Bonsai Trees, Growing The Smallest Trees On Planet Earth

Bonsai trees refer to the “art” of growing miniature trees to “look” like full grown trees. The practice of bonsai originated in China, where groups of trees were grown and kept small in miniature landscape scene never more than 5 feet across. The practice migrated to Japan were only a single tree was grown as a bonsai.

Famous Bonsai Trees

There are many famous bonsai trees around the world that are considered to be superb specimens of the art form. These trees have been cultivated for many years and are often highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts. Here are a few examples of famous bonsai trees:

  • The "Bonsai Kobayashi": This is a famous bonsai tree that was created by master bonsai artist Masahiko Kimura, also known as "Mr. Bonsai" who made it his life’s work to grow the smallest trees on earth. It is a juniper tree that has been trained to look like a miniature forest, with several trunks and branches that intertwine to create a beautiful and intricate design. This bonsai tree is valued at over $1 million.
  • The "Goshin": This is a famous bonsai tree that was created by John Naka, one of the most influential bonsai artists in the United States. The Goshin, which means "protector of the spirit" in Japanese, is a juniper tree that was planted in honor of the 54 US soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. It is valued at over $250,000.
  • The "Ficus Retusa": Another one of the smallest trees on earth is a famous bonsai tree that is also known as the "Taipei Bonsai". It is a Ficus tree that was cultivated by the Taiwan Bonsai Association and has won many awards for its beautiful design and intricate root structure. This bonsai tree is valued at over $1 million.
  • The "White Pine": This is a famous bonsai tree that was created by bonsai master Kimura. As one of the smallest trees on earth, it is a white pine tree that has been trained to look like a miniature version of a full-grown tree, with a beautiful trunk and branches that curve and twist in all directions. This bonsai tree is valued at over $90,000.

These famous bonsai trees are just a few examples of the many incredible small tree specimens that exist around the world. While they may command high prices, they are also a testament to the skill and dedication of the artists who created them, and the beauty and wonder of the art of bonsai.

How To Prune The Smallest Tree On Earth

Pruning a bonsai tree can be a delicate process, but with careful attention and patience, it can be done effectively. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to prune a bonsai tree:

  • Assess the tree: The first step in pruning a bonsai tree is to take a good look at the tree and assess which branches need to be removed. You should be looking for branches that are growing in the wrong direction, those that are diseased, those that are too thick, or those that are crossing over each other.
  • Choose your tools: Once you have assessed the tree, choose the appropriate pruning tools. A pair of bonsai shears, wire cutters, and concave cutters will be needed to prune the smallest trees on earth.
  • Cut away dead or damaged branches: Using your bonsai shears, cut away any dead or damaged branches. These branches can be identified by their brown or black color.
  • Cut back long branches: Identify any branches that are growing too long and cut them back to a length that is appropriate for the tree's size and style. Use the concave cutters to make a clean cut.
  • Remove crossing branches: If you notice any branches that are crossing over each other, remove the weaker of the two. This will help to ensure that each branch has enough space and light to grow properly.
  • Thin out dense areas: If you notice that certain areas of the tree are too dense, use your bonsai shears to thin out the branches. This will allow more light and air to circulate, which will promote healthy growth.
  • Apply wound paste: After pruning, apply wound paste to the cut areas of the tree to prevent infections and promote healing.
  • Monitor growth: After pruning, monitor the growth of the tree carefully. You may need to prune again in a few weeks or months, depending on how the tree responds.

Remember that pruning a bonsai tree is an ongoing process. Regular pruning will help to maintain the tree's shape and health, and it will also promote healthy growth.

Today, bonsai trees are grown all over the world. Stunning specimens, some of them several hundred years old can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Growing bonsai trees can be extremely meditative, which may explain why persons of quiet persuasion adopt the practice.

Bonsai Trees, Saving Endangered Trees Video

video about bonsai trees

Growing Bonsai Trees

Simply planting a tree seedling in a pot does not grow a bonsai tree; it would quickly become root bound and die the second or third year. Growing bonsai trees requires special training, a keen eye and the patience of “Job”.

Growing Bonsai Indoors

The first step for growing bonsai indoors is that you need to choose a suitable species of tree. Some trees, such as Ficus, Chinese Elm, and Jade, are well-suited for indoor environments as they can tolerate low light and dry indoor air.

Next, you will need to provide your bonsai with the proper growing conditions. This includes proper lighting, humidity levels, and soil moisture. Bonsai trees require a lot of light, so you may need to provide additional lighting with grow lights. You should also place your bonsai near a window that receives bright, indirect sunlight.

Maintaining proper humidity levels is also important for indoor bonsai trees. You can increase humidity by placing a tray of water near your bonsai, or by using a humidifier. Additionally, you should regularly mist your bonsai to keep the foliage moist.

Finally, it's important to choose the right potting soil and fertilizer for your bonsai tree. Bonsai trees require a well-draining soil that allows for proper root development. You should also use a slow-release fertilizer specifically designed for bonsai trees.

With proper care and attention, you can successfully grow bonsai trees indoors and enjoy the beauty of these miniature trees in your home.

Growing Bonsai Outdoors

If you choose to grow bonsai outdoors, you will need to consider the climate and weather conditions in your area. Some species of bonsai trees are more suited to specific climates and may not thrive in extreme temperatures or harsh weather conditions. You will need to research and select bonsai tree species that are well-suited to the climate in your area.

You will also need to provide your bonsai with proper care and maintenance. This includes watering, fertilizing, pruning, and protection from pests and disease. Additionally, you should consider the placement of your bonsai tree in your outdoor environment. Bonsai trees need sufficient sunlight, so you will need to place your tree in a location that receives the appropriate amount of sunlight for your particular species of bonsai.

Overall, growing bonsai outdoors can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, as it allows you to create a beautiful, natural miniature landscape in your own backyard.

Growing bonsai trees teaches a person to spiritually manifest the future look of tree and apply strategic root, limb and bud pruning to achieve that vision. A bonsai tree is typically grown in special “air-root” pot. Several hundred openings spaced about the circumference of the pot allow the passthrough of ambient air, which prunes the roots keeping them small and compact. Every second year, the tree is removed from the air pot and its roots are drastically pruned back and then replanted back into the pot. This pruning technique enables the plant to grow indefinitely in the one pot. Inflexible wire supports are sometimes used to tether and train the branches of a bonsai into a desired shape.

Meditative And Transcendental Bonsai

Growing bonsai trees can indeed be a spiritual experience that is both meditative and transcendental. Bonsai cultivation requires a lot of patience and attention to detail, which can help to quiet the mind and promote a sense of inner peace.

There is something inherently calming and grounding about being in nature and caring for a living being, and bonsai cultivation offers a way to bring a piece of nature into our homes or workplaces. The act of pruning and shaping a bonsai tree can be a form of moving meditation, helping to quiet the mind and promote mindfulness.

Additionally, the process of growing and caring for a bonsai tree can be a deeply rewarding experience, as it allows us to witness the beauty of growth and transformation over time. It can help us to connect with the natural world and appreciate the simple things in life.

Overall, growing bonsai trees can be a wonderful way to nourish the soul and promote a sense of inner peace and wellbeing.

The Perfect Sanctuary Tree

Although clearly not thought of as a commercial timber plantation tree, bonsai has a critical role to play in the world as we find it today. Land clear agriculture, over logging and climate change have had devastating effects on our forests leaving several trees threatened and endangered and a few on the verge of extinction.

the art of growing bonsai
landscape bonsai tree art potted bonsai tree

Saving Trees From Extinction

You can help save these trees from extinction by making a small donation to our “Bonsai Sanctuary”, a miniature tree plantation that grows endangered trees from seed collected from around the world. Trees raised in the bonsai style are grown to bear seed, which will be stored in a tree seed bank used as a repository to re-establish a species when the need arises and eventhough stored seeds were collected from miniature trees, they will grow into full size trees once they are sown into soil in the wild.

Here are just a few of the trees your donation would help us protect, preserve and grow.

Ebony Bonsai

African blackwood, or black ebony, is on the verge of extinction in its natural habitat, the plains of Saharan Africa. Exploited for more than a hundred years there are few trees left. It has become so rare and so expensive that tree poachers take even the smallest tree seedlings if they can find them.

  • "The Black Bonsai" by Hugo Zamorategui: This is a famous black ebony bonsai that was created by Peruvian artist Hugo Zamorategui. The tree is sculpted in the shape of a dragon and features intricate detailing and texture. The black color of the ebony wood gives the bonsai a striking and dramatic appearance.
  • "The Black Dragon" by Salvatore Liporace: Another black ebony bonsai that features a dragon design, this creation by Italian artist Salvatore Liporace is a stunning example of the possibilities of working with this rare material. The deep black color of the wood makes the tree appear almost magical and otherworldly.
  • "The Black Beauty" by Gustavo Almeida: This Brazilian artist created a black ebony bonsai that is known as "The Black Beauty". The tree features an elegant and graceful design that is complemented by the rich, dark color of the ebony wood.
  • "The Black Swan" by Shuhin Kobayashi: This bonsai was created by Japanese artist Shuhin Kobayashi and features a unique design that is inspired by the graceful and elegant movements of a swan. The black ebony wood gives the tree a sleek and sophisticated appearance.
The Black Dragon by Salvatore Liporace

Pine Bonsai

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus): The Eastern White Pine is found in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. It is threatened by habitat loss due to development. Other species of pine are are the endangered list and include, Japanese Black Pine and Japanese White Pine.

  • Hiroshima Survivor Pine: This pine bonsai is a Japanese black pine that survived the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945 and is a classic example of one of the smallest trees on earth. It is now located in the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington D.C. and is considered a symbol of hope and resilience.
  • Yamaki Pine: This Japanese white pine is estimated to be over 400 years old and survived the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. It was donated to the National Arboretum in Washington D.C. by the Yamaki family.
  • Goshin: This is a famous bonsai pine that was created by John Naka, a renowned bonsai master. Goshin, which means "protector of the spirit," is a group planting of eleven trees, representing the eleven grandchildren of Naka's family.
  • The White Pine: This bonsai pine is over 400 years old and was imported from Japan in 1905. This small tree is currently on display at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.
  • The Bonsai Exhibition Garden in Shunka-en: This famous bonsai garden in Tokyo, Japan, contains many beautiful bonsai pines, including a 400-year-old black pine and a 500-year-old red pine.
  • The Kokufu-ten Exhibition: This is the most prestigious bonsai exhibition in Japan and features many famous bonsai pines, including a black pine that was over 400 years old at the time of its display in 2018.
white pine bonsai

Birch Bonsai

There are several birch tree species that are currently endangered or threatened including grey birch, dwarf birch, paper birch, red leaf birch and yellow birch.

  • The Upright White Birch: This is a beautiful example of a white birch (Betula pendula) bonsai, with its signature white bark and delicate leaves. It was created by prominent bonsai artist Masahiko Kimura.
  • The Raft Birch: This birch bonsai, also created by Masahiko Kimura, is a unique style of bonsai in which the tree is trained to grow horizontally along the soil, creating the illusion of a "raft" of trees. The Raft Birch features several young birch trees growing in this style.
  • The Dwarf Birch: Betula nana, or dwarf birch, is a small shrub-like birch that is native to arctic and alpine regions. This type of birch can make a beautiful and unusual bonsai, with its small size and delicate leaves.
  • The Paper Birch: Betula papyrifera, or paper birch, is a beautiful tree with white bark that peels away in thin layers, giving it its name. While not as common in bonsai as other types of birch, the paper birch can make a striking and unique bonsai.
endangered round leaf birch bonsai tree

Ash Bonsai

Ash trees are currently facing a significant threat due to the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that has devastated ash tree populations in North America. As a result, many species of ash trees are currently endangered or threatened including green ash, black ash, white ash, and European ash.

  • The Aged Bonsai Ash: This is a beautiful and rare example of a bonsai ash tree. The tree is estimated to be around 200 years old and was originally from China. It is currently on display at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington D.C.
the aged ash tree

Maple Bonsai

There are several species of maple trees that are considered endangered or threatened due to habitat loss, climate change, and other environmental factors. Examples include Big Leaf maple, Florida maple, Southern sugar maple, and nikkio maple, a species native to Japan.

  • The "Korean Hornbeam" Maple: This bonsai maple tree is one of the most famous examples of a hornbeam maple bonsai tree in the world. It was created by Japanese bonsai master Kimura Masahiko and is known for its unique trunk and stunning fall foliage.
  • The "Beni-maiko" Maple: This is a famous bonsai maple tree that was created by bonsai master Saburo Kato in the 1960s. It is known for its vibrant red leaves, which turn a brilliant shade of crimson in the fall.
  • The "Japanese Maple" Bonsai: This is a classic bonsai maple tree that is known for its delicate, lace-like foliage and stunning fall colors. It is a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts around the world and is widely available for purchase.
  • The "Burgundy Lace" Maple: This is another famous bonsai maple tree that is known for its delicate leaves and stunning fall colors. It is a popular choice for bonsai enthusiasts who are looking for a maple tree with a unique, eye-catching appearance.
Japanese maple bonsai tree

Flowering Bonsai

Many species of flowering trees are currently facing threats from habitat loss, climate change, and other factors. Here are a few examples of endangered and threatened flowering trees: Bigleaf Magnolia, Cucumber Tree, Eastern Redbud, Franklinia, and Katsura Tree, a tree native to Japan.

  • Azalea Bonsai: Azaleas are a popular choice for bonsai because of their vibrant and long-lasting blooms. There are many different varieties of azaleas, and they can be trained in a variety of bonsai styles.
  • Cherry Blossom Bonsai: Cherry blossom trees, also known as sakura, are a popular subject in Japanese art and culture. Cherry blossom bonsai are prized for their delicate pink or white flowers, and are often used in traditional Japanese bonsai displays and represent one of the most beautiful smallest trees on earth.
  • Wisteria Bonsai: Wisteria trees are known for their stunning, cascading blooms, which can create a beautiful effect in bonsai form. Wisteria bonsai are often trained in the cascade or semi-cascade style.
  • Crabapple Bonsai: Crabapple trees are known for their stunning spring blooms, which can range in color from pink to white. Crabapple bonsai can be trained in a variety of styles, including the upright and informal upright styles.
  • Bougainvillea Bonsai: Bougainvillea trees are native to South America and are prized for their colorful, papery flowers. Bougainvillea bonsai can be trained in a variety of styles, and their flowers can range in color from pink to purple to red.
Bougainvillea bonsai tree