The art of growing small trees that resemble full-sized mature ones is called bonsai. Its purpose is simply for the pleasure of growing them and to be able to enjoy their beauty. Following the second world war, there was a great deal of information available regarding this art form in the West and to this day exhibitions continue to be held. Also, literature about bonsai trees that was once not available was translated to English and became more obtainable.
Chinese penjing which means tray scenery is where the bonsai originally comes from. Penzai is the word used by the Japanese meaning bonsai coming from penjing. Three categories make up penjing including trees, landscape and water and land.
Tropical and subtropical types are sometimes grown inside; however they are generally grown outside. It is not the same as a general plant around the house and will need more care and watering. It will have benefits as compared to the outside bonsai because it can maintain leaves year round. It can never have the moss covering that an outdoor bonsai grower highly seeks.
Seeds are very seldom used to grow these trees and those that are partially grown are preferred. A partially developed plant is known as mature stock and it gives the desired aged appearance necessary. One very important aspect is to choose the type of tree that will grow well in the particular surroundings it is to be placed in.
Mature stock is collected in a couple of different ways. Cuttings are one way; they are placed in a medium for growing until roots develop. Another technique often used is layering which allows the roots to grow next to the live branch before it is removed.
A good option especially for the beginner may be nursery stock which can provide good starting time of a couple seasons. There are things to consider with nursery stock; the shape may be predefined and difficult to alter which will limit the trunk direction. An advantage is that the tree can be worked with right away.
For tending trees it is a good idea to purchase the special tools available. Plan to spend a great deal of time watering as these trees need to be kept moist a lot of the time. It is also important not to over water them as they may develop what is known as root rot. They will need to be repotted frequently to promote new root growth and to prevent them from becoming bound to a particular pot until completely mature.
Many different techniques are used when developing a bonsai which include pruning, trimming, clamping, wiring, defoliation, deadwood and grafting. Any of these techniques is acceptable, but particular aesthetic characteristics need to be considered to comply with tradition. There are some principles that are key including miniaturization, asymmetry, proportion among elements, expression of wabi or sabi and no trace of artist. With developing technique and patience it can be possible for anyone to experience the tranquility of caring for bonsai trees at home.
If you’re curious about a bonsai, then visit Oscar Mandria’s site and learn about the ficus bonsai.