How To Grow Your Bonsai Collection
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You’ve made it! It’s our final installment in the Office Executive series. To end our journey, we’re going to look at how you can grow your bonsai collection. In essence, there are free and costly methods, and we’ll highlight several in these two categories.
Of course, it depends on how much space you have at work and home, and whether the former will let you keep a mass selection of bonsais. We hope you enjoy this last chapter.
Here are the topics in this article:
Here are the topics in this article:
Researching About Various Species
Before you embark on your quest to growing your bonsai collection, you need to perform adequate research. In each of our Office Executive articles, we’ve given you short summaries of species we believe would work for various situations. Here are some factors you need to consider before choosing any of them.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
When it comes to your office environment, you’ll obviously be searching for bonsai species that you can keep indoors. There are some bonsais that work perfectly well in these environments, so make sure you do your research on which ones. They’ll mostly be ones that perform well in low-light conditions unless you place them on the windowsill.
You won’t exactly be limited to growing bonsais indoors. If you’re lucky, you might have a courtyard or a balcony where you can keep it at your workplace. While there are many species that thrive outdoors, you’ll need to keep a close watch on how the peak sunlight affects the foliage.
Low vs. Full Sunlight
Closely related to indoor and outdoor bonsais is whether they need partial or full sunlight. We know that the trees in the wild mostly have complete sunlight all day long, but the same can’t be said for your small trees with fragile leaves and branches. They need a bit more extra care.
In all of our species care sheets, we specify how much sunlight each bonsai type needs. If you don’t find the information on Bonsai Alchemist, we’re sure you’ll find it somewhere online. How much light you receive in your office will impact which trees you’ll aim for.
Low vs. High Maintenance
As technology rises and we humans develop more systems and projects, we find less time for ourselves. While we encourage you to obtain various bonsai types, you also need to consider how much maintenance is required in terms of design and structure. Do you need to do heavy pruning, or can you get away with a clip here and there?
You also need a space to do the trimming. It can become quite messy, and we’re sure you don’t want leaves and soil all over your desk. So, you’ll also need a suitable area to look after your bonsai tree.
Light vs. Heavy Watering
Not all bonsai species drink the same amount of water. If you plan to take some vacation time, you also don’t want to lock your thirsty trees in your office with no watering. There are many trees you can obtain that are drought resistant, so you don’t need to stress if you miss a few days.
If you insist on getting bonsais that love having new water daily, you need to put a plan in place for keeping them happy. Chat to your colleagues and see who’s willing to share the responsibility with you.
Flowering vs. Non-Flowering
Another consideration is if you’re aiming for bonsais that tend to flower in the heart of summer. They put on a stunning display and invite your colleagues to stare at them every time they pay your office a visit. We understand if you want to add these to your bonsai collection, as we love blooms, too.
However, there are reasons you may want non-flowering bonsais. Firstly, if you or your colleagues have allergies or they close your chest. Also, flowering trees demand loads of sunlight and feeding to remain in bloom, so you may not opt for them if you don’t have much natural light.
Most bonsai species go through a dormant period that begins in autumn and completely shuts down in winter. Then you see evergreens that remain the same color all year round without losing any of the leaves. Every season will call for different requirements, and it’s not the same for all trees.
Why this factor is significant is if you have air conditioning in your office. With you cranking up the heat, your bonsai may not realize it’s meant to go dormant. It needs this period of rest to store energy for the coming spring. You’ll need to see how the AC affects the seasonal changes.
Location and Hardiness Zone
We know that there are many exotic bonsais you’d love to own; believe us, we have the same obsession. The problem is that some species only thrive in a specific climate. If you bring a tree that loves extreme humidity to a dry region, you’re setting it up for failure unless you have a humidifier in the office.
It’s best you check in which hardiness zone you live in and which species do well there. You’ll also need to see if the bonsai will survive moving from one region to another. If you see some leaves fall, don’t stress; it may just be going through a transitional period.
Now that you know some elements you need to research, let’s get to where you can buy bonsais. We have some advice for each of them, with specific criteria you need to take into consideration.
Taking a trip to your local store can be a fun experience, even if you’re an introvert. There are so many species you’ll find on the shelves or in an outdoor area, and you can inspect the various plant parts to see if the bonsai is healthy. You’ll also get a sense of the energy you feel from them.
There’s usually someone around who can guide you on which species will work well in your office. The only advice we have to offer is that you take what they say with a pinch of salt. Some of them are merely out to make a sale, and you may end up with a bonsai that won’t survive your workplace. Perform your research before you buy anything.
The local store is also an excellent place to see what tools, equipment, food, and pesticides they have for sale. You can look into various wire thicknesses and get an eye for the different cutters on the market first-hand. It’s much better than online shopping, as you can use all your senses for the ultimate experience.
Local Community Market
As an alternative, you can head to the local community market to see if you can grab any sales. The bonsais are generally cheaper than the stores, as the sellers don’t have massive profit margins to cover overheads. Also, many of them have propagated them by hand, so the only costs for them are the container, soil, and nutrients to keep the bonsai alive.
A word of caution: make sure the bonsai has roots. There are some scaly sellers who simply take thick cuttings and make them look like bonsai trees, but they haven’t developed any roots yet. You might end up with a dead tree in a few week’s time. Also, ensure you sterilize any tools you purchase.
While we hesitate to grow our bonsai collection by buying online, there’s no reason you can’t. As a matter of fact, we’ve recommended several trees from markets like Amazon where we’ve seen some quality trees. There are some decent sellers on these platforms, and you can check the reviews to see who can be trusted.
We encourage you to find nurseries on these online markets that grow various species in massive amounts. They make a living of propagating and cultivating bonsais in the hundreds, which means they have the experience of quality care.
The last method you can try if you want exotic bonsais is ordering them from overseas. Platforms like Amazon are available in various countries, so you may be able to save on shipping. If you have a family member or friend flying abroad, you can always give them some money to buy it for you.
There are two primary concerns with this method. The first is that your or their country may not allow the transport of specific species to enter or leave the land, so you’ll need to check the import/export rules. For instance, there are some trees that are not allowed in California, as an example.
Secondly, the tree might not survive the trip or the climate in your region. This aspect is where the hardiness research we mentioned comes into play. You’ll need to check how well the species can adapt in your area, or you may end up with a dead bonsai in your office.
If you don’t want to pay too much for bonsais, you can grow them for free. It will take longer to develop them into mature trees, so it depends on how much patience you have. Personally, we love this method of growing our bonsai collections.
The one method we truly enjoy performing is growing bonsais from seed. We have an obsession with it, taking seeds from local trees and accepting the challenge of germinating them. There’s a personal achievement involved and, of course, some disappointment when it doesn’t work out.
You can take a walk to the park near your work or even look at trees on sidewalks. If you see berries or pods with seeds, go ahead and take some of them. Remember to do your research on how to propagate them, as you may not be able to accomplish it in your office.
Developing bonsais from seed can be extremely challenging, and there’s always a high risk that it will fail. However, you haven’t lost any money, and you can always try again. It’s a fun experiment to do when you’re on a break from the chaos of work.
A more successful way of growing your bonsai collection for free is via cuttings. There are different methods you can try, such as placing the cut tip in water or soil until the roots form. You can also add root hormone powder to increase your chances of propagation.
Not all bonsai species can develop successfully from cuttings. Also, those that grow roots in water sometimes die a few weeks after you place them in soil. You’ll need to study them carefully and make a judgment on when it’s the right time for potting.
The beauty of cuttings is that you can decide how big you want them to be. You can choose between thin and thick trunks or tall or short stems. For the most part, you’ll need to remove most of the leaves and branches so the nutrients can go into root development.
We’ve tried this method a few times and have only been successful on a handful of them. It takes practice and patience to get it right, and you’ll also need to perfect your technique. In the end, you can develop a new bonsai from a living tree with the roots forming on the branch.
The process entails wrapping a node with moss and plastic after making a shallow cutting in the bark. You can also apply root hormone powder for a better chance of success. After a long waiting period, you can open the wrappings and see if any roots have formed.
If you already have a few trees in your yard or bonsais in your office, you can try the art of grafting. You take a cutting of one species (the scion) and connect it with a part of a tree that’s already established (the stock). In theory, the scion will then feed with the stock and grow on top.
We don’t need to tell you how incredibly difficult this can be to get right. Most people use nut and fruit trees to perform grafting, but there are other species that also work well. You won’t be able to develop new varieties this way, but you can prevent root rot if the scion is prone to the disease.
It may seem like a strange name if you haven’t heard it before, but there are two types of suckers you’ll find on trees. In essence, these are unwanted growths that drain the nutrients from the soil, and you’ll need to increase feeding and watering to keep the plant alive.
The first type is a root sucker. If you’ve ever journeyed on a sidewalk and see baby saplings appearing on the ground by nearby trees, these are root suckers. They are shoots growing directly from the roots of the parent tree. If you’re careful, you can reach into the ground, find the connection to the main root, and severe it to grow the sapling in a pot.
Then you get leaf suckers. Usually, you get one set of leaves or branch that grows from a node on either side, depending on the species. Sometimes, you’ll see a new shoot growing between a node and an already settled branch. This leaf sucker will take nutrients away from the initial branch or leaves, so it’s best to remove it at the base and plant it as a new bonsai.
Finally, feel free to reach out to your local plant or bonsai community to see if they have any of the above for you. Many of them will give seeds, cuttings, or suckers away for free, as it cost them nothing to obtain them from their trees. You can also join social media groups and tell them which species you’re looking for.
As you can see, there are numerous ways you can increase your bonsai collection, either by buying them or growing them yourself. It requires some skill and research, and it also depends on how much space you have in your office or home. In the end, you’ll have a stunning display to improve your productivity, help you study, increase your focus, or help with the general workplace atmosphere.