The practice of growing Bonsai trees is approximately 1,500 years old. It is a Japanese adaptation of an ancient art form practiced in China known as “penzai.”
The Japanese Bonsai tradition is the art of recreating miniatures of real-life trees and their surrounding environments (such as shrubs and grass).
Once created, a well-cared-for Bonsai tree can live for hundreds of years. The oldest Bonsai trees alive today range between 800 and 1,000 years old.
But, how to grow a Bonsai tree, that is the question. Read on to find out!
Table of Contents
How to Grow a Bonsai Tree from a Cutting
Bonsai trees are created by removing small pieces of living trees in order to clone them. Taking a cutting from a “parent” tree is the most straightforward and surest way to create one. Shaping it, planting it, and lots of patience are also involved in properly growing a Bonsai tree from a cutting.
1. Take a Bonsai Cutting
To begin, you need to take a cutting from a healthy bonsai tree. You could also opt to buy one, if available.
If taking a cutting yourself, start by selecting a strong and healthy branch from the desired parent tree. Make sure the branch you select has plenty of fresh green growth on it.
Once you’ve chosen a branch, use shears and make a 45-degree cut. As soon as the cut is made, stick the cutting in a container with water. A mason jar or flower vase works perfectly.
2. Plant the Bonsai Cutting
Next, plant your fresh cutting in a mixture of organic compost and soil. But first, line the bottom of the container with fine gravel and/or sand.
Bonsai trees don’t grow well in normal potting soil or mixes.
For the best results in growing a Bonsai tree from a cutting, you will definitely need a specific soil mix: organic compost, pumice, akadama, lava rock, and fine gravel.
The container’s content should have a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5.
The mixture of a proper pH level and rich but extremely well-draining “soil” ensures optimal root development and a healthy growth rate.
3. Practice Proper Bonsai Aftercare
Regularly water the Bonsai cutting directly after planting it. A lack of proper watering may result in failure to initiate root growth.
After the first two to three weeks of watering a Bonsai cutting, continue watering the fledgling tree whenever the top of its soil looks dried out.
Also, make sure that the new Bonsai tree is positioned somewhere with plenty of natural light. A south-facing window is more than ideal.
At any rate, Bonsai trees should be exposed to at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day.
4. Have Patience
Cuttings will develop roots in about two weeks but it could take a few years before the new tree is ready for pruning and shaping it the way you’d like. Patience is a key virtue in practicing the art of creating and caring for Bonsai trees.
Make sure to check on your Bonsai cutting multiple times each day during the first few weeks. If it looks too dry, water it. If the soil is still moist, and the tree looks drier than normal, try reducing the amount of sun it’s getting.
Keeping a keen eye on it for the next few months will help train you to properly care for its needs. Remember, patience is a virtue, and it is very much needed when growing Bonsai trees from cuttings.
After Care Tips for Bonsai Trees
1. Keep Watering
Regularly checking the soil and watering it when it seems dry is the best way to prevent underwatering issues. It’s also the best way to help your cutting develop and grow roots.
If you’ve set up your soil mix properly, the excess water will drain quickly so don’t be afraid to really lay the water on if the tree asks for it.
2. Start Pruning
Maintain a Bonsai tree by pruning it, cutting branches, and moving yellow leaves as needed. Depending on the shape you’re going for, you may consider utilizing wire to help control the desired direction(s) of branch growth.
Don’t be shy with trimming your new tree either, look at it as an act of encouragement. Pruning your Bonsai tree helps promote new growth, including in the root system.
3. Upkeep the Soil
Bonsais require a rather different type of soil than other houseplants, as mentioned above. That said, if you don’t have the means to secure those specific ingredients, it is still possible to make a suitable growing medium.
Bonsai soils need to be rich and well-draining. In a pinch, potting mix or organic soil, mixed with a handful of rocks and a bit of clay will do.
Fertilizer isn’t necessary for growing a bonsai from a cutting, but it can help once the tree is mature. Other than that, the most important thing about Bonsai soil is simply to keep it well-watered.
Why does it seem so hard to grow a Bonsai tree from cuttings?
Bonsai trees look delicate and fragile at first glance, and in a way maybe they are. After all, you perform surgery on a live tree, clone a miniature version of it, and shape it into your artful vision of how it should be.
Bottom line? Taking care of Bonsai trees requires a certain amount of knowledge about proper care, and taking them seriously. Otherwise, they will dry out and die off very quickly.
FAQs About Growing Bonsai Trees from Cuttings
How long do Bonsai cuttings take the root?
If you stick a cutting in we—prepared soil, water it properly, and give it enough sunlight, its roots will start to grow in about two weeks. You should water it heavily for the first two to three weeks to encourage and support new root growth. Afterwards, water it as needed depending on indicators from the soul.
What kind of tree do I need to get cuttings for Bonsai?
Almost any perrenial woody-stemmed tree or shrubs that produce solid branches is capable of producing a Bonsai tree. Juniper, Pine, and Cedar are among the most popular types of trees used for taking Bonsai cuttings. Among the more traditional types of Bonsai parent trees are the Japanese Red Maple and Japanese Flowering Cherry.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.