Bonsai is an art that combines artistic skills with a keen eye for details and balance with a lot of patience. Growing a bonsai tree at home will take years of dedicated care and understanding of the principles involved. If you plan to take up this art, here’s all you need to know about it.
Why Should You Grow Bonsai?
Bonsai brings together the best qualities of both a pet and a houseplant, it is a living entity that needs just enough of your care and attention without being demanding in your life. Here are five reasons for you to create bonsai plants:
1. It Takes Up Very Little Space
There are breeds of bonsai trees that can be cultivated to fit any space. Whether you want them on your desk, living room on outdoors, there are different species that can be grown for the purpose. You can also carry them wherever you go.
2. They are Easy to Care for
Many of the easy-to-grow bonsai trees are surprisingly low-maintenance. They adapt well to your home and thrive well with some sunshine and water every day, an occasional fertilizer and replanting once every few years. With that, they will live healthily and bloom over and over again, adding beauty to your living space.
3. Your Bonsai is your Personal Artistic Statement
Every bonsai is unique and grown as a result of your styling and its own quirks. You can work with them as they grow understanding their nature to bring out the best effect. With careful training and pruning, you can work to bring out its unique qualities, making it a work of art.
4. They Energize your Home
Bonsai trees have long been a part of the ancient art of Feng Shui as they are thought to draw life energy into the house and share it with everyone who passes by. They are often the centre of attention in a living space and spread joy and contentment to everybody who comes to see it.
5. Your Bonsai can Become your Companion for Life
Bonsai trees can live for decades when they are properly cared for and become your companion for life. Some of the bonsai species can live for hundreds of years and thus, outlive you as well. The oldest bonsai trees in the world are over 800 years old and were passed down from generations.
What are the Different Ways of Planting Bonsai?
There are five ways on how to grow bonsai plants:
1. Growing from Seeds
If you wish to start from scratch, growing them from seeds is the way to go. It’s also a great way to grow larger number of trees at a low cost with the added advantage of getting your hands on some really good quality trees. You can either collect the seeds of trees such as conifers, birch and beech of the trees or have them shipped to you by a supplier. The seedlings you grow can have some useful variations perfect for bonsai, and the rest can be discarded.
2. Growing from Seedlings
City dwellers who wish to do most of the growing on their own but lack the space to sow a large number of seeds can start growing their bonsai from saplings. As the seeds of some of the hard coated types such as beech, quince, ginkgo, yew and lime take time to germinate, about two years or more can be saved by starting from seedlings bought from nurseries.
3. Growing from Cuttings
Cutting is a quick way to obtain a young plant if you wish to save more time. For many of the bonsai species, it’s also the ideal way to grow. The advantage of growing a bonsai tree from a cutting is that you know exactly how it will turn out to be as they inherit the same characteristics as their parent tree.
4. Growing by Layering
Flowering shrubs and trees whose shoots can be easily bent to the soil can be propagated by this method. A healthy shoot of a one-year-old plant is given a slit at the tip and bent to touch the soil. It is then pegged, and the sit shoot is covered with a good amount of soil and watered regularly. When they are layered around spring, the new plant will be ready by autumn for harvest and re-potting.
5. Growing from Wild Plants
Growing from wild plants is the way a bonsai enthusiast looks to bring out the naturalness of the trees and preserve the most fundamental philosophy behind the art. By looking among the seedlings of wilt trees and shrubs you may find specimens with interesting qualities that can be used in the art.
How to Grow and Maintain Bonsai Plant?
Whether choose to grow a shrub, a conifer or bonsai fruit trees, these steps are common to all:
1. Preparation of Growing Medium
Bonsai pots are available in different sizes and shapes such as circular, triangular, square or rectangles. You will need the right kind of pot with adequate room for soil and a good drainage to remove excess water. Red soil commonly used in gardening has good aeration and nutrient retention properties which works well with manure when used in a 50-50 ratio. Aggregates also need to be used to ensure proper drainage of excess water.
2. Planting the Bonsai
A nursery is your best bet to find trees or shrubs suited for bonsai. Flowering shrubs such as Jasmine, Azalea or Bougainvillea do well in all weather conditions. If you wish to grow a fruit the exotic way, lime, fig, peach, guava and cherry work well. You could also pick up saplings of Peepal or Banyan trees from parks, botanical gardens or rural areas. Extra caution should be taken while re-potting the bonsai and you need to ensure the soil has adequate moisture in it at all times.
3. Watering the Bonsai
The watering needs of different trees vary according to the type and season. Ensure you water them every day just enough to keep the soil moist but not so much that they cause the roots to rot. The soil needs to hold enough moisture such that you can easily thrust a dowel into it and it doesn’t come out with wet mud stuck to it. Use fresh, clean water only and avoid using recycled water.
4. Pruning the Bonsai
Pruning the branches and roots of the tree is part of the training techniques that are important in shaping it. Trimming encourages new growth so you can define the shape the way you need it. Trimming the roots helps keep it within the pot and eliminate diseased sections at the same time. It improves nutrition and water absorption characteristics of the root and helps in growth. Pruning requires skills, and you need the right tools such as scissors or pruning shears.
5. Using Fertilizers to Aid Growth
Although you’ve added enough manure, bonsai trees need fertilisers to supplement for the elements they lack or draw more when they are flowering or bearing fruit. Different fertilisers are available for specific functions such as flowering, bearing fruit or growing mini bonsai tree faster. Choose the right type of fertiliser needed and use them during the growing season of your tree.
6. Repotting the Bonsai
Re-potting is necessary to replenish the lost nutrients in the soil and also to accommodate the growth of your bonsai tree. Faster growing trees may need to be re-potted once a year while the slower growing ones do well when re-potted once every two or three years. Since it is a delicate operation, it’s best done under an expert’s guidance the first time.
7. Wiring the Bonsai
Wiring is another important aspect of training the bonsai trees to develop into the shapes you envision for them. Aluminium or copper wires found with suppliers will suffice for the process, most bonsai enthusiasts use aluminium as it is softer and easy to work with. Wire training must be done on a tree that’s well adjusted to its life and is flexible. The right time to wire is after re-potting for all trees, however, seasons vary depending on the species of the tree. Deciduous trees are best wired in spring while coniferous trees are best wired later winter or early autumn.
8. Controlling Pests and Diseases
Diseases and pests can turn out to be some of the worse enemies of your bonsai tree. You need to be on the lookout for common fungal and bacterial diseases that tend to destroy trees. Re-potting and organic pesticides are good ways to keep your little tree from getting sick. You also need to ensure that the tree receives a good balance of nutrients and nothing in excess, which can harm it.
1. What Does A Bonsai Tree Symbolize?
Bonsai communicates the ideas and emotions of oriental philosophy using the symbolism of its art. It involves the representation of deep metaphysical ideas such as balance, simplicity, harmony and time.
2. Which Bonsai Tree is Best for Indoors?
The Ficus is among the most popular of the trees used in bonsai. Especially Ficus benjamina and Ficus neriifolia are preferred for their ease of growing for beginners.
3. When Should I Wire My Bonsai?
For most tree species, wiring can be done anytime throughout the year. Deciduous trees are best wired during late winter as the absence of leaves makes the process easier. Caution should be exercised during the growth season as branches can thicken quite fast, causing the wires to cut into them leaving behind scars.
4. Does Bonsai Tree Bring Luck?
Some believe that bonsai trees brink positivity and good luck when displayed at home. Trees that are acquired as a gift are believed to bring more luck than those that have been purchased.
5. Can You Revive A Bonsai Tree?
If your bonsai tree has turned brown instead of being green or yellow, you can check for life by giving it a little scratch with your fingernail or a clipper. If there’s still some soft tissue underneath,
With proper care, it is possible to revive the dying bonsai tree. If you apply a little pressure on the branches and they snap off crisply, the tree is dead completely.
The art of bonsai can be taken up by anyone who is willing to apply themselves to the discipline to cultivating these magnificent miniature trees. The result is worth the years and effort that go into it.