The Art Of Bonsai

Information on the history and practice of growing bonsai trees.

The art of Bonsai began with the Chinese in 200 AD who used it as a form of philosophy. By the 6th century Japan had learned and embraced China's art of Bonsai as well. The word Bonsai is actually composed of two meanings, "Bon" meaning tray or pot and "Sai" meaning planting.

Bonsai are not generally small, in fact most Bonsai are usually anywhere from 2 inches to a little over 3 feet tall. Pine is the most widely used tree for Bonsai although it is not uncommon for other trees to be used as well. The Bonsai needs a lot of care and maintenance or the tree might not survive. If they are properly cared for

Bonsai can live for hundreds of years.

Bonsai can be started simply from seeds, cuttings or nursery stock, and are generally an outdoor tree. There are a few varieties of Bonsai that can be grown indoors however. Gardenia, Norfolk pine, azalea, Ficus and Boxwood are all good choices for indoors while Hawthorn, Juniper, Pine, Maple and Ginkgo are a good choice for outdoors.

After you've decided on your Bonsai, training is the next step. Training, also known as shaping, usually consists of several techniques with the most common being wiring and also the most important. While some think wiring is used to keep the Bonsai small, it is actually used to form the leaves into a desired shape instead.

Two methods of wiring are duo and single-wiring. Single-wiring consists of wrapping a single branch with one wire while duo pertains to wrapping two branches. Copper and annealed aluminum are the two types of Bonsai wire available although aluminum is recommended for beginners. Aluminum is more pliable than copper and can even be colored to look like copper if one desires.

What size of wire to use will depend on your branch's size and how you want the branch to look. Wiring can be done all year round, but the winter time is recommended when the Bonsai have no leaves since it is much easier to work with. You should never water your Bonsai the day before you are planning to wire since the branches will need to be flexible enough to work with. Wire should be wrapped firm, but not too tight and always start from the base and work your way up. When the wire is ready to be removed be sure to use a Bonsai wire cutter and cut only at each bend to prevent any damage. Never use pliers or unwind the wire since it will damage your Bonsai. You should also remember that the wire should only be left on the Bonsai temporarily, somewhere between six to twelve months and should be checked on a regular basis to make sure it's not cutting into the branch. Keep in mind that not all plants will require wiring to get the look you want. Some plants can be trained without the use of wire.

Trimming, a technique that should only be done to Bonsai that are healthy requires the use of shears or scissors to trim the tree and remove small branches and foliage. To trim the leaves of a Bonsai you must cut through the leave stalk. Once you have removed all of the leaves from the tree it will produce new leaves that are smaller and branches that are finer. Branches that are the same height as your Bonsai should be trimmed as well as any that are parallel or are wrapped around the trunk of the tree. Branches that grow on the bottom half of the tree as well as the front should also be trimmed, leaving only the sides and back branches intact.

Another technique is pruning or defoliation which speeds up the growing process and removes excess leaves. One of the most common ways for pruning a Bonsai is "finger pruning." "Finger pruning" consists of using a twisting motion with your fingers to remove any new growth that does not allow your Bonsai's shape to look natural. It is also said to be better than trimming since scissors can cause the foliage to turn brown and look unnatural and this is especially true with trees such as the Juniper. However you should also remember not remove the new growth all at once for your Bonsai's health and always check your particular Bonsai's best time for pruning since each plant will vary. You should also cut the Bonsai's root and transfer it into a new pot about every two to five years to keep its small form.

Having the proper tools will also help to aide in the training and care of your Bonsai. A few essential tools you'll want to consider having are concave cutters, wire cutters and shears.

Concave cutters assist in the trimming of your Bonsai's branches and are the best tool for removing any size branches without damaging results. Wire Cutters, specifically Bonsai wire cutters, will be necessary if you plan to use wire to shape your Bonsai.

You will also want to invest in a pair of shears that should only be used for trimming your Bonsai. You can purchase shears made specifically for Bonsai and you might want to consider doing so if your budget will allow for it.

Once you are familiar with the training techniques you'll want to decide on a style for your Bonsai. Five common styles of Bonsai are Formal and informal upright, cascade and semi-cascade, and slanting, also known as windswept.

Formal upright is the most common of the styles with the trunk of the tree being straight and vertical in shape. An informal upright's tree bend naturally to the right or left whether by wind, sun or shade, and should not face the viewer. A Cascade's trunk has a natural taper allowing the look of being forced down by nature with a winding effect in the trunk itself.

Semi-Cascade involves the same as cascade only it does not drop down below the base unlike the Cascade. Slanting or Windswept consists of a slant that naturally occurs letting the whole tree lean at an angle.

Don't forget your Bonsai should be watered every day or so as any ordinary plant would and placed outdoors in a sunny location away from severe weather conditions. And finally, when displaying your Bonsai you should always remember to keep things simple by allowing your tree to be clutter-free so that viewers can appreciate it's natural beauty as it was intended.

Trending Now

© High Speed Ventures 2011