelley Munro

      Bonsais are very expensive to purchase. I hope I see some when I visit China. From what I hear the gardens are beautiful there.

  2. Nas

    Hi Shelley,

    Thanks for this video of how to make your own bonsai. I’ve been interested in bonsai for long now, and will try. It’s so beautiful. I’ve always though of trying with rubber tree with it’s maroonish leaves.

    • Shelley Munro

      It looks fairly easy, doesn’t it? Let me know how you go.

  3. Heather

    I do think Bonsai are pretty cool, but have never tried to grow one. It’d probably look pretty puny next to the Dragon Tree.

  4. sandra cox

    I’ve always found Bonsais fascinating. I bet the red maple would be pretty.