Grow A Potato Bonsai Tree

The word ‘bonsai’ in Japanese means “planted in a container”.
The ancient art of bonsai involves choosing a young tree or other plant that would usually grow large and planting it in a container. Special care is then taken so the tree develops into its full natural shape and beauty in miniature. The difference between bonsai and ordinary potted plants is that usually the focus of the potted plant is on the flowers or leaves. With a bonsai, the beauty of the entire tree and how it looks in the container is what matters.
Growing a potato bonsai plant can show kids how tubers grow and can help teach them the basics of the responsibility and patience required to grow plants.

Potatoes with budding ‘chits’ on them.

For your bonsai potato project, you will need:
  • a sprouted (chitted) potato
  • very small gravel stones
  • potting soil
  • a shallow container
  • scissors
  1. First, you need to prepare your potato bonsai container. If you are using a special bonsai pot, you won’t need to do anything. If you are using a shallow plastic container you’ll need to drill or cut small holes in the bottom for drainage. You can paint or decorate the container as well.
  2. Next, take a look at your sprouted potato. Right now, the sprouts should be a pale colour and have not formed themselves into leaves yet. The pale sprouts will become either roots or leaves, depending on the environment they are put into. Decide which side of the potato will grow into the best potato bonsai tree. Lay the potato into the container with the potato bonsai tree side upwards.
  3. Fill the container with potting soil about half way up the potato. Then use the small gravel stones to fill the container up to the three quarter way mark on the potato.
  4. Add water to your bonsai potato container and place it in a sunny window.


The leaves on your potato bonsai tree will start to appear in 2-3 weeks. A potato bonsai growing in warmer conditions will sprout leaves faster than ones growing in cooler conditions. Also, some sprouts will grow up from beneath the gravel line. These sprouts should be removed. Only keep the sprouts that grow from the part of the potato that appears above the soil.

Water your potato bonsai once a week if it is growing indoors, and once a day, if it is growing outdoors.
Once your potato bonsai tree has several leaves on the sprout, you can start pruning your potato bonsai. Shape the individual stems as though they were actual bonsai trees.   
Be sure to remind children not to trim too much off the plant. Go slowly. More can be taken off, but you can’t put it back on if too much is taken off. If by chance a child does take too much off, not to worry. Potato bonsai gardening is a forgiving art form. Place the potato bonsai back into a sunny spot and it will regrow.
Keep your potato bonsai watered and trimmed and it will last quite some time. As long as the potato is kept healthy and is not overwatered or underwatered, you should not see any rot or decay.
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