Growing on You- Zen Garden Bonsai Blog

Up Close (but not too personal): Meet Eugenia Myrtifolia - The Brush Cherry May 31, 2020 10:39

The Brush Cherry is a sub tropical evergreen. It's a vigorous grower. It likes to be warm-hot in the summer and about 60 degrees F in the winter. It does NOT like to be cold. Freeze it = Kill it (trust me, I’m guilty of doing just that)Brush Cherry Flowers

Watering 101 - Are You Dry Yet? May 31, 2020 10:34

Watering is the most difficult part of bonsai care. You can kill your bonsai by overwatering or under watering. The only difference in the end is that generally, under watering will kill them faster.

I think most of the trees that die are compelled to shirk off their mortal coils because they have been methodically drowned. This drowning causes root rot and prevents them from drawing moisture into the plant. Ironically, a tree with root rot caused by overwatering usually has the droopy look of a tree that desperately needs water.

If you think that watering bonsai correctly is harder than watering regular houseplants, you’re right. It is. A big part of that is the pot. Those small, shallow bonsai pots will hang onto water far longer than a taller pot. It's a gravity thing. I’ll bore you to death with the details later.

Most trees will easily tolerate a little drying out (Serissa’s don’t care for it and a Formosa firethorn that dries out will punish you).


The only way you will really know when a tree needs water is to pay attention every day:

  1. Look at the colour of the soil, as it dries out it will look lighter.
  2. Pick up the pot, as it dries out your Bonsai will weigh less.
  3. Work your finger into the soil and feel. Dry soil is warmer and harsher to the touch, and I think we are mostly familiar with wet soil!

Follow these steps consistently, because the differences are all relative.

Remember :

  • Don’t water a tree that already feels wet.
  • Never let your bonsai sit in water for any length of time.
  • When you water, be sure that you’re soaking the entire root ball. It is not unknown for the outside to be soaking wet and the middle of the root ball to be dry and hard as a rock.
  • If you tilt your bonsai to the side, does water run out the drainage hole? If so, let it drain completely before you put it back.

Imagine a washcloth. Soak it. Now, wring it out.Twist every bit of water out if it that you can. How wet does it feel? One to two days after your bonsai soil feels like that, water it. And watch out for the exceptions. If your tree is outside on a hot day it will probably need to be watered every day.

Bugs Killed My Juniper- Meet the Spider Mite May 31, 2020 10:07

Spider mites will haunt the underside of the foliage and are most often given away by the webs you’ll see all over your tree when you put your glasses on and take a close look. If you cared to give the plant a shake over a white surface you’ll probably see these tiny reddish assassins scurrying around. Squash away or wash away! Bonsai pests

Bonsai Basics: LIGHT May 31, 2020 10:03

Every plant needs light. Some need more than others and how much depends on how - and where - that particular tree grows naturally. Bonsai that naturally thrive in full sun like mini jades, bougainvillea and many other flowering bonsai, need more light than more shade tolerant varieties like ficus and schefflera. 

The Emergency Repot! May 27, 2020 20:29

The dog’s tail knocked a small pot right off the table. The kids were tearing through the living room and your bonsai tree went crashing to the floor.  My personal favorite- the courier company employees decided to play soccer with my carefully, even lovingly boxed bonsai tree on its way to you and you opened the box to find a pot in pieces. What's Next?

Ficus - Popular Indoor Bonsai April 21, 2015 22:38

The Tigerbark Fig is a particularly easy and forgiving ficus.  This is a great beginner tree, because it will forgive mistakes, but if you give it what it likes - it will positively thrive.

Let's talk about Junipers April 21, 2015 22:31

The Juniper is the number one choice among bonsai buyers, particularly as gifts and beginner trees.  It isn't surprising considering that when you think of a bonsai tree, the image that usually springs to mind is of an evergreen tree and of all the evergreen trees, nothing grows as easily as a Juniper.Juniper procumbens nana

Chinese Elms - They Might Just be My Favorites April 2, 2015 15:48

Whenever I want to introduce someone to what I love about bonsai, I show them my favorite Chinese Elm.  If they didn't understand the attraction of bonsai already, this little beauty sells them on it every time! Ulmus parvifolia is an outstanding bonsai choice and one that belongs in every collection.