If you’re a beginner and want to learn What is a Bonsai Tree? and How To Grow A Bonsai Tree, you’ve come to the right place.
Bonsai Tree is an oriental art form that uses miniature trees in trays/pots as the canvas. The word bonsai (often mis-spelled as bonzai, bonzi and bosai) literally translates as plantings in a tray from the japanese; bon (tray) and sai (plantings).
This article is dedicated to providing practical advice for the beginner bonsai enthusiast to help them learn all about the ancient art of bonsai.
And (if you didn’t know already) bonsai is indeed an art form – an art that allows you to be creative, let your imagination run wild and touch you on a deep spiritual level.
Partaking in bonsai can help you achieve a deep meditative state, allowing your mind and body to relax and release all the stressesof day-to-day life.
As well as being good for the spirit, bonsai is also good for both your physical and mental faculties.
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Pruning and wiring your bonsai are skillful techniques that develop dexterity and hand-to-eye co-ordination.
You will also develop your artistic talents as you work on your bonsai learning about shape and form amongst other things.
In addition, you will learn a great deal about horticultural practices and how to care for and nurture plant life as you manipulate your bonsai tree to bring to life your own ideas.
What is a Bonsai Tree?
First, let me do away with the common misconception that bonsai is a species of tree.
It is not.
Bonsai is an art-form, and like other forms of art aims to provoke the senses, emotions and thoughts of the viewer. The bonsai artist attempts this by creating, growing, warping and training a miniature tree in a pot to conform to his or her overall idealistic goal.
Like all art forms, there is no right or wrong (although there are guidelines) and every unique bonsai creation has merit of it’s own.
Benefits of Bonsai Tree
- Bonsai not only gives an artist the opportunity to create something beautiful, but also provides stimulation on an intellectual and spiritual level.
- Bonsai artists have a solid knowledge of horticulture and the techniques associated with this speciality including pruning and wiring. And because the artist is creating an artificial representation of natural beauty they often find themselves subconsciously learning about the living world around them and start looking at nature in a different way.
- Bonsai Tree artistry also touches the spiritual side and, when working on their trees, the bonsai artist can reach a deeply meditative state of mind.
Bonsai Tree Species
Many species of tree can be utilised in bonsai including (but not limited to) maple, larch, elm, beech, pomegranate, crab apple, fir, birch and cedar.
The choice of species will depend on the bonsai style that the bonsai artist is aiming to achieve. The various styles are each miniature representations of how a full-sized tree may grow in nature based on it’s environment.
For example, the Fukinagashi style depicts a tree that has grown in area that is exposed to very strong winds and the Kengai style depicts a tree that has grown in a mountainous region.
How To Start A Bonsai Tree
Bonsai tree begins with a small, stunted tree or sapling that is placed in a pot, providing the bonsai artist with the ‘canvas’ with which to perform his work.
Alternatively, the artist’s starting point can be the planting of seeds in the pot, which gives them more control and power over their final design.
Obviously, working from the seed takes longer and requires more skill, so the beginner bonsai artist is recommended to start their training with a ready-grown tree.
Which Is The Best Bonsai Tree For Beginners?
Bonsai Styles are used by bonsai enthusiasts to classify the many different shapes and forms of bonsai trees. It is important that the beginner bonsai artist get a grasp of and practice with the different kinds of styles when they are starting out, so here you will find a list of bonsai styles in both text and pictorial form.
Bear in mind, however, that rules are made to be broken and as you become a more advanced bonsai artist, you will develop your own artistic style.
Formal Upright Style (CHOKKAN)
One of the most common and most difficult bonsai styles, the Formal Upright or Chokkan style represents a tree that has grown in near-perfect conditions.
The trunk goes straight up and is completely straight with visible tapering (i.e. it is thickest at the bottom and grows increasingly thinner as it gets higher). The shape can be described as triangular or cone-like.
This style is suitable for larches, pines, spruces, maples and junipers.
Informal Upright Style (MOYOGI)
Similar to the Formal Upright style, the Informal Upright or Moyogi style is very common in nature.
It has a trunk that tapers to a point at the top, however the trunk is not completely vertical and the form is not symmetrical – instead it bends in a kind of ‘S’ shape. The apex will often bend forward, towards the viewer to give added depth.
This style works very well for maple (specifically, japanese maple) but beech, conifers and even some fruit trees, such as pomegranate can be used.
Bonsai Styles: Slanting StyleSlanting Style (SHAKKAN)
The Slanting Style, or Shakkan, represents a tree that has grown at an angle due to environmental factors such as wind or lack of sunlight.
The trunk should taper towards the apex and the can either be straight (formal) or bent (informal) but should grow at an acute angle relative to the ground.
Most species can be used successfully for this style.
Broom StyleBroom Style (HOKIDACHI)
The Broom Style or Hokidachi is a popular styling choice amongst beginners.
The main point of note is that there is a lot of symmetrical branching that begins from about a third of the way up the trunk. The shape is similar to a broom, from which it gets it’s name.
This style works best for deciduous trees with fine branching formats such as elms.
Literati StyleLiterati Style (BUNJINGI)
The Literati, or Bunjingi Style represents a tree that has struggled to survive due to competition.
It has a tall, crooked trunk with branching and foliage only at the very top of the tree, depicting the battle it has wrought togrow taller than the other trees close by.
Pines, junipers and cedars work well for this style.
Cascade StyleCascade Style (KENGAI)
The Cascade, or Kengai style represents a tree that has grown in the adverse weather conditions of mountainous regions.
They are plantedin tall pots so that they can be trained to grow in a downward direction (after a brief initial phase of growing upwards) and overhang the edge.
This style can be achieved with most species.
Semi-Cascade StyleSemi-Cascade Style (HAN-KENGAI)
The Semi-Cascade, or Han-Kengai style is very similar to the cascade style.
The main difference is that the trunk does not grow below the base of the pot but some of the branching does.
Again, this style can be achieved with most bonsai species.
Windswept StyleWindswept Style (FUKINAGASHI)
The Windswept, or Fukinagashi style represents a tree that has grown in an area with strong, predominately uni-directional winds.
The branches are all bent to grow in the same direction to give the impression ofit being windswept.
Pine and junipers are good species to use for this style.
Double TrunkTwin-Trunk Style (SOKAN)
The Twin-Trunk, or Sokan style represents the common natural occurance of two trunks growing froma single root system.
One trunk is usually thinner than the main (thicker) trunk and grows at a slight angle.
Most species of bonsai can be used for this style.
Forest StyleForest Style (YOSE-UYE)
As the name suggests, the Forest, or Yose-Uye style depicts forestation. Due to the amount of care and attention required, this is probably one of the most difficult styles to achieve successfully.
This style is achieved by planting many trees in a natural staggered pattern in the same pot. The tallest trees are planted in the middle with smaller trees planted in decreasing height towards the rim.
Many species can be used for this style including maple, elm and ficus.
The Growing-on-Rock, or Seki-Joju style represents a tree growing on rocky terrain.
The roots are arranged so that they grow over a rock and into the pot.
Most species can be used for this style.
The Basic Care of a Bonsai Tree: Watering, Positioning, and Fertilizing
You adore your little Bonsai tree. It is just as unique as you are! However, just like different animals eat different types of food; different plant species require specialized care.
In order to grow a Bonsai tree, you will need to understand its particular needs when it comes to watering, fertilizing, and repotting. Of course, all plants grow with sunlight, but different trees flourish at a particular temperature and position.
Compared to the average indoor plant, a Bonsai tree is very delicate and exceptional. This one-of-a-kind plant must be set in the perfect position in order for it to grow properly.
You can help your Bonsai tree blossom by following a few basic guidelines. You do not need a green thumb to grasp these standard concepts.
Whether you have a large garden, landscaped yard, or simply a beautiful Bonsai tree, you should get ready for the endless compliments and rave reviews from your friends, family, and neighbors.
Watering Your Bonsai Tree
It is common sense that you have to water your plants. However, watering a Bonsai tree depends on a number of factors including:
- Species of tree
- Pot size
It is crucial to determine these elements before simply watering your Bonsai tree every day.
You must monitor it carefully. When the soil is slightly dry, you should water it; in fact, the soil should still be damp. Do not wait until it is completely dry! As you water your Bonsai tree, do it in a thorough manner, so it reaches the entire root mass.
Positioning Your Bonsai Tree
One of the more critical factors in the life of your Bonsai tree is putting it in the right spot.
I am sure there are several enchanting places you could position your plant, but it is essential you find the perfect location for its well-being. Once again, you must determine what species the Bonsai tree is in order to provide the ideal type of care.
For starters, any indoor plant needs a warm environment with lots of light. Do you have a window facing south in your home? This may be the best spot in terms of getting enough light.
Outdoor trees grow better in lower temperatures, so it is important to consider where you want your Bonsai tree to bloom.
Fertilizing Your Bonsai Tree
Because Bonsai trees are naturally small, they can flourish well in small pots. You must fertilize the pot regularly in order to replenish the essential nutrients.
Although you can use any type of fertilizer, there are specialized Bonsai fertilizers. Whatever is more affordable to your budget is fine, but be sure not to use too much.
You need to read the instructions carefully and follow them accordingly in order to help you Bonsai tree grow. Pay close attention to the quantity and timing.
After you gain knowledge of the watering, positioning, and fertilizing basics, your Bonsai tree will be a stunning addition to your home. You will take pride in caring for it and enjoy showing your guests what a magnificent species the Bonsai tree is!