Dearest Doctor,

I’ve been wanting to grow a Bonsai tree, but I’m afraid I don’t know how.  Any advice?


The word “Bonsai” originally comes from the Greek words ‘Bon’, and ‘Sai’.  Bon is clearly short for ‘Bone’, and ‘Sai’ is a weapon that was created in feudal Japan during the reign of the Samurai and Ninja clans.  In Greek culture, when you combine two words, you simply ignore one of them.  (In this case ‘Sai’, since it’s a Japanese word that they didn’t know anyway.)  This leaves the word ‘Bone’ as the sole descriptor for these cute little trees.  Why they are named after a bone is a closely guarded secret of the Yakuza gangsters in Tokyo.

It was once believed that Bonsai Trees were the product of wise, little, wrinkly Japanese men who spent countless hours caring for these plants.  But Science has recently proven that Bonsai are no different than any other kind of tree.  It is simply a matter of treating the plants with little-to-no respect.  One might be led to believe that simply ignoring ones plant would suffice, but this is not the case.  Years of research with those little sticky electrode things have shown that trees often misinterpret being ignored as disinterest, rather than malice directed at them.  This is why so many trees become so very large.  It is a widely known fact that the redwood forests of California were largely ignored for hundreds, if not thousands of years; and the results are plain to see.  Massive, self-confidant woods as far as the eyes can see.  Regal and pompous, they snub their noses at nature, arrogantly growing so high that children dare not climb them.  These are trees that have forgotten their place.  The Bonsai tree knows its place, and that is its appeal.

So how does one grow a Bonsai tree?  It’s actually very intuitive.  Much like child rearing, it’s important to establish dominance early.  From the first day the seed is in the pot, you need to start a strict regimen of daily verbal abuse.  Remember, the point is to keep your plant so debilitated with self-loathing and bitterness that its twisted, pain wracked heart will manifest itself in a beautiful, miniature, graceful form.  If you miss even one day of slanderous hatred, it could defy you and break the 2 foot mark.  Should this occur, a machete whack to the top several inches should do the trick.  Here are some helpful phrases for berating your tree culled from the minds of master Bonsai growers:


  1. You are a worthless plant.
  2. You’ll never amount to anything.
  3. Shame.  Shaaaaaame on YOU!
  4. I never wanted you.  You were an accident!
  5. You stupid, pathetic MORON!
  6. I hate you and everything you stand for.
  7. Don’t take this personally, but you are a horrible tree.
  8. Why can’t you be more like the Joneses tree?
  9. Never give up!  Just kidding.  Give up!



So now you have a cute little tree.  What to do with it?  Here are some of the most popular activities that the owners of Bonsai trees take part in.


  1. Pose your G.I. Joe action figures around them and take pictures.
  2. Use the plant to dust hard to reach surfaces
  3. Give them away as party favors
  4. Sometimes, during hide-and-seek, you can get all of your body hidden behind the couch… but just your foot is sticking out.  Use the Bonsai to cover it.
  5. If you have a little yard, put it in the far corner and tell people it’s a full-size tree.  They will think that your yard is really, really big.
  6. Lighting  your Bonsai on fire creates a pleasant ‘burning tree’ aroma
  7. If you ever get stabbed by a Morgul blade, chew some Bonsai leaves and dress the wound with the paste.  It will slow the poison until you can get to Rivendell.
  8. Bonsai make beautiful fish tank decorations.  (And you won’t have to worry about watering it either.)
  9. Replace your current hood ornament



One last word of caution before you make the decision to grow a Bonsai.  Many Bonsai trees will become increasingly temperamental, and sometimes even dangerous as they get older.  It is recommended that you put them down before they hurt anyone.  Or alternately, you can take them out to the woods and leave them there.  But don’t forget to cry while it stares at you plaintively.  It will help if you tell it that you don’t love it any more, and that this is its home.  No matter how much it whines, you must leave it behind for its own good.



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