The term bonsai brings up a mental picture of miniature Japanese trees that are cut and pruned to certain specifications. However, the term bonsai literally translated, means plant in a tray. These trees are much smaller than what one might normally expect they do not really have to be just a few inches tall. They can be grown in pots in the garden.
A lot of people believe that the training and maintenance of a Bonsai tree is a very cruel practice. This is because these people assume that the cultivators of Bonsai trees starve the trees and cut them so much that they become very unhealthy. The truth is completely opposite to this misconception. It is true that Bonsai trees are cut and pruned regularly and more extensively than other plants in order to keep them small the cultivators transfer the Bonsai trees regularly from one pot to another. Bonsai trees are also fed and watered with much greater frequency as compared to when they are growing in the wild.
While Japan is usually believed to be the originator of Bonsai trees, this information in wrong. There are records containing evidence that Bonsai trees were grown in China as long as two thousand years ago. Of course, the Bonsai in those days are not exactly the same Bonsai that we see today. They were slightly larger and were grown outdoors. The Japanese influenced this by taking this art form and simply helping it progress until it reached where it is today. This is the reason why Bonsai styles are very different between China and Japan. Chinese Bonsai do not follow too severe restrictions, the style is a lot more free, and the pruning of the tree is not so heavy. Japanese Bonsai on the other hand are heavily pruned and actually look like they were miniature versions of their wilder counterparts.
Home cultured Bonsai trees have the same life span as the ones that grow in the wild. It is not uncommon for them to live for centuries and to be passed on from one generation to the next. In fact, home grown Bonsai usually display better health because of the care and attention they receive.
Due to shortage of living space in cities it is not possible for everyone to dedicate enough space for a garden where they can grown a large number of plants and trees are totally out of the question for apartment dwellers. Even people having gardens big enough to grow trees probably do wish to wait for years until the tree is fully grown. Bonsai trees offer good alternatives to anyone like this. They need very little room and are good for people who do not have too much room to spare. If it is possible to recreate the conditions for their growth Bonsai trees can even be cultivated indoors.
Bonsai trees have become a popular hobby but it’s a hobby that demands a lot of time, attention, and some amount of foresight as to how the trees will eventually turn out.