If you fancy a new hobby then the art of Bonsai can be an amazing and enjoyable pastime. Even Bonsai masters had to start somewhere, so you mustn’t feel intimidated if you fancy having a go at growing your very own miniature tree.
Let’s start with some Bonsai basics. Contrary to popular opinion a Bonsai tree doesn’t grow dwarfed naturally, and they are certainly not a special hybrid plant. Nope, a Bonsai tree is artificially modified by means of root and branch pruning to keep it undersized.
So now we know what a Bonsai tree is, let’s talk about how we go about growing one.
It’s advisable, especially as you are just starting out to grow your own Bonsai tree, rather than buy an already established one from a specialist. The reason being, you will likely make many mistakes along the way. By growing you own tree you will be constantly learning as your Bonsai is maturing and therefore any errors will not be as costly.
You will either grow your Bonsai tree from a seed or a young sapling. What’s important is to choose a tree that is best suited to the environment where it will be living. Most trees can become Bonsai, but like in life, some are better suited than others. Try to choose a tree that is relatively slow growing with petite size leaves and you will be fine.
When it comes to planting your seed or sapling you can either plant it outside in the garden or try to pot-it-up inside. I guess it really depends on the time of year, and how quickly you want your Bonsai to become established. Obviously trees grow outside, so logically, the best place initially for your Bonsai seed or sapling would be in the garden. However, if you planting during the winter months nothing is going to grow until spring, when the soil is warmer and your seed or saplings breaks from dormancy. Therefore, you may prefer to artificially stimulate warmer conditions by growing your seed or sapling indoors.
Once you are confident your seed or sapling is becoming more established by growing foliage and small branches, its time to think about moving your Bonsai to its permanent home. A Bonsai pot should be chosen carefully, as your miniature tree will be spending the rest of its life housed in it. As a general rule your Bonsai pot should roughly be as wide as the longest branch, and as deep as the trunk is wide. Obviously, your Bonsai is likely to be still growing, so it’s important to allow for additional growth when choosing a pot.
Before you move your Bonsai to its new home its a good idea to inspect its roots. Hopefully you should find lots of growth within the root ball. A good tip here to remove the roots from the soil is to use a lolly-pop stick. If you notice a long tap root, you can safely trim this off before potting up. If your Bonsai has been growing vigorously and roots are well developed you can safely trim about one third without worry. You should also consider pruning the top. This will help balance your Bonsai before transplanting it.