Traditional bonsai are outdoor plants, brought indoors only for special occasions. With the proper plant choice and care, however, you can enjoy bonsai indoors. Growing and tending to these miniature trees and shrubs is a relaxing hobby that has proven health benefits like reducing stress. It’s also good for your home. Greenery in your home helps keep your indoor air cleaner and fresher, and since bonsai rely on high levels of humidity to thrive, they also add needed moisture to the air during dry times.
Plants that do well in filtered sunlight can thrive in a home environment. Many plants native to forest environments, like the Dawn Redwood, can do well as indoor bonsai. These deciduous trees do best when exposed to bright, filtered light in spring through fall, and cold temperatures during winter. The Japanese Black Pine and the Gardenia can also thrive indoors, and make beautiful bonsai.
Ideally, bonsai are outdoor plants, but can be grown indoors. Place your bonsai where it will get bright, filtered sunlight, and not be “burned” by direct sun coming through a window. It’s also a good idea to open a nearby window to allow your bonsai to get fresh air. Once cooler weather comes, if your bonsai is deciduous, move it to a cooler environment like the garage or a storage shed where it will be protected, but cool during its dormant months. You will still want to water it regularly to prevent drying out, and move it back to a sunny spot in early spring.
Most bonsai prefer a very moist environment. The small, shallow planters they are in usually sit in a humidity tray for a reason. The trays help capture water and trap humidity near the bonsai. They also protect the surface under your plant. Water your bonsai anytime the soil appears dry, and never allow it to completely dry out. Each plant will have its own water needs, so adjust your scheduled accordingly, and water until there is a puddle in the humidity tray under your bonsai.
Keep your bonsai trimmed and pruned, just as you would a larger version of the same plant, and use wires and selective pruning to shape it into one of the traditional bonsai styles, or let it grow naturally. Either way, bonsai can be a wonderful way to add greenery to your home.