Where To Place Your Bonsai

So, you have a beautiful bonsai tree but where do you put it? Figuring out where to place your bonsai tree for optimal growth isn’t a 5 minute job as it depends on a lot of variables including the climate, the tree species and the season. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know… 

Factors That Need To Be Considered

  • Climate – The climate of the country you’re from is a large factor in deciding where your bonsai needs to be placed.
  • Species Of Tree – This is by far the most important factor as different species require different conditions, hence why there are ‘indoor’ bonsai and ‘outdoor’ bonsai. It’s pretty self explanatory providing you know/can work out which species of tree you are growing. Growing an indoor bonsai outdoors can have drastic consequences for the tree, especially in the colder months. Likewise, an outdoor bonsai probably won’t last too long growing indoors – however, bringing them indoors during the worst cold snaps is very wise.
  • Season – The time of the year definitely can dictate where you should be growing your bonsai tree.

Outdoor Bonsai Placement

As bonsai are still trees, the majority (besides some sub-tropical species), will need to be grown outdoors for all, if not the majority of the calendar year. If you put a lot of effort into trying to keep your tree too ‘precious’ and remove it from the elements, it can actually have a negative effect as the tree will be a lot weaker than if you had let it strengthen up.

It’s no secret that bonsai trees need huge amounts of light to keep growing and remain healthy, so finding a spot outdoors that will get a lot of light throughout the day is pretty key. Also, bare in mind that you don’t want somewhere that is too in the open as vicious winds are not the best thing for a bonsai tree. During the summer months, if you live in a hot climate, you’ll want to provide the bonsai with an area that gets at least partial shade, coupled with very frequently checking the soil moisture as it will dry out very fast.

Indoor Bonsai Placement 

Growing a bonsai indoors is, in my opinion, trickier then growing one outdoors due to the fact that bonsai are still ‘normal’ trees. They still require a huge amount of light to stay healthy and keep growing, which, for most areas indoors, isn’t really all that possible without using artificial grow lamps. If you have a sub-tropical species that needs to be grown indoors due to the climate of where you live, you need to find a window that gets the most amount of light during the day and position it there. Although it would be amazing to keep a bonsai on your work desk, the chance of it actually surviving there is pretty slim and not worth the risk.

Although sub-tropical bonsai trees will need some warmth and humidity, placing them next to or above a frequently used radiator can be pretty detrimental to the health of the tree as well. When I first began the art of bonsai, I nearly accidentally killed my Chinese Elm by doing exactly that during the winter months, however, luckily I was able to nurse it back to health. If you are growing an indoor tree, it’s advised to pick yourself up a humidity tray.

If you’re a cat owner, be careful with growing a bonsai inside the house as certain types of bonsai tree can be harmful to cats. For more specific information about which species, check this article.

In Short…

  • Figure out if your species of bonsai is an indoor or an outdoor tree 
  • If indoor, find an area that gets a huge amount of light throughout the day and doesn’t have a radiator pumping out heat next to it. Get yourself a humidity tray, keep an eye on the soil moisture and general health of the tree every day. If the species allows it, take it outdoors during the summer season and place it in a partially shaded area, making sure you keep a very close eye on watering. 
  • If outdoor, find an area that gets a lot of sunlight, out of the direct wind. Ensure that you’re constantly checking the soils water levels, even though the tree is outdoors. During the hotter months, move the tree into an area that has partial shade and you’ll most likely need to increase the amount of times per week you’re watering the bonsai. During the colder months, if there is a huge cold snap you’ll want to move the bonsai into a cold but dry room that still gets a lot of light but where the tree won’t get effected as much by the frost. 

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