This is a simple and practical guide for anyone who want to make a start in art of growing bonsai. Complete guide to growing bonsai trees for beginners. Here we will learn how bonsai are grown and information given is related to what is available in our nurseries and garden centers at the present time in the way of containers, soils, manures and so on.
There is a growing interest in these fascinating trees and they can be displayed in a number of places — living rooms, conservatories, terraces, verandas, and even kitchen windowsills. In fact, the window sill is an admirable place for those that are being trained or those that are not being displayed. There is nothing to prevent flat dwellers from taking up the ‘art’, just as they have been growing ‘house plants’ in profusion for the past few years. Bonsai are even better suited to cultivation in average rooms than a great many variety of plants that people struggle to grow. The expert Japanese bonsai grower Kyozo Morata once said, ‘Like a pet animal, it needs water, sunshine and nourishment.’
Bonsai have been grown in Japan for hundreds of years and their culture is a treasured art which has been passed from generation to generation. There are, in Japan, a number of bonsai specimens which are known to be more than a hundred years old and these are, of course, of very considerable value. One plant is believed to be a thousand years old. This does not mean, however, that one has to wait all that time for them to grow.
The thousand year old specimen was probably looking a shapely and venerable tree at the time of the Northern Conquest when it was a hundred years old, and the centenarian trees were small and decorative by their third year. The species used are not special dwarf ones, but quite ordinary trees an shrubs only some of which come from Japan; they are plants which would attain considerable heights when grown unchecked, and ones which anyone can grow from seeds or cuttings and dwarf by methods described here.
As a rough guide, the age to which a bonsai may grow should correspond to that of a tree growing naturally; in fact, it will often exceed it because the bonsai is given such care and attention, never having to contend with the extremes of nature. As a rule, conifers live longer than deciduous trees and deciduous forest trees outlive ornamental flowering trees and shrubs.
In the bonsai circles of Japan a thirty year old bonsai is looked on as mature, but full beauty cannot be expected in less than fifty years. However, this should not discourage beginners who will take heart as soon as they have their first specimen, even if it is only a year or so old or a newly potted seedling.
Before setting out to grow bonsai, we must define the meaning the word ‘bonsai’. It is made up of two Japanese words — ‘bon’ meaning a shallow pan, and ‘sai’ meaning a plant. By being planted in shallow containers trees can be greatly dwarfed, but not necessarily starved. The object of all care and effort in bonsai culture is to dwarf the stem, shoots and leaves of each specimen in order to achieve, finally, a well proportioned miniature. They have sometimes been referred to as ‘those poor little underfed trees in tiny pots’. This idea is quite unfounded as will be seen dwarfing. Bonsai in fact, pot grown miniature replicas of their natural counterparts in wild; they might be beautifully shaped, upright specimens or gnarled, twisted curiosities, and may be grown singly or in groups. In height they vary from two inches to as much as three feet.