Starting Bonsai



I’m very much interested in getting into growing bonsai trees. Are there any specific plants you would recommend based on cultivating in a condo and in Toronto’s weather patterns?


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

As you likely already know given your question, Bonsai is a process whereby plants are “miniaturized” by growing them in smaller than normal containers and pruning them frequently to achieve the effect of making the plant resemble its larger counterpart in nature.

Toronto Master Gardeners has a published Gardening Guide “The Art of Bonsai” which will answer many of your questions.  The guide discusses not only how to choose plants, but also pruning techniques, the correct growing environment, wiring and plant maintenance.  Please see the link below for the complete guide.  It is also available by searching the Toronto Master Gardener website.

In general, your choice of plant for bonsai will depend on whether you want to keep your plants indoors or outdoors. Indoor choices are tropical or subtropical plants that thrive in the warm environments of houses, condominiums and apartments.   These plants typically prefer bright light except in summer when the midday sun may be too hot for them to be placed directly in a window. For outdoor bonsai, choices are the same plants that we can successfully grow in Toronto gardens. Such plants must be kept outside in winter to go through their normal dormancy. On a condominium balcony this may mean having a cold frame for winter that is out of direct sunlight that will keep plants at a consistent temperature of 0°-5°C.

There is a list of specific recommendations for both indoor and outdoor plants suitable for bonsai in the Toronto Master Gardener’s Guide.

You may also find it helpful to contact or join the Toronto Bonsai Society. This would be a good resource to answer some of your specific questions as you start your new hobby.  Good luck!

January 27, 2021