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How to Grow Bonsai Trees

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Authored by Suzanne Alicie in Gardening
Published on 07-20-2009

Originating in China nearly 1000 years ago, Bonsai refers to the art of growing and training miniaturized trees in containers. Bonsai actually means “tray planted”, but planting a small tree in a pot is not what makes it a bonsai. Bonsai trees are miniaturized through pruning the roots and branches, wiring and employing other techniques to make this tiny tree look like a mature full sized tree. There are many different types of bonsai, from junipers and maples to ficus and pine.

Bonsai trees can be grown from seeds or cuttings. Since bonsai trees grow in such a small container and in very little soil it is very important to know how to grow and take care of your bonsai tree. Bonsai trees need very little water, and in fact require a special soil that will dry easier than regular potting soil. Bonsai trees do need to be fed twice a year. These trees need nitrogen, potash, iron and phosphoric acid.

Bonsai trees may not need a lot of water to drink but they thrive in humidity. By placing a tray filled with pebbles and water under the pot for your bonsai tree you are enabling the water to evaporate and humidify the area around the tree. The purpose of the pebbles is to keep the base of the pot up out of the water. Keeping the trees roots dry but providing the humid climate that the tree likes is very important.

Sunshine is important for growing a healthy bonsai tree. Place the tree near a window where it will get direct sun or place it outdoors for several hours daily.

If you are new to the art of growing bonsai trees, you may wonder what exactly the point is. To put it simply the idea is to achieve the desired shape with your bonsai while you balance the above ground and root growth.

Shaping begins while the tree is very young by using copper wire to control the trunk and branches. Leaves, needles, flowers and fruit of the bonsai tree should be kept in proportion to the tree itself and the container it grows in. This is easy to say, but much more difficult to achieve. Growing a perfectly balanced bonsai tree is considered quite an achievement. This is a challenging hobby that requires a great deal of patience.

Many people consider growing bonsai trees to be a nearly Zen like experience. With patience and skill you can turn a simple tree into a work of art. By pruning and wiring meticulously you can achieve a special shape to your bonsai tree. This takes not only time and patience, but also plenty of research and knowledge to know how and when to prune the tree, how and when to wire the branches and how to achieve the growth pattern you want. If you don’t know someone who grows bonsai who can teach you, a visit to the library is in order. You don’t want to jump in with both feet and end up with a dead miniature tree to show for your efforts.

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