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Bonsai Garden

How to Care for Bonsai Trees

by Francesca Black

The term bonsai literally means 'a plant in a tray', however, the generally accepted meaning is a tree in a pot. To "bonsai" a plant is to keep the plant from growing in its natural form, therefore controlling its growth to suit the owner. First you need to examine the plant to see whether it has bonsai potential. A Japanese Juniper is traditional tree commonly used for bonsai, and makes a great plant for the beginner. Chinese elms are also a good starting plant for anyone interested in bonsai. If there are any large roots that might prevent the plant from fitting on the bonsai tray, use clippers to remove them. By clipping the roots back and wiring the limbs, and keeping it in containers helps to keep the Bonsai small.

A well-grown bonsai plant will "miniaturize" in all its parts and eventually have the appearance of a mature tree. The goal of bonsai is to create a plant, small in size, that would suggest a larger natural scene. In other words without a size reference you would have no idea that the tree is a miniature.

In order to enhance the poise of the height & width of the 'bonsai', the pot must be in scale with the tree. The trunk is what gives the tree its "stature", poor trunks make poor bonsai. The basics of how to grow your own Bonsai are relatively simple. A tree becomes a bonsai by applying a variety of horticultural techniques to "miniaturize" the plant.

Watering Bonsai Gardens
You have to be careful with both over-watering and under-watering. It is suggested that bonsai's be watered every two days in the Winter and every day or twice a day in the Summer. In general the soil should be moist, not soaking wet, and never bone dry.

Soil for Bonsai Trees
Using good soil is essential. Healthy soil will help plants recover from the trauma of pruning.

Fertilize Bonsai Trees
A bonsai needs to be more fertilized than a normal sized tree. Don't feed a bonsai if the tree is in a sicken condition. It is suggested that a bonsai not be fertilize for 3-4 weeks after it is repotted. Wiring In young, vigorous bonsai, shaping the branches with copper or aluminum wire is an extremely important part of the training process. Wire's should not be too tight or remain on the tree too long or scarring will occur.

Bonsai Care
Because of their relative lack of protection from the elements, bonsai care can be quite difficult. In the spring, start new bonsai's, prune the old ones, and continue training measures.

Pruning Bonsai Trees
Decide on the final shape and size of your bonsai before beginning the pruning process. The main factor to maintaining bonsai is the removal of all but the most important parts of the plant. Always inspect your bonsai tools after each use to be sure they are clean and in good working order. If the blade on your bonsai shears has sap on it, use a little soapy water to remove it.

Trim your bonsai gently, removing sick or dying limbs. There are no universal rules about how much to prune a bonsai; the techniques vary according to the species. Researching how a traditional full grown tree responds to pruning will provide insight into how a specific bonsai species should be pruned.

The ideal temperature for a bonsai should be no higher than 70 degrees, additionally you should avoid placing bonsai on or near hot-air ducts and radiators.

Do not be in to much of a hurry. Be patient and don't wish the years away. Many bonsai plants take many years to train and grow to achieve the effect intended by the practitioner.

Outdoor Bonsai Trees and Gardens
Contrary to popular conception, most bonsai trees are not indoor plants, and if kept indoors will most likely die. Trees are generally outdoor plants, putting them into pots does not transform them into indoor plants.

Good bonsai's can be kept outdoors all year long. In general, bonsai trees must be kept outdoors and are brought indoors only for display.

Growing bonsai takes dedication and patience but the result is well worth the investment. A Bonsai will live can live for hundreds of years and can have incredible beauty and value.

About the Author
Francesca Black works in marketing at Bonsai Garden and Pilates Shop leading portals for bonsai gardening and natural exercise.