The art of training the bonsai tree has been enjoyed for ages, and can make for quite the enjoyable and rewarding hobby. In fact, early forms of this practice actually began over a thousand years ago, when the Chinese started growing potted trees of a single specimen, this practice was known as "pun-sai." The Chinese admired the gnarled and twisted trunks and branches for their fantastic appearances, sometimes resembling dragons and animals, while the Japanese approach was more for the appreciation of the simplicity and harmony in the natural beauty of the tree itself, and how that fit in with Zen Buddhism. The Japanese adopted the art form around the year 1195, and while Buddhist monks mainly practiced it at first, it soon became an activity that people all over Japan would enjoy. From its early stages as tree planting, over the years it has developed into the act of training a tree through meticulous pruning and care.
Today, bonsai is the act of training a miniature tree to look similar to its larger counterparts. Bonsai trees are actually not miniature trees by nature, but stay that way through constant trimming and binding.
Choosing Your Bonsai
Bonsai trees are typically sold in one of two ways: as carefully trained plants or as starter plants. Carefully trained ones are often found in good garden/landscape centers and have had lots of work and already have many branch formations. Because of this, they can be quite expensive. The other option you have is buying starter bonsai trees â€“ those plants that are commonly seen around shopping malls, for this reason these tree are also referred to as "mallsai." You can train a starter plant, but it will take a lot more work and time to get it to be as lovely as professionally trained bonsai are.
Watering Your Tree
Since bonsai trees are typically grown in pots, like many potted plants, they need to be watered often. This is for the simple fact that water can quickly drain from pots leaving the plants dry. In summer, you’ll want to water just about every day, making sure that your bonsai is moist to the touch at all times â€“ but do not over-water or else the roots will rot. This may be the beginner bonsai enthusiast’s greatest problem â€“ watering the tree too much. In winter, it is advisable to water your bonsai about once every three days.
Fertilizing Bonsai Trees
Feeding your bonsai with the right fertilizer at the right time of year is imperative for keeping it in good health. The best types of fertilizers for bonsai are the pellets that slowly release nutrients into the soil, with these, you can make sure that it’s not all washed away when you water your tree. Soluble powder and liquid fertilizers will work, too, though. The best time to fertilize your bonsai is from early spring to late summer. Look for a fertilizer that has a low nitrogen content to feed to your tree year-round. And in autumn, look for a fertilizer with very little to no nitrogen.