Bonsai experiment

For most growers who are buying cannabis seeds, all eyes are on a ‘big’ end result - big plants, big buds, big harvest! However, there’s a growing niche of cultivators out there who have decided to think outside the pot and who are happily taking their marijuana to new lows.... welcome to the world of bonsai cannabis plants.

Really? We hear you ask. What is the point of growing a weed plant that will produce just about enough nugs to keep Stuart Little happy for the weekend? Well, for the bonsai enthusiast it’s all about the aesthetics, the challenge, or simply being able to grow a cannabis specimen in an environment where it is impossible to grow a regular marijuana plant. 

While growers of cannabis bonsai plants aren’t exactly lining up at the Paradise Seeds sales counter, we have definitely seen more interest in this cannabis cultivation phenomenon. Last year we had a handful of conversations at expos with budding bonsai growers and naturally we were curious to find out about their reasons for growing this way.

The Zen nature of the bonsai mindset is a significant factor. After all this Far Eastern cultivation process, which dates back hundreds of years,  requires care, attention to detail and a great deal of patience. In traditional bonsai culture, trees can be labours of love that last for many years, so the quick growth of cannabis plants provides a fun short term project to play around with and hone their bonsai skills.

Added to this is the pleasing aesthetic of the cannabis plant, the symmetry and symbolic shape of the leaves and the exotic nature of the flower growth. A big part of the attraction of growing bonsai cannabis plants is the ‘wow’ factor associated with showing off a miniature cannabis tree on your windowsill to friends and Insta followers!

How to Grow Bonsai Cannabis Plants

So how easy is it to grow one of these micro cannabis plants? The practice is actually not so different from LST (Low Stress Training) and other training techniques which are used to train regular plants. While being careful not to stress the plant, never underestimate the versatility and robustness of a cannabis plant in vegetative growth. It can be bent and shaped in all kind of ways and will always bounce back, and often stronger, as a result.

Many growers are reluctant to abandon the established Christmas tree vertical growth pattern and make the leap of faith to training or Scrogging because it feels unnatural and looks so destructive in the early stages. However, those that do are always more than pleasantly surprised, and few will return to their previous methods. To see a good example of how scary such training techniques look check out the Top Shelf Grower Skunk Works Project episode on mainlining (and then tune in to a later episode to see just how good the results are!).   

To pursue the art of cannabis bonsai, the process begins with a seed planted in a small pot and the training begins when the plant is no more than 10 cm. Shaping the plant requires bending and twisting, using craft/gardening wire and supports (wooden BBQ skewers for example), to support the tension on the stem. Some bonsai weed growers will drill holes in the rim of the plant pot so that wire or string can be looped through to anchor the plant’s branches in place later in the process.

As the plant grows, the process of strategic pruning begins – removing bigger/older leaves and snipping away offshoot branches at node level in order to allow light to reach smaller leaves and accentuate the shape of the plant. See the internet for video tutorials giving essential tips and some amazing bonsai and sculpted cannabis examples (check out the work of @budzaiofficial and @bonshighon Instagram and @vilbyG on Twitter).

Two recommended strains for a cannabis bonsai experiment are Wappa (an excellent and versatile hybrid with a short and robust growth pattern) and Ice Cream a short stature indica with beautiful flower coloring. If this sounds like a project for you, then good luck and please do send us some photos of your Zen masterpiece. We’d love to see them!