Bonsai Care

Jerry and Rhona Meislik Bonsai Fund

Our stunning collection of over 60 bonsai and penjing trees requires time-intensive care, literally 365 days per year. Your donation helps maintain the health and beauty of this unique living collection.

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.

Caring for a bonsai

Bonsai experts Paul Kulesa (L) and David DeGroot work on a tree at Matthaei.

Wires for training bonsai

Special wires are needed for training the branches of a bonsai tree.