Are Bonsai Cruel?

Are Bonsai Cruel

Humans are creative and love to innovate. These innovations may necessitate deviating from the norm, like the Bonsai cultivation technique.

It is an innovative technique used by humans to cultivate miniature trees.

These trees are grown in small containers, and several tricks such as pruning, wiring the branches, and pinching the buds are used by gardeners to restrict their growth to a specific size. 

The end result is what may be referred to as dwarf trees with woody trunks and small leaves.

These trees are mostly cultivated for horticultural purposes and do not grow above four feet in most cases.

The Bonsai technique can be used to tame several trees. Take a look around you. Most of the wild-growing trees you see can be reduced to smaller, portable trees with this technique.

If the trees are sourced when they are still seedlings or small trees, they can be trained using this technique.

However, trees with small leaves are preferred for Bonsai development. As soon as the sourced seedlings get to the desired size, it will be planted in a small pot, and these techniques will be applied to restrict further growth

Although Bonsai practice can be traced to as far back as the seventeenth century when high ranking individuals exclusively cultivated it as a show of wealth and sophistication, it has become an everyday hubby by most gardeners today.

With the recent acceptance of indoor gardening by many people, the idea of owning miniature trees in their homes no longer seems alien. Therefore, this has gone beyond a conservative practice to a shared hobby.

There are several exhibitions displaying Bonsai trees as the practice has gained full acceptance across several continents.

Is the Bonsai Technique Cruel?

Caring for a Bonsai involves tampering with the natural shape and form of the tree. This practice is described by many as cruel because the trees are subjected to unnatural techniques to achieve the desired shape.

From its shape to its height, a Bonsai is definitely not the typical representation of the tree. However, whether or not this makes this practice cruel is debatable.

On the one hand, many people believe that it is cruel because it is not natural. Just like every living thing, trees have their life to live.

They have a natural genetic makeup that makes them assume a specific shape, height, and produce certain fruits. When we see dwarf trees that have not been cultivated using the Bonsai technique, we conclude that they are unhealthy.

Therefore, it is mostly assumed that Bonsai trees are stressed. Many cling on to the stunted growth as proof of this. They are considered to be a product of a tough life. Just like most living things, plants have sensory organs, and they have features that enable them to adapt to harsh conditions.

Thus, Bonsai is often described as an adaptation to cruel and unfavorable conditions. If you picture all the pruning, trimming, binding, and wounding on an animal or a human being, you will be writhing in pain from the mere thought of it, and perhaps this is precisely where the problem lies.

There is no evidence to show that plants feel actual pain. Plants are daily subjected to harsh treatments that would cause pain to other living things. Their leaves and flowers are plucked before they become mature.

We harvest and cook these plants for food. Even plants that are cultivated for ornamental purposes are not left out as they receive more injuries than other plants. They are pruned continuously and trimmed to form beautiful patterns and shapes.

Some plants are dyed to bright colors so that they become more aesthetically appealing. 

Apart from what we subject plants to, they are also naturally exposed to harsh conditions. They suffer when there is a flood and even when there is drought.

They also have to face a lot more danger when they are in their natural habitat. They are constantly attacked by pests and also susceptible to diseases. They also have to deal with animals that munch on them and trample on them without a second thought.

Some plants struggle to attain maturity. From when they are cultivated either consciously or unconsciously, they have to fight for their survival. Some survive unfavorable conditions, adapt to their environment, and then we take them to an entirely new environment through repotting or indoor gardening.

They have to learn to live in this new environment again. We do all this without seeking their opinion for one day. Therefore, it may not be wrong to say that plants live a cruel life everywhere and every day.

There is no sweet home for plants. Whether they are left in the fields or pampered indoors, they still go through a lot every day without this technique. 

However, the Bonsai technique is not just about torturing plants. Plant care is essential for this technique to be successful. Thus Bonsai trees are pampered a lot from the onset to achieve the desired result. A typical Bonsai care routine entails the following:

Taking Care Of Bonsai

Consistent Watering

Despite their size, Bonsai are trees, so they still need a lot of water. Their roots grow deeply into the soil. Therefore, they are watered consistently and carefully so that they don’t die. If these trees were left in the open, they would have to depend on rain, which is seasonal. 

Winter Care Routine

Most trees suffer during winter. They shed their leaves and freeze. But not the Bonsai. You can protect a tree during winter with the Bonsai technique.

Since they are portable, you can take them inside during winter and bring them back outside when the weather becomes favorable. You can position them on a window so that they get as much light as they can during the day.

Also, the air would be arid, so you need to increase the humidity level in your home. You may mist them, get a humidifier standby, or use the humidity tray technique. The Bonsai tree has a better chance of surviving winter than any other tree.  

Fertilizer Application

 You do not need to add fertilizer to a big tree outside. Nature provides the nutrients that they need. However, you have to fertilize your Bonsai for it to remain healthy.

Fertilizers will provide sufficient nutrients for the Bonsai, and you have to keep replenishing the nutrients in the soil to keep your Bonsai healthy all the time.

It recommended that you fertilize a Bonsai at least once in a month. Also, you can opt for foliar feeding. Bonsai trees grow on less soil than standard trees, and as a result, they may need more supply of nutrients.

Thus, you may have to adopt the foliar feeding method to provide these nutrients to your Bonsai. This also has to be done frequently and at least once in a month. If you fail to do so, your b

Bonsai may dry and turn ugly.


Sunlight is essential for the growth and development of trees. However, when trees are in the field; they find a way around excessive sunlight effects and sunburn.

When the sun is too much for them, they may shed one or two leaves, and these leaves may grow back under favorable conditions. Also, nature has a way of protecting plants from direct sun exposure.

Most forests have the canopy structure where smaller trees grow in between taller trees. Thus, the leaves and branches of the more towering trees act as a canopy or shade for the smaller trees.

This is, however, not the case for the Bonsai tree, which is rarely cultivated in the company of other trees. Therefore, you have to make a conscious effort to ensure that the trees get the right exposure to sunlight.

You have to protect them from too much sun exposure and also provide them with adequate sun exposure. This can be a daunting task for someone who does not have enough time on their hands to look after a tree.

Bonsai needs a minimum of 5 hours of sunlight exposure daily. They suffer sunburn if kept directly under the sun and may begin to grow out of shape or form towards the direction of the sun if they are not kept where they can get access to the sun.  

Outdoor Shelter

Not all Bonsai trees are indoor plants. The Jupine tree, for instance, is a common species, but it only fares well outside. If you bring this tree indoors, its leaves will turn yellow, and it will die.

Thus, you may have to construct an outdoor shelter for this tree and other similar Bonsai trees. The shade will enable them to have access to average sunlight exposure and also protect them from other harsh environmental factors.

However, you will need to take these plants indoors during winter so that they can survive the cold. 

Planting a Bonsai is tasking as you have to cater for its delicate needs. Also, it is a lifelong journey and dedication to the plants as Bonsai trees can live for a very long time. Therefore, Bonsai is not cruel, as it takes a lot to cater to them.