Posted on: August 6, 2020 at 4:20 pm
Last updated: December 23, 2020 at 2:24 pm

People have been growing different types of bonsai trees for thousands of years, but did you know that you can grow cannabis bonsai trees? That’s right, the art of bonsai tree growing plus the science of marijuana growing have come together in this adorable decorative and functional little plant.

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What is a Bonsai Tree?

For starters, a bonsai tree is not actually a type of tree, it is a method of growing. This is an important piece of knowledge to understand how something like a cannabis bonsai is even possible. (1)

When you hear “bonsai” what it actually is referring to is growing a plant (such as a tree) that looks just like a regular version, just miniature. This practice originated in China and Japan and requires a careful grooming technique to have it remain small. You can use nearly any tree type, nothing special required. (1)

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The word bonsai is actually Japanese for “planted in a container”. When you grow the tree in a small pot, it limits how large the root system can become, which directly impacts the tree’s ability to store nutrients. This limited capacity is what prevents the tree from growing up large. (1)

The best types of trees for bonsai have (1):

  • A woody trunk
  • Smaller leaves, or
  • Leaves that can be reduced in size

Growing them requires patience, care, pruning, branch wiring, and a lot of time and attention given to the plant. Your efforts are wonderfully rewarded, however, when you have a beautiful little tree in your home.

Read: Woman Up-Cycled Old School Buses into Greenhouses

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How to Grow a Cannabis Bonsai Tree from Scratch

Growing a cannabis bonsai is just the same procedure as any other bonsai tree. 

You will need (1):

  • A young potted marijuana plant
  • Electric drill
  • Gardening wire
  • Wooden stake

Once you have gathered your necessary materials, follow these steps.

Step 1: Drill the Pot

Drill several wire-sized holes in all sides of your pot. These holes will be where you will be running the wire that will be suspending your branches in various directions. (1)

Step 2: Trunk Training

In order for the marijuana plant to grow in such a way so that it looks like a bonsai is to plant the wooden stake next to your plant’s trunk. You can use the stake to make your plant grow in whichever direction you’d like. (1)

Be sure to press gently as you place your stake next to the plant’s trunk to avoid damaging the roots. Then gently wrap the trunk around the stake and use the wire to tie it to the nearest hole in the pot. Do not tie it too tightly, or you will prevent the trunk from expanding as it grows. (1)

Step 3: Branch Training

This is done in the same manner as you did for your trunk. Once you’ve chosen what direction you want a plant to grow in, use the wire to tie it to the nearest hole in the pot. As always, leave growing room for your branches, unless you want them to grow in a more horizontal fashion, in which you will have to tie them with a bit more force. (1)

Step 4: Pruning

As your cannabis bonsai grows it will develop many different branches. You will want to prune off some of these branches for several reasons (1):

  • To preserve the bonsai “look” of the plant
  • Allow for better airflow through the branches
  • Prevent humidity within the plant, which leads to mold growth

Be careful to only prune new growth branches. If you prune more mature branches you will cause a larger wound and traumatize the plant, which will slow its growth as it uses more energy to heal. (1)

Step 5: Harvest

In the flowering stage, the plant will produce white buds. Trim off the buds and leave them in a well-ventilated room to dry. (1)

Once they separate easily from their stem you will move onto the curing phase. (1)

Step 6: Curing

Put your buds in an air-tight glass jar and store them in a dark, dry place. Check on your jars frequently to ensure there is no humidity buildup. If you notice moisture inside the jars, take the lid off and allow them to air out before putting it back on again. (1)

Eventually, the buds will become half-dry with just the trichomes remaining sticky. You are now ready to begin to pull off your product. (1)

Read: Cannabis and the Entourage Effect: Why Cannabis Can’t Always Be Reduced to Just THC

How to Keep Your Tree Going

Though your budless bonsai will still be lovely, if you want to keep the tree producing, follow these steps (1):

  1. Remove only the top third of the plant when it is ready to be cut. This is where all of the large buds are.
  2. Extensively trim the central third of the plant, removing all old yellow leaves.
  3. Leave the small buds on the bottom third of the tree. These little buds are what will start the plant’s regeneration process.
  4. Give your bonsai 18 hours or more of light and a large amount of nitrogen to move it into the vegetative stage (an important phase in the plant’s cycle).

In this phase, the tree will not need as much water. Check it regularly and only water it when the soil feels dry. Be aware that over time, the marijuana buds will become less potent. (1)

Happy cannabis bonsai growing!

Keep Reading: 5 Cheap Gardening Tricks for Self-Reliance

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Julie Hambleton
Team Writer
Julie Hambleton is a fitness and nutrition expert and co-founder of The Taste Archives along with her twin sister Brittany Hambleton.