Your Bonsai Collection PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bonsai King   
Saturday, 25 October 2008 16:01

How to prepare for your own bonsai collection

After a while of doing bonsai you will be surprised on how much bonsai you have accumulated. Now it has become a collection. Having a collection is not an easy task especially when you have limited time to spare. You will find that your space is gradually filling up and getting enough sunlight for you bonsai is becoming a problem. You try to position your bonsai to get as much sunlight to keep them healthy. But some of them become more inaccessible to you that they become neglected. Having no time, some bonsai grows out of control losing its shape. You try to catch up sacrificing time and money but the task keeps on growing. Do not despair, careful planning is the key.

How many?

How much free time do you have to spare for bonsai?

To give you an idea let me give an example. These examples are estimates because much will depend on the type of tree you have. But this a close ball park figure just enough for creating a sensible plan.



Wiring & Repotting




1 min/day

1 hour/2 months

5 mins/2 wks

15.25 hrs/yr


1 min/day

2 hours/3 months

8 mins/month

16.18 hrs/yr


1 min/day

5 hours/6 months

15 mins/2 mos

18.58 hrs/yr


1 min/day

12 hours/year

25 mins/3 mos

21.58 hrs/yr

Average time per bonsai 17.9 hrs/yr


From the above calculations, you will see that size doesn’t matter much when it comes to maintenance time for bonsai. Even though it is small you have to spend a lot of time maintaining it to remain small. You seldom touch your large bonsai but when you do, it takes a lot of time because it so big. All of the above estimates are based on the fact that you already know what to do. For beginners it will take a lot more time. For professionals, it may take half the time.

The next question is, how much time can you give for your bonsai? The table below will give you the amount time you can give a day and the number of bonsai you can maintain.

Time per day


No of Bonsai

Level by amount of time spent








Beginer Enthusiast








Serious Enthusiast




Very Serious Enthusiast








Serious Professional




Commercial Pro

As you can see a single person can only handle so much. If you have more bonsai than the amount of time you can give, then it is probably time to hire a professional. However, as you increase in skill so would your pace in maintaining bonsai. So be careful not to increase your collection beyond that of a beginner. If you can maintain all your bonsai and still have time to spare, then that means your skill has increased. You can then add more bonsai. It is important to know how much you could maintain because you do not want your pricey bonsai to become neglected. Neglect will destroy your bonsai sometimes beyond repair, and you have to start again from the beginning. Please read my article on creating bonsai. Another option is to dispose of the bonsai that you do not like, either by selling it or giving it away to a friend.

Survey your area first, because you might acquire more bonsai than your area with sunlight can accommodate. This brings us to the next step.


Search for a position of longest sunlight exposure. The more sunlight you get, the better your bonsai. Sunlight is where all the energy of your bonsai comes from. If you do not have enough sunlight, etoliation will occur, your branches will elongate, your internode distance will increase, leaves will become larger making it very hard to achieve ramification. Furthermore with less energy available, it will take longer time for your bonsai to develop. To say it safely, you need at least 6 hours of sunlight to create a healthy bonsai. Yes, you can use artificial lighting, but some trees do not need so much light. Some bonsai can survive for as little as 1 hour a day of sunlight. It all depends on your observation and experience. If you do not have much sun light, choose a bonsai that need less light; indoor plants such as ficus species are examples.

An east to west orientation would be best. But always remember that morning sun is more important than afternoon sun. The angle of the sun with respect to the earth is exactly the same but why is morning sun more important? Morning sun is guaranteed sun light. Because in the morning the coldness of the air limits evaporation which delays cloud formation, and hence more light can pass through. Didn’t you notice that it is always cloudy or raining in the afternoon? Because the heat from the sun since morning warms the sea and air hastening evaporation thus forming clouds in the afternoon.

Put all your bonsai in one location

It would be easier to maintain your bonsai if they are in one location specially when it come to watering. Build a faucet near your collection and attach a permanent nozzle with a selector for different kinds of spray. There are days when you have to rush to office and you might entertain the idea of bypassing the watering chore, or you may wake up late with a heavy hang over and decide to skip watering. This is dangerous, the smaller the bonsai the easier for it to dry up. I lost a lot of mamae due to this. So make it very convenient and fun for you to do the watering. Just imagine if your collection is spread all around the house, it would be very difficult to water them all. But if the time comes that you want to display it for an event in your home then you can display it temporarily in any part of your house.

Put your collection in a very accessible place; a place where you pass by the most number of times in a day. Every bonsai enthusiast wants to see their bonsai as often as possible of course, but putting it on a path going to the entrance door or garage would guarantee that you see them all the time. By frequently seeing your collection, you can do maintenance at the right time.

Bonsai should have a platform

To reduce the chances of insect infestation, and other accidental damages, the collection should be raised on some kind of a plat form. By raising it, you could also see your collection much better and spot potential problems before it happens. The roots will also have a lesser chances of reaching the soil and making you bonsai grow wild. The platform should be made of treated wood, painted iron or steel, cement or any material that can withstand the elements. I often use hollow blocks to raise it and planks of painted wood on top.

Arrange your bonsai

Put mamae closest and the largest further. Those that need frequent maintenance should be most accessible.


Last Updated on Saturday, 14 February 2009 17:15