An Introduction to the Bonsai Tree

There are many myths which are associated with bonsai. This not only confuses budding enthusiasts, but also gives the pastime a bad name. A bonsai is not a genetically dwarfed plant and is not kept small by cruelty in any way. The techniques of Bonsai are no crueler than that of any other horticultural endeavor. In fact, given an adequate supply of water, air, light and nutrients, a properly maintained bonsai should outlive a full size tree of the same species. It is a common belief that bonsai are only a few centimeters tall. This is not entirely true, although bonsai are small in comparison to their huge life-sized brothers; most are over 20 centimeters tall and up to 1 to 1.2 meter in height.

How to develop a Bonsai There are different ways to develop a Bonsai. Bonsai can be developed from seeds or cuttings, from young trees or from naturally occurring stunted trees transplanted into containers. Most bonsai range in height from 5 centimeters to 1 meter. Bonsai are kept small and trained by pruning branches and roots, by periodic repotting, by pinching off new growth, and by wiring the branches and trunk so that they grow into the desired shape.

Bonsai are ordinary trees or plants, not special hybrid dwarfs. Small leafed varieties are most suitable, but essentially any plant can be used, regardless of the size it grows to in the wild. The bonsai may suggest many things, but in all cases must look natural and never show the intervention of human hands, with the exception of Chinese bonsai which in many cases depicts images of dragons and other influential symbols of the culture at the time of origination. Grown in special containers, bonsai are primarily kept outdoors (with the exception of some plants suited, trained and grown indoors), although they are often displayed on special occasions indoors.

The bonsai with its container and soil is physically independent of the earth since its roots are not planted in it, is a separate entity, complete in itself, yet part of nature. A bonsai tree should always be positioned off-center in its container, for not only is asymmetry vital to the visual effect, but the center point is symbolically where heaven and earth meet, and nothing should occupy this place.

Prized possession Given proper care, bonsai can live for hundreds of years, with prized specimens being passed from generation to generation, admired for their age, and revered as a reminder of those who have cared for them over the centuries. Although these bonsai are extremely beautiful – meticulously cared for over the years and containing such a wealth of knowledge, age is not essential. It is more important that the tree produce the artistic effect desired, that it be in proper proportion to the appropriate container, and that it be in good health.

Overall, bonsai are something that are quite personalized and there are no strict rules to abide by if you undertake it merely as a hobby which to gain enjoyment out of. It does not have to be an expensive commitment, but it is a commitment that requires a great amount of time, patience, skill and endurance. Although things may not go to plan, don’t give up.

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