If you have ever wondered how bonsai trees are made, you are in good company. These tiny works of living art have delighted and mystified people for centuries. Perfectly pruned, these miniature trees provide hours of enjoyment as well as giving an air of relaxation to the room in which they reside.
So what is a bonsai tree? The word “bonsai” actually refers to the method in which the tree is planted and not the type of tree itself. In fact, there are many different species of tree that work well in bonsai plantings. These plants are usually types of dwarf trees, although some heartier shrubs can be used as well.
The art of bonsai was developed in ancient Japan and is believed to be a derivation of a similar practice in China known as penjing. There are depictions of bonsai trees appearing in ancient Japanese scrolls dating back to the year 1195.
Unlike many other forms of cultivated plants, bonsai trees are not typically grown from seed. In fact, that is the least common method of cultivation. Propagation, or the growth of a new plant from the cuttings of a different plant, is among the most common. Other methods include collecting a wild specimen, then transferring it into a suitable container, or purchasing a small plant from a commercial grower of bonsai trees.
Turning a simple dwarf tree or plant into a bonsai involves a great deal of work and an artistic touch. The trunk of the tree is pruned back until it is the desired height and trained by attaching it to support structures with clamps or string. The foliage is carefully pruned and leaves trimmed until it has achieved an aesthetically pleasing shape. The final shape of a bonsai tree is often determined by the natural placement of the branches and shape of the trunk, however, it is up to the artist themselves on how the tree is best trimmed. Many artists spend decades perfecting this beautiful craft.
Caring for a bonsai is usually fairly straightforward. It must be watered regularly, although how often will usually depend on the specific species of plant being cultivated. While small, bonsai do grow and may require repotting into a larger container every few years. Fertilization is also important, although care must be taken that you do not overfertilize the plant. Again, this will depend on the specific type of tree being grown. This information is usually included when a bonsai tree is purchased. If cultivating a wild specimen, care must be taken to accurately identify the plant so that proper lighting conditions, soil composition, fertilization, and water requirements are adequately met.
Bonsai trees are often displayed in a prominent location, as they are a true work of art. It is also common to have more than one specimen, displaying them together so that the admirer can enjoy the individual differences between the specimens. It is recommended to treat them as the work of art that they are, giving them the spotlight in their location and avoiding extra clutter and other small items that may distract from your living art.
How bonsai trees are made is a fascinating process. From their start as simple small trees until they are transformed into delicate living statues, these plants have been delighting lovers of both art and gardening for centuries. Whether you enjoy the actual pruning and shaping process of creating a bonsai or simply want to purchase a finished specimen to enjoy in your home, the vast array of available shapes and sizes means you will always have a great selection to choose from.