The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Bonsai & Penjing Collection

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Copyright Carlos Diaz

Tree Care

A common misconception about bonsai and penjing trees is that they are starved or tortured to get them to grow as they do. Not so! Bonsai and penjing have the same requirements as trees in our natural environment, and starting with a healthy tree is essential.

Miniaturized trees have to be in near perfect balance with their resources. Critical horticultural practices focus on pruning, special soils, and fertilization. Regular pruning of limbs styles the tree. Periodic pruning of the roots reinvigorates the specimen while keeping it small. Special soil mixes allow for good drainage and modest water retention. As a result, this soil requires frequent watering, often daily. Careful fertilization adds essential elements to the soil without over-stimulating growth. Most enthusiasts inspect their trees daily during the season of active growth.

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