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Do any of you remember that store in the mall that sold mini bonsai trees and meditative water features? I was pretty obsessed with them as a kid and was so taken with these tiny trees, all the miniaturization of these beautiful, serene scenes. I definitely had and killed several of those trees in my teenage years, and I’m put at ease to hear I’m not the only one after speaking to many of you on Instagram about bonsai and our guest today, Bjorn from Eisei-en Bonsai. We cover a lot about this niche hobby of bonsai within an already niche of plant care, so let's get to it!


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In this episode we learn:

  • [00:04:44] How Bjorn became the bonsai expert he is today
  • [00:05:35] How long does a bonsai apprenticeship take? What are typical duties for a bonsai apprentice?
  • [00:07:31] Bjorn shares his experience in Japan and being an apprentice
  • [00:09:16] How to properly pronounce ‘bonsai’ and what it means
  • [00:09:40] What is a bonsai? How do you classify a tree as a bonsai tree?
  • [00:10:56] Can you turn any tree into a bonsai?
  • [00:11:54] Apical dominance vs lateral dominance
  • [00:14:14] How to measure bonsais and the different bonsai size classifications: shohin and chuhin
  • [00:16:03] Where did bonsais originate from?
  • [00:17:43] How do you differentiate between indoor bonsais and outdoor bonsais? What are great plants for both types?
  • [00:19:29] How much light do bonsais need?
  • [00:20:25] The basic bonsai potting mix: pumice, lava rock, and akadama (yes, it’s Japanese!)
  • [00:22:01] How much fertilizer does your bonsai need? What kind of fertilizer should you apply to your bonsai?
  • [00:23:26] Bonsai and teabags: how to ‘tea’ your bonsai when adding fertilizer
  • [00:24:19] Why growing bonsais is about practicing control
  • [00:25:00] How to take care of sick bonsai trees and what the long-term goal is for growing bonsais
  • [00:26:02] What bonsais can teach us about patience
  • [00:26:20] Where to get the best soil mixes for all plant needs
  • [00:27:36] How to keep deer and wildlife from your garden
  • [00:29:27] Do you want your bonsais to bloom?
  • [00:30:51] How often should you water bonsais? Bjorn gives us the how-to and why’s on watering bonsais
  • [00:34:32] Bonsai and shade cloths: where should you place your bonsai? What is a bonsai’s ideal light situation?
  • [00:36:20] Bonsai pruning 101
  • [00:37:32] Plant nerd facts: what are the growth hormones auxin and cytokine and what do they do?
  • [00:40:05] Why are bonsai trees in small and shallow pots?
  • [00:41:20] How much of a bonsai tree’s roots should you prune?
  • [00:42:48] Why spring is the best time to prune your bonsai
  • [00:43:41] Root galls and how to properly remove them
  • 00:45:58] How do you prune bonsai shoots? When and how do you use copper or aluminum wires to shape your bonsai?
  • [00:49:32] The concept of mochikomi
  • [00:50:28] The biggest mistakes people make when it comes to bonsais
  • [00:52:08] Bjorn’s recommendations for beginner bonsai growers
  • [00:55:39] Where to get the best bonsais online
  • [00:56:43] Winterizing your bonsai tree
  • [00:58:27] What is the best bonsai tree pest treatment?
  • [01:00:10] Why everyone should try bonsai!

Mentioned in our conversation:

Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Espoma Organic

For responsibly made, fabulous indoor and outdoor organic soils, fertilizers, pest control sprays, and more, visit to find your local dealer or check out my Amazon storefront of my favorite Espoma products here.


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