WHAT IS A BONSAI

Bonsai is a miniature tree. It is kept small by planting it in a shallow pot and by regular trimming of the roots, branches and new growth.

 

HISTORY

Chinese first began to transplant naturally dwarf trees from mountain and cliff terrains into ornamental containers, as early as the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. However, it was the Japanese who perfected the art of cultivating bonsai plants. Bonsai itself means a dwarf tree in a pot.

 

BONSAI STYLES

The most common styles are:

  • Formal upright: Straight trunk with evenly spread branches.
  • Informal upright: The trunk is not perfectly straight which has unevenbranches.
  • Slanted: The main trunk grows slightly bending sideway.
  • Semi Cascade: The tree grows cascading down to the side of the pot. The pot usually is high (not flat).
  • Cascade: The cascade is lower than the height of the pot.
  • Roots over rock: The roots of the tree are exposed and they clasp tightly around the surface of a rock.
  • Group planting (Sakai): More than one plant are grown in one pot, usually are in odd numbers.

 bonsai-collections

THE SUITABLE PLANTS

Basically almost all plants which are suitable for bonsai     

can be grown in Australia. For those from cooler

climate, the trees need protection from summer heat

and for tropical plants, they will need protection from

frost.

 

Plant examples commonly used for bonsai are:

  • Maples : Trident maple, Japanese maple
  • Ficus: Choose those with smaller leaves like for example F binjamina, F benghalensis
  • Azalea: A kurume, A satzuke
  • Conifers: pines, spruce, junipers
  • Elms: Chinese elm, English elm
  • Oaks
  • Birch
  • Cotton-easter
  • Lilli pilli

 

CARING FOR A BONSAI

 

Like any other trees, a bonsai needs water, nutrients and sunlight to survive. All bonsai plants have to be kept outdoor preferably in the position where they receive morning sun. Caring for bonsai trees will include all these procedures:

  • Training: A good bonsai will have a certain look and it is achieved by shaping the trunk and branches. Special wires in different sized are used for this purpose. Deciduous trees should be wired after the leaves have matured and the wires have to be removed in autumn to avoid damage to the bark.
  • Feeding: Use a weak liquid organic fertilizer at the intervals of two weeks during spring and summer. Solid organic fertilizer may also be used.
  • Pruning/Trimming: It is done to create and preserve a desired shape. It makes leaves grow smaller and compact. Heavy pruning is done in autumn, winter or early spring. While general pruning is done through out the growing season, by cutting back new growth.
  • Repotting: Generally it is done yearly, every two or three years late winter or early spring. For an easy guide, lift the plant from the pot and inspect the root once a year. A pot of the same size or slightly larger should be used. Root ball has to be loosened and it has to be trimmed to get rid of the excess. Repotting is done by always using fresh bonsai soil.
  • Watering: In summer, the watering is done at least once a day. In the winter, it will depend on the dryness of the soil. Avoid watering in the heat of the day.

 

I’ve found that growing bonsai trees is relaxing and it teaches you patience. Bonsai also makes you learn that “GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL SIZES”🙂