Friday, October 5, 2007

Bonsai Care

Often considered an art form, bonsai care can be a meditative and enjoyable activity for anyone. The trees used can be one of many popular bonsai species such as juniper and black or white pine as well as some tropical tree varieties. How you care for your bonsai is the most important aspect of this activity.
What is Bonsai?
Originally practiced in China over a thousand years ago, bonsai constituted the growing of a single tree in pots. Early specimens often resembled animals, dragons and birds. The Japanese adopted the art for in the 12th century by means of Zen Buddhism. First practiced only by monks the art form soon spread to include the aristocracy.
The term, bonsai, literally means tray planting or tree pot. The term specifically refers to the training and artistic vision applied to the trees. For the Japanese, bonsai care represented a fusion of ancient beliefs with the eastern philosophies of harmony between man and nature.
Caring for Your Bonsai
A fun and rewarding activity, bonsai care requires diligence and practice. As noted above, the species of tree may vary depending on personal taste. The type of care your bonsai will require depends on the tree species you choose to grow. You should follow the general growing guidelines outlined for this particular tree. To dwarf the plant to a workable size you may employ a number of techniques. The main methods used are use of a small ceramic pot, foliage pruning, root pruning and direct sunlight exposure.
Your individual bonsai care will determine the form that your tree will take. There are several different main styles of bonsai, which include formal upright, informal upright, slanting, cascade, windswept and forest. Remember this is not a strict list of styles; you may work with another, lesser-known style, or provide a variation on one of the main styles.
Growing Guidelines
One of the most important aspects of bonsai care is watering. Requirements will vary by species, but it is important to note that regardless of the species of the tree you must be sure that your tree never dries out. Generally, you will need to water the tree when the surface soil appears dry.
You will not be required to immediately prune your bonsai upon purchase. However, this is a main point in any bonsai care, since pruning will help to bring the desired shape to your tree. You can accomplish most pruning by simply pinching the new growth between your thumb and forefinger.
Also be sure to consider lighting requirements and fertilization. As with watering, lighting will depend on the type of tree. Fertilization, utilizing a good balanced fertilizer, should be restricted to the growing season.
Art & Mediation
Bonsai care can be an artistic, meditative, and horticultural experience. With correct bonsai care, you can be sure to guarantee your success and the continued growth of your tree.
by Katya Coen

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