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Bonsai: The Japanese Art of Growing Miniature Trees

As an art, Bonsai is not just about the appreciation of the beauty of little trees. It also entails extraordinary patience, discipline and a long-term commitment, since bonsai trees require years of cultivation, plant training, and shaping. Indeed, knowing how to take care of bonsai trees is truly a rewarding experience.

How to Start Growing Bonsai Trees

Choose the plant species and bonsai style

Before delving deep into the care of bonsai trees, the first thing any grower must consider is the bonsai variety or species to be cultivated. Trees are not the only plants used in bonsai, as perennial shrubs with woody stems have also become trendy choices for growing bonsai plants. Among the most popular for bonsai development are Japanese Zelkova and Lacebark Elm.

Bonsai plants are classified into four major styles which partly dictate how to take care of them:

  • Formal upright – It is characterized by its upright trunk.
  • Informal upright – The plant still has an upright trunk, but some curved and/or angled edges can be observed.
  • Slanted – The trunk curves towards a certain direction, emerging from the soil at an angle.
  • Cascade – The trunk initially grows at an angle, and its apex hangs downwards to the base of its complementary pot.

Pick a container for your bonsai plant

While it might sound unbelievable, the success of the growth of your bonsai plant partly depends on the container you choose before you begin cultivating.

Beauty is an essential element of a successful bonsai, and the appearance of the plant and where it is contained should be complementary. In other words, the container should match the type and style of the bonsai plant.

Usually, this depends on the planned style of the bonsai. For example, angular containers (square, rectangular or polygonal) are used when growing formal upright bonsai plants. On the other hand, bonsai plants trained to have curved trunks are planted in circular pots or other round-shaped containers.

The texture of the pot should also be considered. Evergreens are often planted in earth-toned unglazed clay or ceramic pots. Whereas, flowering or deciduous bonsai plants are usually planted in soft-colored glazed training containers.

Prepare the potting medium for your bonsai plant

Choose a potting medium that suits the hydration requirements of your chosen plant. There are numerous types of custom-mixed specialty soil for bonsai plants available in the market, and mineral-rich soil mixed with rocks and bark chips make up an ideal potting medium.

Plant your bonsai plant

First, lay a piece of wire screen on the inside bottom of the pot, which will keep the soil from falling through the draining holes of the container. Then fill half of the pot with potting soil.

Next, remove the clumps of dirt clinging to the roots of the plant. Gently detangle the roots afterward. Sever any unhealthy roots and spread the roots widely.

Finally plant the bonsai and fill the pot with the remaining soil. Make sure that the soil is evenly distributed in the pot.

Nourish your new bonsai plant

After you have planted your bonsai, it’s time to hydrate and nourish the plant. Water it often and add some organic materials like moss and rock chips to the dirt. Moss is a good source of nutrients, and it can enhance the appearance of the bonsai. Using too much water on each occasion is not advised however, so avoid using a high-pressure watering tool to not end up overwatering.

All that’s left is to wait until your plant becomes accustomed to the environment. Until then, hold off any shaping, pruning, pinching, or any plant training.

Why You Should Consider Growing Your Own Bonsai Trees

Apart from their aesthetics and high market worth, bonsai trees are well-valued for their therapeutic effects. Bonsai trees that are placed indoors give a refreshingly unique atmosphere. They add a pop of color to an otherwise dull room or space. More than just a botanical ornament, bonsai plants emit life and energy that provide a calming feeling to growers and viewers alike.

How to Take Care of Bonsai Trees and Plants

The following are simple tips to remember when growing a bonsai:

  • Place the bonsai plant where it gets ample sunlight, but make sure not to overexpose the plant to avoid burning the leaf tips
  • Water often but measured
  • Fertilize your bonsai plant with nitrogen-balanced fertilizers

Shaping the Bonsai

Those experienced in caring for bonsai trees understand that shaping or plant training is a significant part of the process. Shaping is when the angle and direction in which the tree or plant grows is manipulated, and two of the most common methods to do so are:

  • Tying – A piece of rope is tied to the plant to gently bend the branches or create curves on the trunk itself.
  • Wiring – Coiling thin wires to create tension around the trunk with which the trunk is shaped using the pressure created.

Knowing how to take care of bonsai trees might not be enough to grow a bonsai successfully. Along with the technical aspects of cultivating the plant, as previously mentioned, it is determination and patience which arguably makes a bonsai planting project satisfying and truly rewarding in the end.

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