Something For The Office: Get a Bonsai Tree


Ficus Bonsai

Trees truly are life givers. Provided it is growing and in good health a tree will produce far more oxygen that it requires, sequester carbon, and filter the air for toxins so often found in an office or home. A NASA study of 1989 identified a list of over 30 common household plants that can filter air efficiently including Ficus trees (the same one in the picture above). So why have I focused on bonsai in particular and not just general houseplants? Well there’s nothing wrong with having both actually and it just comes down to personal preference. But I always find there’s something a bit romantic and aesthetically pleasing about having a bonsai.

Depending on the kind you get they’re not as difficult to look after as you might think, and the act of nurturing and caring for one over time can do wonders for stress and your own personal well being.

Good ones to start with are Ficus and Chinese Elm. Both are excellent for beginners and are relatively forgiving to under or over watering. They grow fast too, so you can see progress appearing right before your eyes.

For positioning keep them somewhere bright (just because they can tolerate lower light doesn’t mean they prefer it), a window sill just out of direct afternoon light is ideal.

Allow the top soil to dry out a little between watering to let the roots breathe but don’t let it dry out completely. It takes time to work out a good watering routine but you’ll be able to do it almost subconsciously after a few weeks, instantly knowing if your plant needs a top up or not.

Bonsai food is recommended, a liquid fertilizer maybe every two weeks during spring and summer. If you forget to feed for a while it’s not the end of the world, but your tree will be much happier and flourish more if you do.

Once you start getting some good growth and branch structure appearing you can start having a little fun with it too – pruning and shaping! It’s not hard and will be therapeutic and enjoyable I assure you. A Ficus can be coerced into taking a different shape with its branches very easily, and Chinese Elm respond well to pruning with lots of tiny-leafed vigorous growth. In fact, with Chinese Elms there’s even a little tip I can give you: when you prune the end off a branch, the direction the last leaf left is pointing in is where the new branch growth direction will be. So you can plan ahead and make for some wonderful shapes!


Growth Direction on a Chinese Elm

After a time you can make some truly wonderful designs and your office place will really be happier. Check out the one at this blog:

It’s been shaped to look like a Lord of the Rings hobbit hole!

With care your tree will last for years, hundreds of years in some cases. For a just a few minutes each week to water and tend, it will pay you back a hundredfold.


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