Bonsai are dwarf plotted plants cultivated by the Japanese and Chinese for centuries. Growth of a bonsai is a time-consuming process requiring much patience, care and nurturing. It is also said to take considerable artistic skill, an art that has become rather popular in the United States since World War II. A successful bonsai could be described as the union of a plant and its container to create a beautiful picture of nature in a miniature form.
Though a true bonsai is a tree of shrub gown outdoors, of course in a pot, other woody tropical plants may be developed as bonsai. The dwarf pomegranate is a good example. To develop a bonsai in this manner, only fairly small-leaved species plants should be used. If not, the foliage will be out of proportion with the rest of the plant. The zeikova and ginkgo are two pines and maples that can be developed into fantastic bonsai. Some of the most interesting bonsai are those developed out of plants with substantial, tapering trunks and twisted branches. Such plants can be found in a nursery or out in the wild.
In addition to the plant, the pot is an important part of the bonsai art. Bonsai pots come in many different designs and range in size from two to twenty-five inches in diameter and one to ten inches deep. Some pots are glazed while some are made of red clay. Regardless of the material the pot is made of, all Bonsai pots should have drainage holes.
The soil used for bonsai plants vary, but the soil mixture used should always be capable of holding moisture and food. However, it should also be able to provide good drainage and aeration. The soil is usually arranged in layers, with the coarse soil mixture at the bottom and the finer soil toward the top. The soil is then topped with a moss, fine pebbles or a small ground-cover plant such as Helxine.
The spring is the best time to begin developing a bonsai plant. The plant will need repotted as it begins to grow and becomes more established, with the average of once per year. Keep in mind, though, that some need repotted twice per year while others only need repotted every few years.
There are no simple instructions for developing and training a bonsai plant. Generally, it just requires hard, selective pruning and the thinning out of new growths. You can wrap a stiff copper or steel wire around the trunk and branches to help control the direction of growth to provide some interesting warped lines.
In the past, the art of bonsai was one of mystery and it was believed that it took years of patience before the plant would mature into a beautiful tree. This is not true, though. A good bonsai can be developed in a few hours with a few simple procedures, some time and care. Do not be discouraged!