Indoor & Outdoor Bonsai

The ancient tradition of bonsai provides for a lifetime of grower’s enjoyment in the care, training, and pruning of the delicate delights. Bonsai trees and bushes can be grown inside or outside depending upon the local climate.

Determining whether to leave your bonsai inside for the summer or move it outside is similar to the considerations involving tropical plants. You must decide if your general geographic location and climate is suitable for outside bonsai life.

Outdoor Bonsai
Outdoor Bonsai

Pick Your Bonsai Carefully

Before making a final decision, determine what type of bonsai plants you have. Next, you should consider the severity of your winter climate. In a northern locale, you may need to protect your bonsai during the harshest months from freezing and cold winds. Finally, observe your outside areas for the amounts of daily sun and shade the plants will have. Determine if one side of your home is better than another to provide for the proper sunlight requirements.

Outdoor Bonsai

If you decide your outside space is suitable for bonsai growth, select an area with adequate light for each individual specimen. During the summer months you may find you will need to water more often depending upon your particular climate. You will need to keep the tree moist, but not soaked. During the winter months you may need to move your plant to an unheated indoor space, for example: breezeway, enclosed porch, or possibly a garage. You will need to continue to water the plants over the winter on a weekly basis. A non-exclusive list of trees suitable for outside life include: maples, elms, ginkgo, crab apple, and hawthorn. As a general rule all bonsai evergreen species are suitable for outside life.

Indoor Bonsai

Some bonsai plants fare better as an indoor specimen than an outdoor plant. Plants which have woody stems will prefer indoor life. As is with other tropical plants, any tropical or subtropical bonsai will be unable to tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees. While they may survive outside in partial shade when the temperatures stay above 50 degrees, they will need to be moved inside if the night time temperature drops below their comfort zone. Indoor bonsai plants require some filtered sunlight. The preferred light would be from a south, west, or east window. Indoor bonsai plants will be intolerant of direct sunlight, so avoid any window without a filter (blinds, curtains, etc.). If the indoor light is not sufficient, consider the use of grow lights for up to 12 hours per day. Bonsai specimens adaptable to indoor life include: azalea, ficus, gardenia and Norfolk pines.

Bonsai plants can provide an owner with years of satisfaction. However, without the proper care these small wonders will not survive. They depend upon their owners for substance and protection from the elements. If you are new to the wonderful world of bonsai, research each plant at for its climate and light requirements. Treat them as you would a child, and nurture them into adulthood. Feed and water them according to their individual needs and they will provide you and your future generations with a source of pride and fulfillment.

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