Sunday, August 31, 2008
Story by:Kurt Schefken
The fine art of Bonsai has been around in the Japanese and Chinese cultures for hundreds of years. Over the last half century it has become popular in the United States as well. It takes a long time to grow a bonsai tree, even though they are very small. The project needs care and patience, as well as some artistic ability. The bonsai must blend in with its container to create a visual portrait of a full grown tree.
Usually bonsai is a hardy tree that is forced to grow in a small pot. Some tropical plants such a a pomegranate have been used successfully as bonsai. Trees or plant with small foliage must be used or the leaves will look out of proportion. Outstanding bonsai have been made from zeikova, ginkgo and some pies and maples. Plants that would be considered unattractive in other situations, such as runty plants with twisted or gnarled trunks and branches are great candidates for bonsai. You can buy such plants in a nursery, or go on a hunt in the woods for them.
The bonsai pot is an integral part of the design. They can be as small as 2 inches wide, or as large as 25 inches. Some are baked clay, and others are glazed. They need to have drainage holes.
The soil for bonsai should be able to hold moisture. Most people start with a coarse layer of soil at the bottom and add fine humus rich soil at the top. Usually moss, or spreading plants such as helxine soleirolii is placed on top of the soil, or even small stones.
The root ball of the small tree should be completely cleaned of soil and the roots cut back drastically. This will keep the plant dwarfed. Cut back the top of the tree to balance with the roots and put it in the pot, packing the soil around the roots and tree firmly. To acclimate the tree, it should be watered well and placed in dappled shade for a few weeks. Then it can be moved to full sun. If you start your bonsai in the spring, you will have more success since the light gets stronger gradually.
As the plant grows yo will have to re pot it, probably once a year. So make sure you schedule this activity so that your plant is always in the best shape possible.
Creating a bonsai is an artistic endeavor, so there is not just one way to do it but many. Pruning and cutting out new growth to achieve the exact balance you want will take trial and error and a good eye for lines. You can force the plant to bend or look warped by wrapping it with wire and pulling the branches down.
If you are fascinated by the idea of creating a bonsai, you will find that it is fairly easy to do. The tradition has a certain air of mystique, but the process is not difficult, it just takes time and patience.
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Kurt Schefken is writing mainly for http://www.insidewoodworking.com , an online publication on the topic of woodworking machinery . You can come across his contributions on workbenches and tool storage on his site.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Story by: Ashley Jenner
IMPORTANT - NEVER LET YOUR BONSAI TREE DRY OUT!
WHEN YOUR BONSAI TREE ARRIVES WATER IMMEDIATELY AND PLACE IN A SUITABLE POSITION AFTER READING THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.
NOTE: Within 2 weeks of getting your bonsai tree it's quite normal that some of the leaves will turn yellow and fall, this happens as your bonsai tree acclimatises to its new surroundings.
Flick any yellowing leaves off and they will re-grow. DO NOT pluck them as this damages the new buds.
Fill a bowl or sink with tepid water. Immerse your bonsai tree so the water comes over the rim of the bonsai pot and covers the soil, and leave for five minutes. Place it on a draining board and allow the excess water to drain away.
You must not let your bonsai tree sit in water after draining.
If you follow this method your bonsai tree will get the required amount of water.
For best results we recommend using a humidity tray and mist spaying twice a day too.
Your bonsai tree should be watered approximately every other day, more often during the hottest summer months,
Remember the soil should be moist to the touch at all times, if wet don't water, NEVER let your bonsai tree DRY OUT.
Your bonsai tree needs plenty of natural light but NOT blazing midday sun as the leaves will burn and die.
If your bonsai tree grows large leaves on long light green leggy shoots it's not getting enough light. Any warm bright area will do,
Window sills may not be the best place due to the constant fluctuation in temperature, however if a window sill is the only place you can keep your bonsai tree, be sure to rotate it every week.
Once you have found a suitable place for your bonsai tree, leave it there so it can acclimatise itself with its new environment.
You will know its in the right place as it will flourish and grow many new shoots.
If its in the wrong place it will loose its leaves.
Indoor bonsai trees will benefit from being outside in a semi shaded area during the summer months.
All bonsai trees need fertiliser to make up for the lack of nutrients normally available in the wild.
Either use a specially formulated bonsai feed or Phostrogen tomato feed.
We recommend that you feed once a week with half the recommended strength during summer and once a month during the winter.
Be sure to fertilise after watering and do not exceed the specified dose as over feeding will burn the roots and possibly kill your bonsai tree.
Your bonsai tree needs pruning all year round, more so during summer.
Just cut off the long shoots to one or two leaves to maintain the shape of your bonsai tree.
For more info see our Video "Practical Guide to the Care of Indoor Bonsai Trees"
You may need to repot your bonsai tree every other year and should be done in early spring.
This is done to maintain fine fibourous healthy roots.
To do this tease your bonsai tree out of the bonsai pot and loosen about 1 third of the soil from the sides and underside of the root ball and trim away the long hanging roots. (Use a clean sharp pair of root cutters)
Clean your bonsai pot or choose a new one.
Repot using a free draining soil mix (1 part fine grit 2 parts organic soil) or buy a pre mixed bag of bonsai soil.
*Brown crispy leaves - Lack of water. (Follow watering instructions above) *Sticky leaves - Your Bonsai could have Aphids, whitefly or greenfly. Check the underside of leaves for both insects and eggs, to treat place the Bonsai outside and spray with a contact insecticide and be sure to cover both sides of the leaves.
*Every leaf turning yellow - Over watering (follow the watering instructions above)
If your tree suffers any of the above conditions STOP fertilising immediately as this will do more harm than good.
You can start to fertilize only when new growth appears.
If you follow these simple instructions your bonsai tree will stay healthy and reward you for many years to come.
For more information or advice please contact us
About The Author
Owner of Ws Bonsai