Tired of mundane indoor plants? Try bonsai

It’s the season to feel the holiday cheer. For people who love plants, we find joy every day in the plants we cultivate to grow in Nevada’s unpredictable climate. From trees that provide windbreaks to flowers that attract pollinators, we fill landscapes with a variety of specimens. And if we have enough windows in our homes, we grow as many as possible indoors.

While our houseplants are mostly of tropical origin and would never survive outdoors in our winter temperatures, there is a group that is sold as houseplants, although many species prefer changing weather conditions. outdoor seasonal workers. It’s a bonsai world.

A bonsai is a tree or shrub that is grown in a pot and pruned aggressively to limit its growth. This keeps it from becoming normal in size and in doing so creates a living work of art.

For those who grow bonsai, they are more than just another plant on the patio. There is a connection with nature, a journey that begins with each plant. For avid gardeners, the attention to detail goes far beyond the occasional watering and fertilizing. It really is an art form that originated in China and evolved in Japan. The connection to the plant is different for each person, but most will say they feel at peace when working with their bonsai. They find patience and calm in caring for the plant, noticing every little change every day. In many cases, when properly cared for, a bonsai tree will outlive its owner, as most trees have the capacity to live well over 100 years.

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Bonsai pots can hold both trees and shrubs to simulate a mini landscape.

Surprisingly, there are several species that we grow here in Nevada that can be trained and grown as bonsai trees. Species commonly found outdoors in our landscapes, such as maple, gingko, Chinese elm, juniper, and bald cypress, make excellent bonsai specimens. Although these trees do best outdoors, experiencing the seasons and winter dormancy if necessary, their long-lasting nature and unique shapes also make them popular as indoor bonsai plants. Plants of tropical origin that grow well indoors when grown as bonsai include the weeping fig, Hawaiian umbrella, and dwarf jade tree.

Whether you’re buying a rebooted bonsai or starting from a one-year-old seedling, the art of bonsai is inspiring and a rewarding growing experience. It’s best to find a mentor to help you make good choices and learn the proper care needed for these special plants. The most important things to know are that the bonsai pots will be shorter and stockier than the pots of other houseplants to keep the plant dwarfed, and the potting mix will be coarser than most common potting mixes. to allow excellent drainage.

For gardeners looking for a new adventure and a way to focus and develop their patience with great rewards, bonsai could be a great hobby to try. With the New Year fast approaching, what gardener could say no to a new challenge that doesn’t require a huge amount of space?

Wendy Hanson Mazet is the Master Gardener Coordinator for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Questions about bonsai care? Contact a master gardener at 775-336-0265 or [email protected]

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