Make Miniature Trees with the Bonsai Look

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Make Miniature Trees with the Bonsai Look

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A bonsai is a miniature shrub or tree that has the appearance of an aged, graceful specimen. Grown in shallow containers, these are carefully and artistically pruned and wired until they acquire sweeping curves that only old trees have. Serious bonsai hobbyists have trees that are 10 years old or even older.

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Bonsai is not about owning bonsai plants. It is about the enjoyment of caring for them and most of all creating them. Bonsai is neither grown to produce food nor medicine. It is not about creating a large garden full of bonsai. If this is going to be your first bonsai, make a real one. Don't buy.

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Before you create your own bonsai, here are some interesting bonsai facts to know. It is helpful to know also the different styles and designs you want for your bonsai to get started.

Bonsai Facts

  1. 1
    Bonsai cultivation is old.
    This Japanese antiquated art of growing miniature trees using containers is almost 2000 years old.
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  2. 2
    It is Chinese.
    Believe it or not, it originally dates back to some of the ancient Chinese dynasties (600 AD). Notice early drawings from the mountainous regions of China. It is the Japanese, however, that popularized the current interpretation of the bonsai as it is known these days.
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  3. 3
    "Bon" and "Sai." The words mean "tray" and "plant" and pronounced "bone-sigh".
    Together these two Chinese characters mean a tree planted in a shallow pot.
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  4. 4
    Which is which?
    What is the basic difference between a Chinese and a Japanese bonsai? The Japanese bonsai growers' preference leans towards natural-looking types for the purpose of imitating what is seen in the natural environment. The Chinese bonsai growers want their trees growing in a free-form shape, pruning them a bit in the process.
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  5. 5
    Bonsai are not houseplants but outdoor plants.
    They are happier outside the whole year, even in summer. But autumn is the best time to prune them, especially the deciduous bonsai.
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  6. 6
    There is no such thing as bonsai seeds.
    Almost any tree or shrub can be transformed into a small tree infused with character.
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  7. 7
    Little bonsai do not grow into big bonsai.
    The leaf and twig are carefully trained to achieve the beautiful shape.
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Different Bonsai Styles

Before you start shaping a tree, decide first the style you want to do. Here are the different shapes and styles to choose from:

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  1. 1
    Formal or upright form (Chokkan).
    basis of bonsai style. This is a single upright trunk tapering towards the top and the most difficult form to achieve.
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  2. 2
    Informal upright form (Moyohgi).
    romantic aura of twisting and bending. This is a single upright trunk with well-balanced curves. The top usually bends toward the front. Like old trees dwelling in hills and fields, evoking dignity, grace and refinement of trunks and branches bent and twisted over long years. This is the most well known bonsai type.
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  3. 3
    Semi or full cascade (Kengai).
    overflowing potential growth. A single arching or cascading trunk, either severely slanted or drooping below the container. This form depicts a powerful will to live with its roots shooting into the soil and hanging on to life. This is one of the oldest, popular bonsai forms.
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  4. 4
    Group or forest.
    These are usually trees of related species to represent a miniature landscape.
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  5. 5
    Freeform A sparse single upright trunk can be straight, slanted, or curved characterized by a tasteful, simple elegance.
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  6. 6
    Broom form (Hokidachi).
    Sweeping the sky. Stands upright but the branches spread outwards.
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  7. 7
    Slanting form (Shakan).
    Unbalanced image of stability. Represent a tree growing in harsh environments like strong winds of storm swept seashore.
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  8. 8
    Driftwood (Sharimiki).
    Weaving of life and death. This is a dead tree but still living. Life and death intertwined. It symbolizes the meaning of life and the subtle and profound worldview of the East.
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  9. 9
    Literati form (Bunjingi).
    Tasteful elegance. The trunks are thin from the bottom to top. Its branches are thinned and sparse. It depicts the Japanese intellectuals of late 19th century, of aloofness and constraints of society.
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Characteristics of plants suitable for a good bonsai

If you are ready to start and wondering what plants will make good bonsai, here is a tip. Look for the following characteristics:

  1. 1
    Plants with small leaves because they make good twig form.
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  2. 2
    Plants with short internodes because they can endure container conditions.
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  3. 3
    Plants with attractive bark or roots because they can withstand intense pruning.
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Other characteristics worth considering:

  • Attractive bark or roots
  • Woody plants
  • Good trunk taper from soil to top

Suggested Outdoor Plants

A few examples of plants that have these physical attributes are: Apple, arbor vitae, azalea, boxwood, cedars, cypress, elms, quince, wisteria, maples, pomegranate, oaks, pyracantha, pines and junipers.

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Here's how you can create miniature trees with the bonsai look with simple steps

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Bonsai are relatively easy to make. Remember that training bonsai is an art.

  1. 1
    Pick a desirable plant.
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  2. 2
    Select a style suitable for the plant.
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  3. 3
    Carefully examine the plant to determine if it's appropriate for the style chosen.
    Establish the front and back.
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  4. 4
    Apply the rule of three – the triumvirate of heaven, man and earth.
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  5. 5
    Start pruning undesirable growth to make you see the plant better for the style you choose.
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  6. 6
    Observe the trimmed plant from all angles.
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  7. 7
    Continue to shape the plant according to the style.
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Materials:

  1. 1
    Bonsai soil.
    Japanese bonsai soils are akadama, kauma, fujisuna, hyuga, kiryu and keto. Learn how to mix the soil.
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  2. 2
    Coarse soil.
    Prevent the main soil inside the pot to spill out of the bottom. It also aids in draining water.
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  3. 3
    Wires.
    Use copper or aluminium (more pliable).
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  4. 4
    Scissors.
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  5. 5
    Training tools:
    Pliers, concave cutters, shears. Wire cutter, chopsticks.
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  6. 6
    Net for covering the hole in the pot.
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  7. 7
    Pot.
    Any pots, tray or plate.
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  8. 8
    Gloves and newspaper.
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  9. 9
    Green moss.
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  10. 10
    The plant.
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Steps:

Bonsai soil is significantly different from regular soil. This soil is granular for purpose of rapid drainage of water, air circulation and adds weight to anchor the tree. A standard mix is made of equal parts of organic, clay and gravel components. Sift to filter large soil or dust

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  1. 1
    Mix the soil.
    The ratio is 7:3 (Akadama soil 7, Kanuma 3).
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  2. 2
    Cut the wire and net and place inside the pot.
    Secure the net with the wire.
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  3. 3
    Place the coarse soil in the pot.
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  4. 4
    Trim extra twigs and leaves off the plant.
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  5. 5
    Take out the plant from its old pot.
    Remove the soil attach to it using the stick. Cut the extra root also.
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  6. 6
    Wire the root first, then put inside the pot.
    Pour the mixed soil evenly on the pot.
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  7. 7
    Fill the pot with the remaining soil – up to 80 percent of the pot.
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  8. 8
    Water your new bonsai plant.
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  9. 9
    Insert the green moss tightly over the soil.
    Moss keeps the water inside to prevent drying of plants.
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  10. 10
    Now you have your first bonsai.
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Care and Maintenance:

All bonsai needs light, air, water, nutrients and soil.

  1. 1
    Light.
    Sunlight is important for photosynthesis to produce the plant's green color.
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  2. 2
    Air.
    Good air circulation is best for the plant's good health. Protect it from strong wind to avoid breakage and desiccation.
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  3. 3
    Water.
    Water your plant daily.
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  4. 4
    Nutrients.
    Provide with the proper fertilizer while in the growing stage. Organic fertilizer can be fish emulsion and seaweed extract. Inorganic are the chemical fertilizers.
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  5. 5
    Pests and diseases.
    Observe your plant from pests' infestation and diseases. Treat the trees only if necessary. Take it away from other plants, treat it and isolate until infestation is controlled.
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  6. 6
    Periodic pruning.
    Once established and growing, the plant requires frequent pruning and pinching to achieve its style in its simplest form. Trim the foliage area. The root system is reduced also to maintain a shallow pot.
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  7. 7
    Directional training.
    This is to achieve the most drastic changes in the plant's direction. Wind copper or aluminium wire spirally around each small branch. Bend to the desired position until the branch sets. Some trees dislike wiring. An alternative to bending and shaping branches is guy wiring. The wire is anchored to the pot or other trunks.
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  8. 8
    Repotting.
    This is done to avoid the unhealthy consequences of a root-bound tree. Remove the root mass, prune it, and add fresh soil. Repotting depends on the rate of growth of the kind of plant used, from 1-5 years. The limited area of the pot inhibits the growth. The bonsai's design dictates the shape of the pot. Use a pot that is proportional to the size of the bonsai. The placement inside the pot is crucial to achieve aesthetic balance and harmony.
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  9. 9
    Winter care.
    Outdoor bonsai should have a cold dormancy period to maintain good health. Protect from direct sun and drying winds. It leads to moisture loss (desiccation). Keep in protected areas like in a cold window frame, window wee, unheated car garage, greenhouse, or even at mulch bed.
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  10. 10
    Variation care.
    Maintain the normal bonsai routine while you are away. Install a plant sitter or automatic watering system.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

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  1. 1
    On pruning.
    Don't take risks with power tools. Always wear eye goggles or full-face protection. Take precautions against dust. Do not apply too much force when cutting or trimming.
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  2. 2
    On tools.
    Ensure maintenance of power tools and cutters. Store safely after use. Keep away from children. Always be mindful of bystanders if using power tools.
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Questions and Answers

How long does the bonsai cascade process?

The bonsai cascade process depends on how you start to grow your cascade bonsai.
If you start from seeds, this will take years to be able to create your cascade bonsai.
If you can get a grown tree which is still small, it will take a shorter process to make one. So, if you can find those that have grown already, you just need to shape it the way you want so that it would be in perfect shape.
Cascade bonsai would go through the process of selection of a potential bonsai, the wiring and pruning and lastly, taking care of it.
It really requires patience when you want to make your own cascade bonsai so that you will attain the shape wherein its branches would cascade out of the pot.

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What is a bonsai driftwood sharimiki?

Sharimiki is the Japanese term for driftwood bonsai wherein there is a large portion on the bonsai which is deadwood and a part is living. These type of bonsai can be collected in the wild but can also be done manually by stripping and carving the branches to make it look like there is a dead portion leaving a part which is healthy.

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Categories : Gardening

Recent edits by: Anonymous, Lynn, Eng

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