Sketches of trees that are grown in pots, apparently used for decorative purposes, occur in Egyptian tombs, that are over 4,000 years old. Subsequently, caravans were known to transport trees in containers of various types throughout Asia. The trees were sources of chemicals medicinally used by healers in the caravans and places visited along the way.

The modern-day tradition of bonsai originates from China over two thousand years ago, where it is called penzai and written in the same Hanzi text that gave rise to the Kanji above. It was brought to Japan by the imperial embassies to Tang China (the 7th - 9th century). During the Kamakura period, penjing that recalled customs from the Heian period were drawn in some picture scrolls and documents. In the Muromachi period, penjing developed into various directions in Japan. Like a Japanese garden, it came to assume the artistry of "Wabi-sabi" to be the essence. However, the bonsai was still enjoyed by the people of the chosen hierarchy in the period. During the Edo period, it was possible to enjoy the bonsai for many daimyos, samurais, merchants, townsmen, and others. The shows of the bonsai were often held. And the bonsai pot became popular by each daimyo's employing the pottery master who belonged exclusively to the bonsai pot. It is said that it came to be called "Bonsai" during this time.

The art of bonsai is still practiced in China today under the name of penjing. As the Chinese art is intended for outdoor display, the plants tend to be some what larger than those seen in Japanese bonsai.


  • Acquiring & Caring For Bonsai
    Most bonsai trees sold at garden centers and nurseries are of excellent quality, but there are a few points to bear in mind when buying a new plant.  Age and shape of the tree  General health  Soil should be damp but not soggy, unless it has just been watered  Leaves should look bright and healthy, not burnt around the edges or spotty

  • Growing Japanese Bonsai Trees for Bonsai Gardens
    As you go through the history of Japanese bonsai trees (among others), you will note that this term is used to refer to a 'plant in a pot'. As per the information provided on Harvard's Arnold Arboretum site, "the ancient Chinese were the first to miniaturize trees for ornamental purposes, around A.D. 200. Later, the Japanese, who used it to create beautiful gardens, adopted the bonsai technique.

  • The Art of Bonsai
    The potential for enjoyment of Bonsai trees is enormous. These are the dwarf-sized trees that have been developed in the Asian countries of China and Japan for many hundreds of years. Most people have to go out to a forest to experience the marvelous plants that we call trees. But in the hands of a master Bonsai creator, the beautiful trees can be reduced in size to the point where they can be brought indoors to be enjoyed at any time.

  • Introduction to Bonsai
    Originally a practice of containerising ancient wild trees in China, Bonsai was exported to Japan around 500 years ago where it has become an artform. Regarded as a novelty in the West until the early 20th century, Bonsai has know been embraced as a serious horticultural artform by the Gardening Establishment here in Britain and the West as a whole. Gold Medals are regularly awarded to Bonsai exhibits at Chelsea and Tatton Park flower shows and a number of Bonsai auctions have now been held at prominent auction houses such as Sotheby's' in London.

  • Starting With Your First Bonsai
    Though bonsai can be very daunting to newcomers when they first start out, in reality it is as simple as you make it. There are many species and varieties of trees available to grow, many new techniques that can be learnt to improve bonsai appearance and a seemingly unfathomable quantity of do's and don'ts, the most important aspect as a beginner is to learn how to simply maintain the shape of your tree and keep it alive.

  • How To Feed and Fertilise Your Bonsai
    Though Bonsai are repeatedly pruned throughout their lives to keep their small stature; they are never deprived of nutrients to stop them growing. A tree planted in the ground is able to extend its root system in search of nutrients however a tree planted in a bonsai pot is unable to do so; after a short period of time the soil in a bonsai pot loses its nutritional content as the tree consumes it, much nutrition is also lost from the effects of watering and is literally flushed out of the soil. For a bonsai tree to continue to grow strongly (if at all) the soil it grows in must have its nutritional content repeatedly replenished.

  • Bonsai Gardening Tools
    To the beginner at bonsai there would seem to be a bewildering number of tools available. However a large number of these tools are designed to aid the bonsai enthusiast who is carrying out more advanced techniques such as branch splitting, jinning or carving. For your first attempts at bonsai practice, where basic maintenance is essentially all that is being practiced, it is possible to use basic tools that will do the job almost as well as specialist tools. For a very basic tool kit, the following items can be used;

  • Beginners Guide to Wiring Bonsai
    Wiring is an important part of the process of styling your bonsai and nearly all well designed bonsai have been wired at some point in their development. Though at first a daunting technique to master, it gives the bonsai enthusiast better control and manipulation of the trunk and branches of his/her bonsai. By coiling wire around the limbs of the bonsai, the enthusiast is able to bend the tree into a desired position upon which it is held by the wire. In a matter of weeks or months, the branch or trunk 'learns' and stays in position even after the wire is removed.