Miniature Bonsai Trees
Miniature bonsai are a great way to enhance your collection or complement your decor, especially if you are working with a very small space. These tiny little trees are perfect for desks, coffee tables, windowsills, or even apartment balconies. They are versatile, easy to move, and will fit just about anywhere.
Bonsai can be classified according to size, with the miniature categories being “Shohin” or “Mame”. Shohin, meaning “tiny thing”,refers to any tree that is 6-8 inches in height, although some plants reaching 10 inches are still placed in this category. Mame, translated as “bean”, is the label given to bonsai that are 3-6 inches in height. Generally, to be considered “miniature”, your bonsai should be small enough to hold in the palm of your hand.
Even though they are small, these trees can still look mature, and will produce fruit or flowers, just like the regular sized bonsai. And, since they are less expensive to purchase and maintain, miniature bonsai are a great starting point for beginners or young children.
Best Miniature Bonsai Trees
Generally, any type of tree that is appropriate for regular bonsai will also work for Mame or Shohin bonsai, however, there are some specific species that lend themselves better to the miniature styling.
Plants with naturally small foliage usually work best because they are the easiest to train and shape. Sometimes, larger leaves or needles can be reduced in size by using specific techniques, but not all species respond well to these methods. It is also important to keep in mind that fruit or flowers cannot be scaled down, so you must choose these types of plants carefully.
Since the trunks of mini bonsai are thinner and smaller, the emphasis is often placed on the leaves. For this reason, flowering plants are ideal, however, you must keep the number of blooms to a minimum since too many flowers can cause stress to the tree.
Of course, the type of bonsai tree that you choose will depend on the style and form you are hoping to achieve. So, even though the following list includes the most common or popular species, your creativity does not have to be limited to these options. With the proper pruning, a clear vision, and a lot of time and patience, you can design a beautiful mini bonsai from almost any kind of tree.
- Deciduous: The Cotoneaster and Chinese Elm are a great choice due to the fact that they have smaller leaves. Crabapple, Zelkova, flowering Quince, Azaleas, and even some types of Maples are also popular options.
- Conifers: Conifers are perfect for miniature bonsai with the most commom being Junipers (particularly Shimpaku), pines, and Bald or Dwarf Blue Cypress.
- Tropical/Semi-tropical: The two most common types of tropical/semi-tropical trees used for miniature bonsai are Ficus and Australian Brush Cherry.
Styling and Shaping
Shaping your Mame or Shohin bonsai can be challenging because you have less foliage and branches to work with. With a regular size bonsai, it is much easier to hide faults or change your overall design if you make a mistake. When styling your miniature bonsai, you must be very precise and avoid complicated forms or designs. You may even find it helpful to use a magnifying glass when trimming very small leaves or roots.
Typical bonsai tools may be too large, so it is recommended that you purchase special tools or use your fingers when pruning. However, since you will not have large branches or trunks to cut and shape, your tool kit will be less costly to purchase.
Although mini bonsai can be shaped in any of the main forms and styles, the most common are informal upright, semi-cascade, or slanting.
How to Care For Your Miniature Bonsai
Basically, your miniature bonsai will require the same care as regular bonsai, but there are some important tips to keep in mind.
Since they are planted in much smaller pots with very little soil, mini bonsai dry out more quickly. Not only will they need more frequent watering, but they must also be protected from excessive heat. Being left too long without water in direct sunlight could cause permanent damage to the tree.
Your bonsai must also be sheltered from the wind since it is very small and can easily blow away. You may wish to wire or tie down smaller pots to prevent them from falling over or becoming damaged during a storm.
Mini bonsai will need to be repotted more often, usually once a year, because the roots have a much smaller space in which to grow. To keep your bonasi mini, don't replant your tree in a container that is too large for your overall vision.
Miniature bonsai trees can be beautiful additions to your home or office, or add that finishing touch to your bonsai display.
Miniature Bonsai Starter Kit
Types of Bonsai Trees
Bonsai and Blooms Home