Some things you didn’t know about Bonsai

. . . Anyone with interest, time and a little space, can become a bonsai enthusiast and collector. Bonsai generally requires a bit more care and attention than houseplants. However, with the proper care and nurturing they can last for many years. Some bonsai are passed on from one generation to the next, admired for their age and beauty and serve as a reminder of the people who have cared for them previously.Translated literally from Japanese, bonsai means “tray or pot” (bon) and “plant or tree” (sai). But this ancient art form, whose origins and early development are traced back to both China and Japan, is much more than that. Bonsai (pronounced “bone-sigh”) is the name that is given to a beautiful tree grown in a complementary container. Unlike other art forms, the uniqueness and challenge of bonsai results from the fact that the medium used to create these “three dimensional sculptures” is both alive and growing. This means that the work of the bonsai artist is constantly evolving to maintain the tree’s health and aesthetic quality. . .

Bonsai literally translates to tree in a pot.

There are 4000 year old paintings in Egypt showing bonsai. 2000 years ago bonsai shows up in Chinese paintings, 1400 years ago it shows up in Japanese art. 100 years ago bonsai makes a small appearance in London, then after WWII it shows up in the US.

In China bonsai often depict entire scenes, where as in Japanese bonsai it is typically one plant.

Shallow pots are typically used both for appearance, so you can see some of the roots and because it is easier to maintain soil moisture evenly.

If you have an indoor bonsai it is not unusual for it to lose its leaves during the dry winter months.

There are many, many styles of bonsai including: Chokkan ( straight trunk tree); Fukinagashi ( wind swept); Netsurianai ( roots grow together); Ishkizuki ( with rocks ); Kengai ( cascade); Yoseue ( group planting ); Bunkingi ( stressed ).

Some good choices to try to use for bonsai include: figs, crapes, junipers, azaleas.

Pines are more difficult, but if you want a pine find a short needled pine.

Also consider trying to start with a cutting from a local tree or dig up a sapling.

Bonsais must be pruned and shaped frequently. Find some short edged tools to make it easier to get in tight spaces with out damaging other branches.

Soil should be well drained and course. Your bonsai soil should get dry enough to need watering daily.

Spidermites can be a problem, Merit is the recommended systemic insecticide.