Introduction: DIY Bonsai From Small Tree

Picture of DIY Bonsai From Small Tree

What you will need..

Small tree (fig, maple, cumquats, pines, are most common)
(I have used a miracle fruit tree, don't use a tree that has large fruit, they won't grow smaller.)

Bonsai Tray



Strong Scissors or garden shears.

Bendable wire (copper or aluminimum) Preferably 2 different sizes.
Large one to anchor plant, smaller guage wire for branch training.

Small rocks

Coco Palm Fibre or fly screen

Optional Spagnum Moss & larger rock for placement on top

Step 1: Lets Start With the Bonsai Pot

Picture of Lets Start With the Bonsai Pot

Cut Coco Palm Fibre or Fly Screen to size that fits the bonsai pot.

Making sure it covers the draining holes.

Then Lightly Cover with small aquarium rocks.

Step 2: Digging Out Your Tree

Picture of Digging Out Your Tree

Dig out the tree.

Wash as much soil from the roots as possible with the hose.

Trim roots, basically anything under 1.2cm in diameter can be cut,
two thirds to three quaters can be removed,
leave mostly large roots basically, but even they can be cut back a bit.

See pictures

Step 3: Anchor Your Plant

Picture of Anchor Your Plant

Starting at the top of ur plant following the main stem down, wind the wire around the stem and partially around the roots, then poke it through the layer of rocks and coco fibre and hole,
pull wire through until it sits how you want. (straight, lean, even cascade if you like.)

Step 4: Nearly Done

Picture of Nearly Done

Okay assuming ur anchor is hooked in over the lip of the pot.

Fill with a 50% soil and 50% vermiculite.
Water with a very fine mist, i use a spray bottle.
Twice in summer, else once a day.
Morning sun only for first few weeks, don't bring inside for more than 2-3 days straight.

Place Sandstone rocks (optional)
Place Spagnum Moss on top, also optional.

Wire any other branches if you want them shaped differently.

Step 5: Prune the Plant

Picture of Prune the Plant

Basically cut off any large leaves.

And Repeat when its older.
Depends of species of tree your working with.
6-18 months rough.


Jazmin33 (author)2017-08-06

Hello Good afternoon,

I just bought a cute little mini kit from Barnes and noble . I read the instructions , and it said to collect twigs and branches.

What I was wondering is where does the Trunk grow from since it does not bring it. Should I just cut a Twig and put the bonsai seeds on top so it could create a a TREE Trunk? Any information will be appreciated PLEASE :)

GardenKitty91 (author)2015-02-02

NO! Bonsai trees are japenese conifers. Period. You can say "DIY indoor tree"... But that doesn't make it a Bonsai tree.

PaulN93 (author)GardenKitty912017-05-08

YES! The art is practiced on all types of trees from all over the the world. Bonsai means "plant in a container", btw. I mean, you can *try* to go convince the Japanese masters that the deciduous trees they have aren't *actually* bonsai - but they'll probably just laugh at you.

JaredL13 (author)GardenKitty912015-12-15

If that's the case how do you explain Japanese maple bonsai trees? It'd be silly to limit it to plants when bonsai is all about the practice. Any plant the tolerates bonsai conditions is obviously bonsai material. I'm pretty sure bonsai history isn't exclusive to Japan, either as I hear ficus bonsai are quite popular in Vietnam.

angcat13 (author)GardenKitty912015-02-25

Bonsai is an art form, not a type of tree.

amishjim (author)2013-08-05

How's your tree doing?

tripoli9 (author)2012-10-21

I want to buy a plant olive bonsai from Amazon and need two weeks to reach the country you can live plant all this time without water?And what is the solution to this problem?I hope to find an answer

Shadowmang (author)2008-09-21

cool project looking forward to the pictures. Don't bonsai trees grow really slow?

Mr E Man (author)Shadowmang2008-09-21

yeah, may take me lots of years before it looks like a complete bonsai you see for sale, which fully look like a shrunk tree. They can be hundreds of years old, not promising to take that many photos though.. lol

PKM (author)Mr E Man2008-09-22

IIRC the bonsai that look like tiny gnarled trees need decades of very careful and patient pruning and "training" to look like that. I found one on a bonsai catalogue website for £2,000 that was over 40 years old. Non-trained bonsai are just small plants a bit like dragon trees, that only take a matter of months or perhaps a few years to grow.

mountainrunner (author)PKM2008-11-14

It is true that bonsai can take decades to develop primary and secondary branch structures, and I've seen reference to 100 years to complete the development cycle. There is one exception to this: chrysanthemum bonsai. A bonsai can be developed from a chrysanthemum in 12 - 14 months. It can be challenging to create them, and more so to keep them going for many years, but it is well worth it in my opinion. If you try to do this, look for varieties identified for bonsai culture - those will small flowers and leaves. I know that King's Mums in the U.S. sells these. If you're looking for good instructions, try to get a copy of The Art of the's out of print, but you might find a used copy through Amazon.

lucinity (author)mountainrunner2011-04-10

I did it with a Marigold before, kept clipping back the flower buds, kept it going for a year, started growing bark!

sculptur (author)2011-02-05

what is "vermiculite"?

lucinity (author)sculptur2011-04-10

I would suggest using google to solve this question

fresnelman90 (author)2011-03-17

I really want to do this with a Red Maple. Do you think it could work?

anishi (author)fresnelman902011-04-02

the Japanese use their local maple so i would think so

achollowell (author)2009-08-14

Thanks for this Instructable I have been interested in doing one with a local tree good job

toil_and_spin (author)2009-07-08

It's good to see a bonsai instructable with some pictures that show that you have great skill at the bonsai art. How's that tree going since you repotted it?

wenpherd (author)2008-11-27

do you have to have a bonsai pot

Mr E Man (author)wenpherd2008-11-28

Helps, but a shallow tray that is not clear or painted so that light can't penetrate the soil with proper drainage will do. I have made these myself from chinese takeaway dishes. Besure to use a outdoor paint, no need to paint the inside, just several layers on the outside of it. Hope this helps.

wenpherd (author)Mr E Man2008-11-28

thank you

clamoring (author)2008-09-27

Um... How is this a bonsai and not just a planted tree? Did I miss the "hot to make a bonsai" step somewhere?

Mr E Man (author)clamoring2008-10-20

Bonsai are trimmed on roots and big leaves, making it over time look smaller. Also the fact it grows in a shallow tray means it gets root bound and thinks its a mature tree.

mountainrunner (author)Mr E Man2008-11-14

Bonsai should never allowed to become root-bound. The tree's roots need to be pruned periodically to keep this from happening. Root pruning will also stimulate the development of very fine feeder roots. Roots should be arranged to radiate out from the tree trunk.

clamoring (author)clamoring2008-10-22

Very nice update! Much better explanations. Great job!

Mr E Man (author)clamoring2008-09-27

Its a job in progress if u start it now u'll still be behind me

clamoring (author)Mr E Man2008-09-28

That's true. However, I have no idea how to make a bonsai - which is why I came to you!

Mr E Man (author)clamoring2008-09-28

Okay i'll jump ahead with another plant to show u tommorrow or tuesday

Mr E Man (author)2008-10-20

New plant planted last night, i have replace the bonsai instructable today with the new bonsai. My cutting died, too much light, forgot to turn it off... lol

Bongmaster (author)2008-09-21

kool :) i have some cuttings from my bonsais :) and they are dong ok so far, hope they survive.

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