Are you a houseplant lover who is looking for ideas for more exotic plants to expand your collection? Or perhaps you find that none of the traditional houseplants suit your taste?
If that is the case then you might be wondering if bonsai trees are an option and whether they can be grown inside your home or office. For those of you who are impatient the short answer is – yes, but if you want to know more about bonsai as houseplants, in this post we’ll provide you with more detailed answers. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Can bonsais grow indoors?
The fact that bonsai are quite literally miniature trees can often mislead people into thinking that just like wild trees they have to be grown strictly outdoors. In reality bonsai trees can easily survive indoors, in fact some tropical species thrive better indoors due to the consistently warmer temperature and lack of wind that can knock them over or break their branches.
There are some evergreen and mountain species of bonsai that don’t do particularly well inside because the warm temperature makes their leaves shrivel. But as long as you avoid getting an evergreen bonsai, you still have a wide variety of species to choose from. A popular choice for most beginners is the Chinese Elm bonsai.
What are popular choices for indoor bonsai?
There is a pretty good variety of bonsai species to choose from when it comes to indoor grown bonsai trees. By far one of the most commonly preferred types is Chinese Elm, but if that’s not to your taste there’s plenty of other options.
Another good tree species that can thrive indoors is Carmona, also known as Fukien tea tree, which is native to the region of Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. Even though it’s found mostly in tropical regions, it can also be grown inside in a warm south-facing room.
Ginseng Ficus is a great option for an indoor bonsai as well. Bonsais of this species tend to be quite small so it won’t take up too much space either. If that’s not to your taste, Pachira Aquatica is another bonsai type to look at. This species has a great advantage for beginners because it needs little to no pruning and shaping.
Light, water and temperature requirements
The ideal growth conditions would really vary between species and depend almost entirely on the type of bonsai you get. Generally speaking, however, most indoor bonsai species are tropical which means they would require a more moderate temperature and plenty of light. Avoid putting your bonsai right next to the window though, especially if you have a radiator under the window as the hot air and sun will dry out the soil quicker and can also be bad for the leaves of your miniature tree.
Watering bonsai trees is a bit different to regular houseplants, because each tree has different needs and you can’t water them on a schedule. The best practice is checking if your bonsai needs any water by feeling the soil. If it still feels damp wait a day or two before watering, but if it’s starting to dry out then go ahead and give your bonsai some water.
Bonsai tree in the office
A bonsai tree on your desk can brighten up your work space and make it feel more homely, however, keep in mind that bonsai may need more light than other houseplants and not all offices have the right conditions. If your workplace has big windows and plenty of natural light reaches your desk then a small Carmona or Ginseng bonsai might be the ideal desk plant buddy for you. However, if natural light is an issue in your office it might be a better idea to stick to traditional office plants such as spider plant or succulents.
Another thing to consider if you want to keep a bonsai at your office desk is watering. As we already mentioned, you can’t water bonsai trees on a schedule so it can be tricky to ensure your tree doesn’t die from dehydration. If you’re working in the office every day that won’t be as big of an issue because you can give your tree a bit of water before you leave work for the weekend, just to make sure the soil will remain moist enough through the weekend. But if you’re in the office only certain days per week, it might not be the best idea to get a bonsai tree as a desk plant.
Bonsai trees can make great houseplants if you have the right conditions and are willing put some effort into taking care for them. If you’re new to houseplants and want to understand better how to take care of your bonsai, we’d recommend watching a few tutorials on YouTube or doing some reading on the subject. There are many bonsai specialists out there who share their experience online and who you can learn from.
Just like with any houseplant, the basics are temperature, light and water. As long as the room isn’t too hot or too cold for your tree and it gets enough light and water, you’ll watch your bonsai thrive. Remember that trees take a lot longer to grow then other plants so be patient with your bonsai tree.