Success with indoor bonsai trees

By July 1, 2017 No Comments


While working on an online version of ‘The Fundamental Bonsai Course’ that will be coming out soon, prepared by Kengai Bonsai Garden, I came along a topic that I found it is very important to share with you, so today’s blog was created.  We will be discussing about bonsai trees that can be kept indoors, the how’s and why’s this could happen.

Indoor bonsai trees

Strangely enough, trees were created to live in nature, but some nurseries will inform you when buying particular species of bonsai trees, that they should or can be kept indoors.  This brings up some questions.
Why can this happen?
How can a tree adopt itself to a different condition?
Can photo synthesis, an important aspects to all trees and plants, happen when kept inside?
In this blog we will be giving answers to these questions and other vital information to understand why some plants can ke kept indoors, and maintain a healthy life style.

Tropical trees

By having a good look at which trees nurseries indicate as indoor bonsai species, we will notice that the species are all tropical trees, that means native to a tropical zone.  This is the first indication we have to our previous questions.  Indoor bonsai trees has something to do with the tropics.  This indication will move us to inspect what does the tropical zone means.
Tropical climate means climate in zones closer to or on the equatorial line, were the weather has these important conditions: hot and humid, and an abundant rainfalls which forms part of this weather.
Tropical zone indication
Bonsai trees that can adopt to the indoors conditions needs a tropical climate, they hate harsh and extreme cold conditions.  This does not mean that all of our house should be turned into a tropical zone, into a green house living apartment, but it means that the micro climate close to the bonsai tree should be close to a tropical one.
What does micro climate means?  One can feel that in our house, one can feel different conditions, such as a warm area close to an open large window, some draft in the corridor area, and a humid area in a dark spot were natural light is not present.  These different areas with different climate conditions are called micro climates.  So in relation to bonsai, these micro climate, say, that meter square area, describes the climate conditions in a particular area were the bonsai tree will be placed.

Creating tropical micro climate

So our conclusion to some of the answers is that the first thing in having success with our indoor bonsai trees, is to create their favorite climate condition: a tropical micro climate.  Our objective is to create this kind of climate, tropical micro climate in our house.  If we manage to do so, we will be on the right track to succeed with our bonsai.
Let’s tackle one point at a time.  We just mentioned that in the tropical zone, the weather is warm and humid, and very rainy.  Frost and cold weather does not happen in this areas.  So this is what we target to achieve for our bonsai, although  it might seems very difficult to achieve.  Bonsai trees are meant to be admired, so people having their first bonsai as a present or bought from a nursery will place it on the kitchen or bathroom window sill, while others will place it in the corridor.
Let’s go straight to the point, these locations are great areas to admire a statuette, or some man made items, but not a bonsai.  The area were an indoor bonsai should be kept is the area that has all the criteria necessary to keep it in its native climate:  tropical climate.
Why not the kitchen/bathroom window sill?   Although light might might be abundant on the kitchen window sill for the winter time, but in hot summer day, the temperature behind the window glass will get hotter and this extreme hot temperature will damage the tree and starts to let fall its leaves.  On the other hand, less natural light might not be present when the bonsai is kept on the bathroom sill, resulting in long branches, trying to fetch more natural light.  In corridors, draft might be present, and this draft will dry away the necessary humidity for the indoor bonsai trees.

Creating tropical climate

Areas with a nice natural light and areas were draft can be controlled can be found, but finding areas which have all the three important needs: Warm temperature, no draft and humidity, tends to be very difficult.  Humidity can be created by misting the bonsai tree frequently.  Water droplets and warm temperature will create the necessary humidity.  Another way to create humidity around the bonsai tree is to place the bonsai pot over a shallow water container.  The pot should not touch the water level.  The combination between the water in the container and the warm temperature will create this humidity.
Keep in mind that in the passage way of air conditioner draft is another place to avoid.  The air conditioner will dries out the tree’s water and leaves.


Keeping in mind these three important factors: warm temperature, humidity and no draft, look around in the house were these conditions can be found.  Note that by moving the bonsai slightly, can create the difference non tropical climate to an ideal tropical micro climate.  One last tip is:  Leaves shows an indication if the tree is healthy or not.  Leaf droppings is a sign that the tree micro climate might not be ideal.
Martin Abela

Author Martin Abela

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