Bonsai Gardening – The Basics

Have you ever heard of Bonsai gardening? If not, then realize that it is an ancient art form that hails directly from Japan. When you think of Bonsai gardening, you may picture an old looking tree. Bonsai gardening, in the Japanese language, means “tray garden.” This type of gardening is done by growing a plant in a small pot or tray, while taking care to frequently prune its branches and roots. By doing this, the plant grows in the shape in which you desire it to grow. If you plan to have a Bonsai plant, be prepared to spend a great deal of time taking care of it.


Bonsai plants are not naturally small. They are trained to achieve this appearance. It is after bonsai training, they appear to be dwarfs. They will range in height from 2 inches to 3.33 feet. There are basically two different types to buy. There are the type, which have been trained already by a genuine bonsai artist, or the untrained starter plant, which possess little or no training. It is important to find out the type of species you have purchased so you can research the care they require regarding watering, pruning and repotting.


The bonsai plant is not an indoor plant. Although it can be brought indoor on occasion, most of its life will be spent outdoors, if it is to survive. It should not be placed in direct sunlight. You should use a potting soil mix or you can buy a pre-made bonsai soil mix. The bonsai plant needs to be watered frequently, since its container is small, and therefore, only has a small water reservoir. It will need more water in dry, hot weather and less in cool, rainy weather. It also requires fertilizer to restock whatever gets washed away during frequent watering. Feedings usually take place in early spring to late summer.


Regular repotting is also necessary with bonsai plants. This will promote its growth and maintain its health. Repotting is best done when the plant is most dormant, usually in early spring or late autumn. Younger plants will require this every two to three years and older ones less often.


Pruning is what will give the bonsai plant its desired look. This should be performed during its growing season. This is done with the fingers, by pinching new growth to develop more bushiness, with scissors by trimming new shoots or with leaf pruning by removing bad looking leaves.


Aluminum wires are used to guide the tree’s branches and trunk in different directions. It is loosely wrapped around the desired part so as to not damage the bark, and then gently bent into shape. Once the tree is trained to grow this way, the wire is removed.


When looking at a bonsai plant, you will see that it is truly a work of art. It has been shaped through years and years of care to accomplish a desired look. Through this time the grower has expended a great deal of patience and care during their plant’s life. The resulting beauty is a true testament of an artist and one that should be admired.

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