How To Grow Your Own Cannabis Bonsai: Step-by-Step Guide

How to apply the millennial art form to your cannabis plants!
03 February 2021
7 min read
How To Grow Your Own Cannabis Bonsai: Step-by-Step Guide

  • 1. What are bonsais?
  • 2. Plant training techniques for bonsais
  • 2. a. Low-stress training
  • 2. b. High-stress training
  • 3. Before starting
  • 4. How to grow your own cannabis bonsai step-by-step
  • 4. a. Step 1 - preparing the pot
  • 4. b. Step 2 - providing support
  • 4. c. Step 3 - tying down branches
  • 4. d. Step 4 - removing growth
  • 4. e. Step 5 - reaping the rewards
  • 5. In conclusion

A lot of people think that a Bonsai is a certain type of tree that grows small but little do they know, Bonsai literally means “planted in a container”, this art form refers to various training and pruning techniques that can be applied to certain shrubs and trees. Not all species can be grown this way but, luckily for you, cannabis is great for this technique so if you want to learn how to grow your own cannabis Bonsai, here’s our guide!

1. What Are Bonsais?

Bonsai is an art form and a gardening technique with over 1000 years old, despite being associated with Japanese culture, Bonsai growing is actually an old Chinese practice that Japanese Buddhist eventually refined and developed even further.


How to grow your own cannabis bonsai: what is it?

Despite the short stature, a cannabis bonsai will flower and, if grown correctly, can be consumed!

This practice consists of growing a certain plant by applying training techniques to make a miniature version while maintaining the proportion and asymmetry, leaving no trace of man-made interaction.

To achieve this, growers plant their plants in a small container and apply LST and HST techniques while restraining and sometimes pruning the roots, which will restrict growth and result in the miniature size.

2. Plant Training Techniques For Bonsais

When growing any kind of plant into a bonsai (including cannabis plants) there are basically two techniques applied; One is bending and/or tying down the branches which is a low-stress training method and the other is topping or fimming which is a high-stress training method.

Low-Stress Training

Low-Stress training (aka LST) is one of the main methods used by Bonsai growers to achieve the desired height and overall structure of a cannabis plant. This is achieved by bending and tying down the branches and main stem to make it grow sideways or in a specific way other than upwards.

To perform these techniques correctly, you will have to use wire, string, or plant ties to bend a branch into growing in the desired direction, thus achieving the typical bonsai structure (when done correctly).


How to grow your own cannabis bonsai: lst vs hst

The difference between LST and HST techniques.

High-Stress Training

Many growers prefer topping or fimming to encourage side growth which may be more stressful for most cannabis plants but take less time and effort while keeping height more consistent and easier for your plant to grow several colas.

But, when growing cannabis for your own consumption, topping once or twice (or even more) will do the job but when talking about cannabis bonsais it may not be the best option because, despite resulting in a shorter plant, it will not resemble a traditional bonsai tree so you will still have to apply LST techniques.

3. Before starting

Before starting with your own cannabis bonsai, there are a couple of things you should have in mind.

First of all; In order for your bonsai to turn out as good as it can be, it’s better to use strains that tend to grow shorter and compact, with a thicker stem, and smaller leaves, so in general, it’s recommended to use shorter varieties.

Due to the smaller size, it’s highly advised to use Indica-dominant autoflowers such as our Strawberry Pie Auto, which grows even less than Indica-leaning photoperiodic strains and will make it easier to control your cannabis bonsai’s height.

Strawberry Pie Auto
Strawberry Pie Auto
Sativa 15%/Indica 85%
Strawberry Pie Auto
8 – 9 weeks
400 – 500 gr/m2
60 – 100 cm
Up to 26%
< 1%
Buy seeds from 13,00 €
1 fem
13,00 €
2 fem
24,00 €
3 fem
36,00 €
5 fem
55,00 €
10 fem
99,00 €
25 fem
215,00 €
50 fem
365,00 €
100 fem
590,00 €
500 fem
1 950,00 €
1000 fem
3 400,00 €
3 fem
Add to Cart
36,00 €

Also, have in mind that you won’t get big yields due to the final size of the plant so this isn’t recommended if you are looking to get a big harvest, it’s actually more of a hobby for home growers who want to experiment with new things. 

Second; Growing a healthy bonsai involves a lot of both HST and LST plant training and adjusting the amount of fertilizer you feed so despite being a small plant, it takes a lot of time and dedication to do it properly but it’s definitely worth it.

4. How To Grow Your Own Cannabis Bonsai Step-By-Step

So, in order to start growing your own cannabis bonsai, you’ll need the following:

  • A cannabis plant seed or clone;
  • Plant ties, wire, or string:
  • Drill to make holes on the pot or tape to hold the wire, string, plant ties, etc;
  • A bamboo or wooden stake.

Step 1 - Preparing the pot

You don’t necessarily need to drill the holes, you can get away by just using tape or flexible wires but making the holes on the side of the pot will save you from a lot of headaches. 


How to grow your own cannabis bonsai: prepare the pot

Make sure you have everything before starting to avoid problems further into your grow cycle.

So, start by drilling the holes (or making them any way you prefer); These holes are where you’ll be tying the branches so make sure the holes are wide enough for the material of choice to go through (either wire, string, plant ties, etc..).

Step 2 - Providing support

The most important aspect of bonsais is the appearance, to achieve this you can use anything you want or have available but most growers will use a wooden stake next to the stem or trunk to be able to position the stem in any direction you need to, allowing you to reach the desired shape easier.

To position the stake, press the wooden or bamboo stake into the soil alongside the stem, just be careful so you don’t damage the roots.


How to grow your own cannabis bonsai: providing support

You can use whatever your ant as long as you provide support so your plant maintains the desired shape.

Once the stake is in place, you can use a piece of string, wire, or a plant tie to tie your plant to the stake or use the stake to provide support and tie your branch to one of the holes you’ve made.

Have in mind that a stake is not obligatory but can make things easier if it’s the first time you are trying to grow your own cannabis bonsai.

Step 3 - Tying down branches

Once your cannabis plant has completely developed around 3-4 nodes, you can go ahead and start with the plant training.

Just like with the stem, you will have to bend the branches, and this is where the plant ties come in.


How to grow your own cannabis bonsai: tying down the branches

When tying the branches, make sure you don't tie the knot too tight!

Before starting you have to envision which shape you want to achieve and once you have an idea, hold the branches in the desired direction and tie them to the holes you’ve made on the pot.

Have in mind that the tie is just to hold them in place and let them grow in the desired direction so make sure you don’t tie them too tight to allow them to continue growing.

Step 4 -  Removing growth

Despite the training methods applied to your cannabis bonsai, it’s most likely it will grow bigger than you anticipated or wanted to so it’ll come the time when you’ll have to prune it, aka remove some leaves and even some branches.

Pruning mostly serves to give your cannabis plant that unique bonsai look but will also allow air to flow in between the branches (and eventually buds) which prevents mold and bugs so it’s important to do it correctly.


How to grow your own cannabis bonsai: pruning

Don't prune too aggressively to avoid stressing your plant and end up stunting growth.

When pruning, make sure you only remove the new offshoot branches (the branches that grow from the main branches), it’s important you don’t remove the main ones because this will stress your plant and stunt growth.

Step 5 -  Reaping the rewards

As said before, growing a bonsai cannabis plant isn’t ideal for those who want to get big harvests (obviously) but despite being small, your cannabis bonsai will flower so once your plant is ready, it’s time for harvest.


How to grow your own cannabis bonsai: harvesting

After all the time and effort, it's now time to reap the rewards!

Now, if you’re not a cannabis consumer or you don’t want to kill your plant, you can leave it be for quite some time but your plant will eventually turn into a male in an attempt to produce seeds so it’s better to harvest, dry, cure, and smoke your buds before this happens.

5. In Conclusion

Despite not being the best idea for people growing their medicine, a cannabis bonsai is a great way to acquire knowledge on plant training while growing beautiful bonsais that will amaze even non-cannabis consumers; A time consuming yet rewarding hobby suited for all growers.

If you have experience with cannabis bonsais to help fellow growers with your tips and tricks, leave a comment in the comment section below!

03 February 2021