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October 14, 2017

How can I grow my own bonsai trees?

What are bonsai trees?

Bonsai trees can be all kinds of trees and shrubs that are grown in small pots to limit their growth and are cut extensively to bring them into an ideal shape. We mostly know bonsai from Japanese culture, but the art has also been practiced for centuries in Vietnam and China (where its origins are). Bonsai are not merely meant to be pretty adornments for one’s home, but they also transport the meaning of harmony between nature (symbolized by the tree) and mankind (symbolized by its creation – the pot).

What kind of tree is a bonsai?

Bonsai can be all kind of trees or shrubs – they don’t belong to a certain species, but their essence is rather the techniques that are used to create them: Leaf trimming, pruning (of trunk, branches, and roots) and wiring. There are also other common techniques, but these are the most important.

How can I grow my own bonsai trees?If you want to create your own bonsai trees from scratch, you can, therefore, use the kind of tree you like best. Pines, elms, and maples are quite common for traditional bonsai trees; but for beginners, I would recommend ficus, which is quite flexible and not too demanding. Azaleas are also great plants for beginners (and they have beautiful blossoms).

How and where can I get a plant?

You can grow new plants from seeds, acquire young trees from gardening centers or find and dig out trees in their natural environment (which may or may not be illegal in your respective state).

How exactly is a bonsai created and maintained?

The idea of a bonsai is that of a nature-like tree in miniature size. Of course, interesting forms are more attractive than standard and symmetric ones. Your bonsai may lean to one side, feature tree-holes etc.

As a first step, you should create the general shape your plant by cutting off some of the branches; you may also use wire to force the plant into the shape you have in mind – this is especially important if you want to grow a cascade or half cascade form. Subbranches should be cut off from time to time to prevent the plant from getting too large and to provide a dendritic and branched growth. Here is a nice guide to essential tools for gardening bonsai.

How can I grow my own bonsai trees?

Where should I place my bonsai?

While most bonsai trees in western countries are kept outside the house, bonsai in East-Asian countries are often kept outside. You should, however, be careful of low temperatures, as bonsai are more sensitive to frost than their “normal” counterparts. Pay attention to the placement: Your bonsai should have a light spot, as its leaves are quite small and not able to absorb so much light.

I hope you liked this short introduction to the care for bonsai trees. It’s quite general; I want to delve deeper into the subject on how you can shape your bonsai in following articles. If this article aroused your interest, I can recommend the great site that features nice pictures and bonsai projects.