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How to Grow and Care for the Bonsai Tree
There is no mystery behind the much-celebrated synergy between nature and man. For starters, plants and trees help clean the air we breathe. They buffer noise from our surroundings, cool our homes and streets, and are a great source of whole foods. Some plants even possess excellent healing properties, for example, turmeric.
Asides from the aesthetically pleasing elements they bring to our homes, plants, and trees tend to increase property value. This implies that you’re getting actual value for growing and nurturing your plants.
It doesn’t take an expert to recognize that the relationship between man and plants is a perfect one. We give our time and effort to ensure that our plants receive the right amounts of water and sunlight. In return, they bloom with beauty providing us clean air and good food, making us happier, healthier humans.
This post will discuss the Bonsai Plant, its origin, what it symbolizes, and how to grow and nurture this emblem of beauty.
What is the Bonsai Plant?
Bonsai is an umbrella term for miniature trees and plants grown in containers to look very aesthetically pleasing. There are many types of Bonsai plants, such as the Pine Tree and Japanese maple Bonsai, which are suitable for outdoors, and the Ficus and Carmona Bonsai, which thrive better when kept indoors.
Although the horticultural practice of planting trees in containers was derived from ancient Chinese Culture, the etymology of the word “bonsai” is from Japan, where the art was then reinvented under Japanese Zen Buddhism in the 12th century. Bonsai was coined from two Japanese words, “bon,” meaning “tray,” and “sai,” which means “planting.” The development of Chinese and Korean ceramics played an essential role in the evolution of Bonsai as we know it today because a considerable part of its uniqueness comes from the tray in which it is cultivated.
Unlike other plant cultivation practices, the Bonsai Tree is not intended to produce food and medicine. Instead, Bonsai cultivation focuses on long-term pruning and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container. The Bonsai plant serves as an element of intrigue to viewers and a fulfilling exercise of effort and ingenuity for the grower. The Bonsai is also respected for its ability to draw life energies into a room. As a focus of sight, conversation, and living forces, the Bonsai can quickly spread joy and contentment to all who see it.
Cultivation and Care of the Bonsai Tree
Bonsai cultivation begins with a specimen of the source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree species suitable for Bonsai development. Species such as needles and small leaves are popular as Bonsai material because they possess qualities that make them suitable for the compact visual scope of Bonsai. The source specimen is shaped to be small and to meet the aesthetic standards of Bonsai. When the specimen Bonsai nears its planned final size, it is planted in a display pot designed for the Bonsai display. From that point on, the growth of the Bonsai is regulated by its pot environment.
Contrary to popular belief, the Bonsai Plant is easy to cultivate and care for. They require a series of techniques that stunt the plant’s growth while allowing them to live as long as their large counterparts. Below is a step-by-step guide on factors you should consider while you’re on your Bonsai Tree Care Journey.
1. Selecting the Appropriate Species
There are a variety of Bonsai species to choose from, and of course, some are easier to cultivate than others. Before you begin planting the Bonsai Tree, ensure that your climate and the climate your plant requires to thrive are a good match. For instance, some plants require the temperature to go below freezing to enter a dormant state, while others would die if the temperature dips too low. Some require more humidity than others, and some need special Bonsai soil conditions. Also, some species are more vulnerable to disease and insects than others. Such plants would be better off indoors than outdoors.
2. Positioning the Bonsai
You must know the needs of your Bonsai plant to the bone if you want to select a suitable position for your plant. Does your plant thrive better indoors or outdoors? Does it benefit from much exposure to sunlight or otherwise? Is your desired Bonsai species vulnerable to extreme weather or insects? These are all things you should inquire about and factor in while choosing a befitting spot for your Bonsai plant. Common species of Bonsai such as Juniper, Pine, and Spruce are outdoor plants and should be exposed to seasons like their larger counterparts. Indoor Bonsai are majorly subtropical species that thrive on stable temperatures throughout the year. Examples of indoor Bonsai plants are Jade Trees and Hawaiian Umbrella Trees.
A general rule of thumb when contemplating a good position for your Bonsai plant is to keep the plant away from any direct heat source or draft.
3. Watering the Bonsai
When it comes to watering, the general rule of thumb is to water as soon as the soil looks dry. In addition, you should endeavor to water your Bonsai plants individually, as opposed to following a fixed routine for watering all of them at once. This is because Bonsai Trees watering frequency differs with type and size, with some requiring watering at least once each day. Bonsai soils quickly dry out due to their shallow soil layer. This means you must be on top of your soil watering game if you don’t want your plants dying from underwatering.
Overwatering can also be detrimental to the Bonsai Tree’s growth. If a Bonsai is overwatered, its roots would drown in water and be deprived of oxygen, preventing further growth for the tree.
When watering your Bonsai, the main goal is to thoroughly saturate the root system with water until the water drains through a tray into a saucer. Do not forget to drain out the trays as tis may lead to overwatering for the plant.
4. Pruning and Shaping the Bonsai
Pruning must be done to give Bonsai their artistic grace and maintain their beauty. There are essentially two types of pruning, “maintenance pruning” and “structural pruning.”
Maintenance Pruning is beneficial to the tree because it encourages new growth. Once new shoots have grown to about 2-3cm, carefully cut back to the first pair of new leaves using a sharp pair of Bonsai scissors. It exposes the leaves underneath to sunlight and air, strengthening and improving the tree’s overall health.
Areas that require pruning include the buds, branches, and leaves. Pruning away branches encourages the growth of smaller branches, allowing you to control the shape of your tree. Flowering Bonsai should be pruned during the spring to encourage more flowers to grow during the following year.
Structural pruning is a more serious technique that should only be done when the tree is dormant. It involves the removal of the tree’s primary structural branches as carefully as possible so that the tree may recover. You may require the assistance of a professional for this process.
5. Choosing the Right Soil for Your Bonsai
Your Bonsai soil must have the capacity to balance being able to hold water for extended periods and dispel water when necessary to avoid overwatering. Add large particles to your soil, such as volcanic rocks and stones, to improve the drainage and introduce air into the soil. You may add some clay to your soil to improve its water retention capacities.
Feeding your soil with fertilizers is also an excellent idea. An ideal Bonsai fertilizer should contain equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Never use fertilizers on dry soil. Constantly water the plant first so that the soil can better absorb and break down the nutrients in the fertilizer.
6. Repotting Your Bonsai
Repotting is necessary to remove excess roots, which can cause the tree to starve or not receive enough nutrients for its mass. Repotting is also done to ensure that your tree can continue to survive in a small pot. Bonsai trees should be repotted every two to five years, depending on how rapidly your trees grow. Below are essential steps to repotting your Bonsai:
- Determine when your Bonsai needs to be repotted.
- Pick the right time of the year for repotting your plants.
- Remove the old soil from the tree’s roots.
- Remove some of the Bonsai tree’s roots.
- Reposition the tree back in its pot.
- Water the Bonsai tree.
At this point, it is crystal clear that tending to a Bonsai plant is not a one-off duty. Your Bonsai Care Journey becomes a way of life and the Bonsai Tree itself, a living art form. With the easy-to-follow steps provided above, everyone should want to own a Bonsai tree. It might seem intimidating initially, but don’t let that deter you from cultivating this unique plant that combines style and grace.
If you still have some reservations after reading through this post, kindly check our FAQ section below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The lifespan of a Bonsai Tree varies according to the species and how well they are cared for. Some Bonsai trees live for 100 years. The oldest Bonsai tree is over 1000 years old.
Ficus is probably the easiest to grow for beginners. It is tolerant of low humidity indoors. Other easy-to-grow Bonsai are Crassula, Carmona, Jasmine, and Olive.
It can take anywhere from 4-6 months to create a pleasing appearance for your Bonsai. You’ll have to be patient here.
Almost any shrub can be turned into Bonsai. The key is to prune the roots and foliage, so the plant remains dwarfed.