Cannabonsai or budsai is becoming more and more popular among herb enthusiasts. Growing bonsai cannabis is fun, therapeutic, and can be a practical way to keep mother plants.
What Is Bonsai?
Although many people think bonsai is a particular species of miniature tree, the term refers to a technique developed in China over 1000 years ago.
Japanese Buddhists later gave the art form the name “bonsai,” which means “planted in a container.” Nearly any shrubby or tree-like plant can be trained bonsai style, even cannabis.
Why Grow Cannabis Bonsai?
The most practical reason to grow cannabis in bonsai form is to save space. Many craft growers choose bonsai techniques to produce clones. Bonsai mother plants take up less space and resources, so you’ll be able to keep several strains on hand for cloning. You can house various bonsai mother plants in a relatively small grow tent with the light cycle optimized to keep the plants in the vegetative stage.
Some growers allow their bonsai cannabis plants to complete their full life cycle to produce a small harvest. Cannabonsai is ideal for apartment dwellers growing a few plants for personal enjoyment.
Moreover, growing bonsai is an art form that facilitates meditation and creativity. Traditional bonsai plants share specific features, such as serving as miniature landscapes and focal points for meditation.
Steps for Growing Bonsai Cannabis
You’ll have an easier time growing your budsai if you gather all of the necessary supplies beforehand.
Cannabis seeds, clones, or seedlings
Since indicas grow short and bushy, they’re ideal for bonsai. However, sativa-dominant varieties can also work well for the technique.
The most crucial factor is choosing genetics that produce sturdy and thick stems. Additionally, hybrids that respond favorably to Sea-of-Green techniques work well for bonsai. Some strains that can be excellent for budsai include Gelato, White Widow, and Strawberry Glue.
Rich homemade garden soil or a reliable commercial potting soil like Fox Farms will work well for budsai. If you don’t mind breaking with tradition, you can also grow your miniature cannabis plants hydroponically.
While traditional bonsai gardeners use ceramic pots, you can also grow cannabonsai in plastic containers or small grow bags. The advantage of plastic pots and fabric grow bags is that you can drill holes at regular intervals to attach your supports.
Twine, string, or wire
You’ll need string, twine, or wire to train your bonsai into your desired shape. Some people prefer to use strips of an old cotton t-shirt because it’s softer and less likely to damage your plant. Make sure that the holes you drill are large enough for your twine, string, fabric, or wire to pass through.
Wood or bamboo stakes
You’ll need at least one sturdy wood or bamboo stake to support the central trunk of your miniature cannabis tree. Using a clone or seedling, you’ll have to carefully position the main post to avoid damaging the roots. You can place the central stake beforehand if you’re starting from seed.
Drilling support holes will be challenging if you use a traditional ceramic pot for your budsai. In this case, you can place smaller support stakes around the edge of the pot. Landscape staples are perfect for this purpose.
You’ll need a sharp pair of fine-tipped pruning shears for cannabonsai. Fiskars trimming scissors also come in handy for getting into small spaces. Remember to sterilize your shears with alcohol to prevent spreading diseases between plants.
Design Your Bonsai
It’s helpful to have a general idea of the form you would like your budsai to take before you start training the plant. You can find many design ideas by searching for bonsai cannabis on Pinterest or Google Images.
Your final budsai form will likely differ from your original idea as the plant’s natural growth will guide you as time passes. Try to be gentle with your plants and respect their instinctual growth patterns.
Place the supports
If you can add your supports before you plant your seed, clone, or seedling, you’ll reduce the risk of harming your budsai roots. However, you may need to carefully position your central wooden or bamboo stake after planting a clone or seedling.
You can immediately place your central support and edge stakes or holes. However, you’ll need to wait until your plant has at least three sets of leaves before you begin training it.
Prune Your Budsai
Strategic pruning is one of the most essential and meditative practices when growing bonsai. The first step in the pruning process is fimming. This is done by snipping out the top growth from the central stalk. Later, you may even want to top the plant to encourage lateral growth. You’ll also need to remove any excess foliage to ensure proper airflow and reduce the chances of mold formation.
If your plant grows too quickly, you can slow down the process by switching the budsai to a flowering-stage light cycle for a day or two. When you revert back to veg-stage lighting, the plant will continue producing branches and leaves at a slightly slower pace.
Remove the Supports
Removing supports too early is one of the most common mistakes new bonsai growers make. Everyone gets excited to see what the final product will look like, but patience is a crucial part of the art of bonsai. Ensure that your budsai can support itself before removing ties and posts.
Harvest and Cure the Buds
If you choose to let your cannabonsai flower, you’ll need to harvest, dry, and cure your mini-yield properly. You can either uproot the whole plant or snip off individual flowers. Although it’s a subject of debate, several budsai growers claim to revert their plants back to the vegetative state to produce multiple yields.
After giving your buds a day or two to dry, place them in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid to cure. You’ll need to add a desiccant or Boveda pack to control the humidity during the curing process. Open the lid twice daily to let gases escape during the first week.
If you’re creating cannabonsai for clones, you’ll want to keep them in a 16/8 lighting cycle. You may also need to trim the roots occasionally.
Bonsai mother plants kept in the vegetative stage can live for many seasons. Some Japanese families have maintained individual traditional bonsai plants dating back to the 17th century!
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