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Bonsai keeping was something I got into purely for aesthetic reasons (that and watching the Karate Kid too many times). After all, what’s cooler than having your miniature tree? That being said, in my 3 or so years of keeping bonsai I’ve noticed a bunch of other health benefits. So what are the health benefits of bonsai trees?
Stress reduction, better heart health, lower chances of obesity, and a smaller risk of common colds are the main health benefits of bonsai trees. Bonsai keeping also has the added mental health benefits of teaching patience, positivity, and goal setting.
So what are the biggest health benefits of bonsai trees? And what exactly do the studies say about keeping bonsai trees? Keep reading to find out more!
Just a quick heads up, over the past three years of running Plantpaladin, hundreds of people have asked for product recommendations. As such, You can find my favorite indoor bonsai tree here (link takes you to Bonsaiboy), my favorite outdoor bonsai tree (link takes you to Bonsaiboy), or have a look at all the products I recommend here.
Help reduce stress
In my opinion, the biggest benefit of keeping a bonsai tree is that it helps reduce stress.
In today’s day and age, we have tons of information thrown at us from our jobs the internet, and all other aspects of life – it truly is the information age.
As such it can be hard to just shut off and focus on some form of mindfulness or stress relief.
One of the best ways to help reduce stress is to just help keep bonsai trees.
Focusing on your bonsai will help get your outdoors – even if it’s just for 15 minutes this can drastically reduce your cortisol levels.
Improves heart health
Heart disease is a major problem in the world being the leading cause of death globally.
It’s estimated by the WHO that 17.9 million people died from Cardiovascular disease last year alone which counts for a whopping 32% of all deaths globally in 2019.
One of the major causes of heart disease is a lack of exercise and movement and stress.
Keeping a bonsai tree will not only help you reduce the amount of stress in your life as mentioned above, but it will also help get you out of the flat or house.
Most of you will be keeping bonsai trees outdoors, meaning the daily activities of watering your bonsai, checking for insects like aphids, caterpillars, spider mites, or other pests like frogs, birds, and slugs, or just generally pruning your bonsai means that you will be spending plenty of time on your feet outdoors – getting a little bit of exercise in every day.
Purifies the air
Like all trees, bonsai trees absorb the carbon dioxide from the air and increase the amount of oxygen in the air.
This is incredibly important in our modern world when Co2 emissions in the air have been increasing rapidly since the industrial revolution.
It’s one of the reasons why trees are often planted near highways, to reduce our impact on the world around us.
Whilst this is commonplace, keeping a bonsai tree, either outdoors or indoors can also help reduce some harmful contaminants that are in the air.
A Nasa study in the 80s found that plants if kept correctly can help rescue contaminants like Benzene from the air – yep, that’s right, the same benzene that can cause vomiting, headache, and diarrhea.
“Trees have been associated with lower asthma rates” – Columbia University
Now another study by Nasa also found that should you keep indoor greenery this can further help with removing these contaminants indoors due to the tiny microorganisms that grow in and around our bonsai.
This then can further provide health benefits by reducing the chances of pollution-related illnesses such as respiratory infections.
Other VOCs such as ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride will also be absorbed through bonsai.
If you find yourself living in a major city with a lot of pollution, I would definitely recommend investing in a bonsai.
Gets you more Vitamin D
Vitamin D is that one vitamin we are often told we don’t get enough of.
During the summer, when there is a lot of sunlight outdoors, getting out is something that can drastically increase our chances of getting more vitamin D in our bodies.
Keeping a bonsai tree outdoors will force you to get outside for a few minutes per day ensuring that you get enough Vitamin D.
Now should you be a pregnant woman, come from African, middle eastern, or South Asian heritage, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a child under 5 years old you must get more Vitamin D as these groups are naturally more deficient in the vitamin.
Provides organic fruit
Most of us now understand the health benefits of eating organic fruit.
Organically grown foods have higher levels of Vitamin C, magnesium, and iron, all of which are important for our bodies to function.
With homesteading on the rise more and more people are growing their own fruit and what better way to do that than by growing them through a bonsai.
Lime, lemon, apple orange, pomegranate, and crabapple are all popular fruits that you can grow through keeping bonsai should you keep those species and so you can have both the benefits of organic fruit without a lot of the costs associated with it.
They are aesthetically pleasing
Whilst this might sound a little bit out there, there are some significant health benefits of looking at aesthetically pleasing things.
Beautiful architecture, beautiful people and even watching the sunset have all been found to help improve mood when gazed upon.
This is also true when it comes to nature.
With bonsai trees, arguably being the most aesthetically pleasing trees to look at, spending a few minutes every day looking at your trees, can help boost your mood significantly.
Adds greenery indoors
With workplaces seemingly more stressful than they were just five years ago, a greater emphasis on wellbeing is now more apparent.
Companies and remote workers are doing this is by keeping bonsai trees and other plants indoors.
A lot of organizations now keep indoor bonsai plants in their offices to help reduce a stressful environment and is so widely practiced that it is also used by several hospitals to help reduce stress in patients.
This will help give the feeling of nature and being outdoors inside which can help with mood stabilization and help reduce stress.
Easily one of the biggest, mental, health, and spiritual benefits that come with keeping bonsai trees is the patience it teaches you.
This means that you will need to undertake 15 to 20 years’ worth of work before seeing the fruits of your labor.
As such you will have to build this into your daily routine – teaching you patience in the process.
This will also help teach you deferred gratification which has some very real health benefits too.
“Green prescriptions, such as keeping bonsai trees, have been found to improve the psychological conditioning of people” – Univeristy of Exeter
Can aid in aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has been used for over 3500 years in countries like China and India to help open your lungs, improve your focus and help meditate.
In modern connotations, this can be done with essential oils.
That being said, bonsai tree species such as pine or cedar are commonly used in these techniques due to their pleasant smells.
On top of this, most bonsai trees do not smell meaning they can further absorb any bad or off-putting smells from around your home if kept indoors.
Helps improve relationships
Another mental health benefit of keeping bonsai trees is that it can help the relationships you have with friends and family.
Whilst bonsai can be undertaken as a solitary activity, getting your friends and family involved in the art, visiting bonsai competitions, or even sharing skills gives you a commonality to help build a bond over.
This will in turn help you strengthen your existing relationships giving you a sense of happiness and fulfillment.
Aids in better mental health
Another major benefit of keeping a bonsai tree is that it can help fight mental health diseases such as anxiety and depression.
A study by Jules Patt et al found that people who were involved in a green activity like bonsai keeping, were more relaxed, had lower feelings of anger, confusion, and depression post activity.
Fights the common cold
Now if you are feeling a little under the weather due to the common cold, flu and are feeling fatigued and are suffering from a runny nose and sore throat then bonsai trees can help.
Due to bonsai trees absorbing toxins in the air such as excess carbon monoxide they also absorb viruses.
As such, the common cold and its viral companions will be absorbed by the tree, reducing your chances of getting ill and speeding up the recovery process.
It’s estimated that 650 million people globally are obese.
With the advent of technology and people having everything at their fingertips, it’s only natural that the comfortable world that we have built is causing some serious weight issues for many of us.
One of the major benefits of keeping a bonsai is that it forces you to go outdoors and on your feet to help maintain your tree.
Other bonsai activities such as repotting a bonsai or managing its aftercare, preparing a bonsai for winter, building a bonsai cold frame, or building a bonsai greenhouse all take a lot of time and effort to be achieved.
This will force you to burn calories and if done consistently enough, will cause you to lose weight in turn.
Help reduce noise
Another major health problem facing people in larger cities is noise pollution.
Noise pollution often leads to premature hearing loss in millions of people globally.
Keeping a large collection of bonsai trees in your yard or garden will help deflect and reduce the amount of noise that you hear, reducing your chances of things like early hearing loss.
Fewer financial worries
Some of the largest mental health issues people face are the financial worries they face, with 54% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck.
The tolls that this brings can be crushing at times.
One albeit small way in which bonsai trees can help this is through energy savings.
Larger bonsai for example can provide a lot of shade in the summer months. reducing your need for electricity to power things like AC units.
Should you have a larger bonsai tree collection you can also grow your own fruits for-profits, providing some form of passive income.
Finally, the older bonsai trees become, the more expensive they become too.
It’s not uncommon then for bonsai trees that are 50 years old or more to sell for thousands of dollars with their pots selling for hundreds of dollars.
As such, investing in bonsai trees could be a long-term investment and help reduce financial stress.
Sets yourself goals
Another mental health benefit of keeping bonsai trees is that it enables you to set yourself goals.
I know what you’re thinking, how does setting yourself goals help with my health?
Goal setting can help keep you motivated and give you something to focus on – this means that you will have a reduced chance of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety as your mind starts to focus on a project.
Having too much free time has been found to actually lower your wellbeing and so having a project to focus on such as bonsai that needs consistent hard work and dedication can definitely get you out of a rut.
Keeping bonsai and setting goals can also further help boost your productivity, helping you get into a flow state of work.
Forces you to become an optimist
one of the best health benefits of keeping bonsai trees is that the process of keeping bonsai trees forces you to become an optimist.
In order to grow bonsai from scratch, you have to stay positive knowing that the hard work you are putting in today will not pay dividends until 10, 15, or even 20 years down the line.
Research has found that optimists live on average 10% to 15% longer than pessimists so what better way to help your chances of this than by keeping bonsai.
Keeping bonsai will also help boost your optimism by teaching you the Japanese art of Wabi-Sabi.
This is the theory that whatever you create will always be imperfect and so any art you create through bonsai trees will be too.
This will help you focus on the process further improving your outlook on life.
What do the studies say?
Now I didn’t just want to give the health benefits of bonsai trees and so wanted to share a few other studies.
Luckily there are hundreds of studies that highlight the health benefits of keeping bonsai.
To help summarize I’ve put them in a table:
|R S Ulrich||Looking at greenery such as bonsai can help speed up health recovery.|
|Royal College Of Physician||Exploring green spaces with plants such as bonsai can drastically increase well-being.|
|Leeds Beckett university||Exposure to greenery and plants such as bonsai can have a net positive effect on mental health|
|University of Washington||Keeping greenery can improve health for people living in cities.|
|University of Exeter||Green prescriptions, such as keeping bonsai trees, have been found to improve the psychological conditioning of people|
|University of Bristol||People who live near green spaces or keep plants are 27% less likely to be overweight or obese.|
|University of Glasgow||People living near green spaces had lower death rates and less heart disease.|
|BTCV||Bonsai tree planting can be as effective as aerobics or other fitness exercises.|
|Columbia University||Trees have been associated with lower asthma rates.|
I also did a quick survey of ten plant paladin readers asking them what they feel the major benefits of keeping bonsai trees are:
Finally, I popped down to my local botanical gardens and asked and employee them what they think the biggest health benefit of keeping bonsai trees are:
“The biggest benefit has to be a reduction in stress”
Now if you’re new to keeping bonsai I would recommend checking out the following blog posts:
- Why are bonsai pots shallow
- Bonsai trees and rainwater
- Are bonsai tree dog friendly?
- How big do bonsai trees get?
- How long do bonsai trees live?
My top picks for the gear you will need!
So like I mentioned earlier, over the past three years of running PlantPaladin, hundreds of people have asked me for my recommendations on the best bonsai gear on the market.
Having spent thousands of dollars on bonsai items these past few years and tested at least 100 bonsai-specific products, I’ve listed my favorite products below – All of which I highly recommend and think you can get great value.
They can purchase directly by clicking the link to take them to Amazon.
Bonsai Tool Set: One of the significant challenges I’ve had is finding a toolset that was not only durable but didn’t break the bank. SOLIGT has recently developed a fantastic bonsai tool set that covers all the tools you need to trim, prune, and repot your trees. – You can grab it here.
Complete Bonsai Set: Many of you will want to grow your bonsai trees entirely from scratch, but finding the varicose seeds, pots, and other items in one place can be challenging. Leaves and Sole then have created a complete bonsai set that I’ve personally used that ticks all the boxes. You can grab it here.
Bonsai wire: The number of times I’ve run out of wire for my bonsai or purchased cheap bonsai wire that doesn’t do the job is embarrassing for me to admit. After a lot of trial and error, I found that using Hotop’s aluminum bonsai wire is one of the best options on the market. This can easily be used for both indoor and outdoor bonsai. You can grab it here.
This post was written by Fehed Nicass who has been passionate about bonsai for over 2 years. He currently resides in the Uk and works in sales.