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You are here : home > Home and Decor > Gardens > Grow your own Bonsai Tree

Grow your own Bonsai Tree


Bonsai trees are small, yet enchanting. Learn how to grow one of these little wonders in your own home.


Bonsai is an ancient Asian gardening art. It involves deliberately stunting the growth of a tree to obtain a miniature version, purely for aesthetic purposes. Besides being stunted, the tree may also be shaped to make it more visually appealing. Perfecting the art of growing bonsai trees usually requires years of practice. However, with a little effort and patience, you too can make your own beautiful little bonsai tree. All you need is to remember a few basic steps, and carry them out with the help of some garden implements.


The Art of Bonsai

Bonsai is assumed to have originated in China around the year 200 A.D. It is said to have been developed by the Chinese healers who had to transport medicinal herbs and plants over great distances to attend to people who were ill or injured. The healers had to make sure the plants stayed fresh and did not lose their potency. Since they could not transport large trees wherever they went, the healers began to devise ways to shrink the plants and still keep them healthy.

Although deliberately shortening plants was initially done for practical purposes, this craft also began to be seen as a decorative art. Early attempts at making bonsai trees appear visually appealing, involved growing and twisting them into different shapes. Popular among these were those that resembled animals or mystical symbols. The art of developing bonsai trees grew immensely when it was exported to Japan in 800 A.D. The Japanese focused on growing bonsai trees for landscaping purposes and this style of growing bonsai trees is what is prevalent even today.


Preliminary Steps Involved

As a beginner, it is best to obtain your cutting of the bonsai sapling from a nursery that stocks them. Select plants that are hardy, such as evergreen varieties or a species of bamboo. While choosing your sapling, opt for one with plenty of leaves and a sturdy trunk. You should also have some idea of what you want your plant to look like since you will have to mould it accordingly.

Your plant will then have to be planted in a suitable pot. Select the pot keeping in mind that it should be able to hold enough soil to cover the roots of the plant. At the same time, the pot should not be too small or it will not be able to give the plant the support it needs.

The key to keeping your tree small as it grows is to prevent its roots from growing too long. Before you plant your sapling in its pot, cut away one third of the roots beginning from the ends that are farthest from the stem. Focus especially on trimming the thicker roots. You will also have to trim the fine feeder roots slightly. Feeder roots are slender roots that grow close to the surface of the soil. These are the roots that are going to provide your tree with most of its nourishment.

Besides trimming the roots, your plant will also have to be pruned in order for it to be prepared to assume the desired shape. You can do this with a pair of pruning shears, and use a picture as a reference point for making the required changes. Ideally, your tree should have three well-defined sections. The lowest section will be the tree trunk, and hence, should be free of any branches. The middle section should have a few branches that extend in all directions. The top section should have many short branches and should also have a defined apex portion that resembles the pinnacle.

Once the pruning adjustments have been made, your sapling is ready to be potted. Place your sapling in a small pot with some soil and make sure the roots are covered completely. You can use basic potting soil to do this although bonsai dirt is preferable due to its better drainage properties. Bonsai dirt is nothing but a mixture of two parts each of granite grit and peat moss, with one part of loamy soil.


Maintaining your Bonsai

A bonsai needs to be 'trained' so that it grows according to how you want it. This is done using aluminium wire. The wire is wound loosely around the tree trunk, at the place where the change needs to be made. That part of the tree is then gently bent into its new form. The tree needs to be constantly monitored so that the wire does not create scars in the tree as it grows. Also, avoid trying to bend parts of the tree that are already hard as this may result in the tree breaking. Once the tree has assumed its form, you can remove the wire.

The leaves on the tree also need to be trimmed regularly in order to control the growth of the foliage. As with all plants, your bonsai requires adequate amounts of water and sunlight to grow and remain healthy. You will also need to add small amounts of fertiliser to the soil to replenish its nutrients. Your bonsai will also have to be repotted after every two years. Before repotting, the roots are trimmed again, since they will have grown over this period.


Criticisms of this Practice

There are many people who believe that growing a bonsai tree is a very cruel practice. This is because they assume that a tree needs to be 'starved' of its required nutrients in order to stunt its growth. They also perceive the pruning process as unhealthy and think that it weakens the tree's foundation. All these fears are baseless. The pruning process does not damage the tree's ability to receive nourishment from the soil. Also, a bonsai tree is watered more often than a regular-sized tree to ensure that it receives its share of nutrients.


Creative Juices and Joys

If given the proper nourishment and care, your bonsai tree will live a long, healthy life. It may even live longer than the trees from the same family that grow in natural surroundings. You will enjoy seeing all the same changes that you normally observe on bigger trees; for example, changes like fruiting, flowering, leaf changes, etc. It may even inspire you to create a nursery full of these pint-sized beauties.

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7 Comments
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Jaco.3 years ago
If you want to see Bonsai evolution pictures to better understand how to make bonsai see: bonsai.diyhomegarden.eu
 
 
 
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Veebhu saha.6 years ago
Growing a bonsai is much hard work but seeing the results after a hard work takes away all the pains.
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Kendall.6 years ago
it would be better if you give step by step pictures. Video will be much better....
 
 
 
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William Anderson.8 years ago
Great post for giving out such tips for growing a bonsai. I have also found a good source for bonsai making. Thanks for sharing!
 
 
 
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Discussion Forum - Recent Posts
What do you think about bonsai trees? Do they fascinate you? Have you ever tried to grow a bonsai tree yourself?
Kiran
I liked reading this article. Maybe I will give this art a try. I would like to be able to create a cute little bonsai tree of my own. Does anyone know of some books I can go through for further refer...
Vaibhav
I always assumed that bonsai trees were starved of their nutrients to achieve such a small size. After reading this article, I realised that this is not the case. A gardener has to take special care o...
Murugan
I am an amateur bonsai artist. There is tremendous work involved in this field and results take years to achieve. Having said that, the joy you get when you finally see the fruits of your labour is in...
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