The description of Bonsai Tree
Bonsai means “tray planted” in Japanese. It is the art of miniaturizing plants in containers strictly for aesthetics and it has been practiced for centuries. The true bonsai hobbyist will create a landscaped environment in the container, which adds to the plant’s charm.
Flowering bonsai plants require regular watering, feeding, training and pruning like other ornamental and flowering plants. They’re grown in small containers and are trained with wire coils to induce their desired shape and structure.
Within that framework, 3 major components are crucial:
Positioning Within the Container
The container could be anything whimsical or attractive. However, most bonsai hobbyists select a container with an Asian or Eastern flair. Often, something with a pagoda, colored pebbles, a tiny park bench and other elements that make up a mini landscape is used. The creation of a miniature garden also enhances a bonsai’s allure.
Within the world of bonsai, there are four distinctive sizes: miniature, small, medium and average. The miniatures, usually included in landscaped displays, may reach two inches high at maturity, about five years old. Small plants range from two inches to six inches high and take from five to ten years to mature. The medium sized bonsai will grow to between six and twelve inches in about three years. An average size bonsai can grow as tall as two feet high in about three years.
Bonsai flowering plants consist of two basic varieties:
Koten – Like most trees, Koten are wider at the base, tapering off at the top.
Bunjin – This is referred to as a Comic or Informal variety. It’s wider at the top than at the base.
How To Care For Your Flowering Bonsai
Bonsais require the same concern for the standard elements of plant care, watering, sunlight, soil and pruning. However, because of their size and the intent to keep bonsais stunted, the specifics of those elements are a bit different than regular plants.
Of all the elements of bonsai care, watering is the most crucial. While each species has different specific requirements, the one common rule is never let your bonsai get completely dry. Generally, the rule is to water when the top soil looks dry. Japanese bonsai experts use a chopstick as a dipstick to test the depth of moisture in the soil.
Another means of testing is to test the moisture with your finger. If the soil feels dry at all, it needs watering. Once you get more familiar with your bonsai’s weight in the pot, you’ll be able to tell if it needs water simply by hefting it. The weight will be the barometer.
For those that like to use technology, there is the moisture meter. It has a prong that you insert into the soil. The meter will indicate the moisture level and you can water accordingly.
Unlike regular houseplants, an automated watering cycle is not recommended for bonsais; each species and variety has individual requirements. Generally, evergreens require only a weekly watering during winter months and daily watering during the summer. Because they are growing in much less soil than a normal plant, watering a bonsai should be complete so that the soil is moistened throughout.
Sunlight is also very important to the health and growth of your bonsai; bonsais should be placed in a location that gets direct unfiltered sunlight. There should be no curtains or shades between the bonsai and the sunlight. Usually, a good southern exposure window with a long day of sunlight is the best location. However, when trimming, pruning or re-potting, it is best to keep it out of direct sunlight until the plant has revitalized itself by acclimating. Again, each individual plant has unique requirements; do the research for your individual bonsai.