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Everything you need to know about bonsais

Miriam Damache Miriam Damache
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There has always been a mystical charm and appeal to the bonsai tree. It has always brought to mind the idea of immense patience and special care. Some trees can be more than a century old which would mean that its care was handed down from one generation to the next. Bonsai trees teach us that for a fruitful growth and for a beautiful outcome to be possible, a bonsai must be cared for with the unhurried patience of a monk and the attention of a surgeon to his work in progress. The end result can live for and extended period of time and offer such a beautiful sight of incredibly mesmerising living art. With the growing interest people have had for bonsai trees, many types have come to the market. Nowadays, it is not so necessary to spend as much as an arm and a leg to get one for the home. The following ideas and themes related to bonsai trees can help anyone wanting to invest time and care into these magnificent potted miniature trees.

The history of the bonsai tree

It is a common misconception that the Japanese invented the art of the bonsai cultivation because it was actually inspired by the Chinese who had been recreating miniature landscapes containing trees for centuries before, which is know as penjing. Ever since the Japanese were inspired by the Chinese miniature landscaping art, the centuries that would follow would prove the enamoured spirit brought on by bonsai tree cultivation. 

After the end of World War II, a growing amount of trends brought in the Japanese tradition of bonsai was made accessible to western audiences at first and closely followed later on by the rest of world audiences. The great increase of the bonsai tree cultivation was mostly due to world exhibitions held around the globe that would display the various methods of bonsai cultivation. Since then, many different world exhibitions have portrayed Japan by show of bonsai trees. Nowadays, bonsai trees can be found anywhere, of any species and at a varied price depending on the age and the type. 

Types of bonsai

In the Japanese traditional art of bonsai growing and care, there are common types of bonsais that are found on a more wide scale. The most common styles consist of the following: formal upright, informal upright, slanting and forest/group. The first type, named formal upright is defined as such: it is a tree that has an upright, straight trunk and its branches will extend in conic shape where the thickest and leafiest branches are at the bottom, followed by the shortest at the top. The second kind of bonsai is informal upright which consists of a tree that is upright but it contains visible curves in the trunk and the branches. Another type is the slanting one that is described as straight trunk tree similar to the formal upright style, however, the slanting style trunk rises from the soil at an angle, and the main root of the bonsai will be located to the left or right of branches such as the bonsai tree shown in the current image. Finally, the forest style bonsai also known as group style is made of many miniature trees of the same species, normally in an odd number, in a bonsai pot, thus recreating a forest or group of trees.

How to care for a bonsai

When deciding to grow a small tree in a container, it will be classified as a bonsai, its care will demand special attention. Unlike regular tree species that grow outdoors and will have roots that can go several meters deep, not to mention how immensely tall they get, therefor needing hundreds of litres of soil. Contrarily to that, a regular bonsai container is a lot smaller and they very rarely grow higher than one meter. This explains why a special attention must be put forward when caring for a bonsai. What matters is to know the species since each and every type of bonsai tree requires different watering method: some thrive in a dry soil whereas others prefer a moist soil. Repotting is necessary although it should be done depending on the age of the miniature tree. There are also special tools an equipments made available for pruning the bonsai. Each bonsai species require a specific type of fertiliser as well as ambient temperature. They should not be placed in an area that is breezy or gets frequent outside winds that come inside like the entrance for example. However, depending on the climate where one lives, bonsai trees can be kept outdoors.

Overall look

Bonsai trees can take many shapes, angles and directions. The appeal that these miniature trees have is that in some way they contain the entire spirit of the home into one growing plant. Having a bonsai is as though that one miniature tree is recreating an entire home environment through its living and growing state. The reason for this is that they require attention and care which can be noticed by how well it grows and thrives in the home. There comes a great sense of pride from being able to claim to the successful grown of a bonsai and it also demonstrate how the carer pays attention to detail as well as being able to notice every change in their miniature tree. This type of tree will grow and evolve along the life of the carer himself which will then continue the unique bond between man and tree. In a way a bonsai can become a companion and a friend as well as offering a stunning decorative overall look for the home.

Bonsai pricing and potting

After paying a visit to a local plant and gardening store, it is easily noticeable that bonsai trees are available in a multitude of species, shapes and prices. When it comes to price indicators, the more a bonsai is old, the more it means that many years of care and pruning have been put in. This explains the higher price of aged bonsais compared to regular plants or potted trees. However, young bonsai are widely available anywhere which can suit those who wish to embark on the endearing path of bonsai art on a tight budget. 

On another note, it is not necessary to buy or repot a bonsai tree into a more traditional rectangular pot as shown in of the other images of this ideabook. The image here is of two different pots that can be used for bonsai trees; one is of a small metallic copper shade pot and the other is a hollowed out tree trunk piece. These ideas can set the stage for almost every kind of pot to be used for a bonsai tree. A very adaptable species of bonsai is the eucalyptus breed as shown in the image, since they are robust trees that will be easy to care for and will adjust to a large variety of pot shapes. This is a design by Pflanzenfreude

Bonsai at home

The impressive ,yet elusive art of bonsai tree cultivation is always a showstopper when it is present in a home. Since regular trees can become huge with roots that dig deep within the ground, the fact of having a miniaturised version of a tree only enforces the link that mankind has always had with Nature, trees in particular. There is a natural bond that will forever exist between humans and trees which are present in thousands of varieties and in every type of climate in the outside world. This can explain why having a lovely tree presence in a home that has been miniaturised will leave a lasting impression. Not only is it stunning to look at, but a bonsai tree can greatly enhance the overall atmosphere of a home by bringing in a touch of green as well as being a delightful reminder of the friendship humans have with trees. A bonsai in a home sets the stage for a beautiful presence of greenery as well as displaying the wonders of Nature.

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