The Bonsai

To talk about them is to enter a world that, until relatively recently, remained accessible only to a lucky few from a few East Asian countries. Some call them Art, others oppose nature, but what no one can deny is that they are plants that attract a lot of attention, one way or another.

Now, knowing its origin and history are easier than ever and do you know the best? You won’t have to leave the site to discover all (or many) of the secrets of this practice.
What is bonsai?
But for the avoidance of doubt, let’s start by explaining the meaning of the word “bonsai”. Currently, the truth is that we quite confuse what is a real bonsai with what is a pro-bonsai project or a bonsai, as Not all the plants grown in these trays that they usually like so much can be called.

In fact, I have also seen fresh rooted cuttings in some nurseries which, planted in trays, were sold under this label at prices almost equal to those of real “miniature trees.” Considering what has been said,But for the avoidance of doubt, let’s start by explaining the meaning of the word “bonsai”. Currently, the truth is that we quite confuse what is a real bonsai with what is a pro-bonsai project or a bonsai, as Not all the plants grown in these trays that they usually like so much can be called.

In fact, I have also seen fresh rooted cuttings in some nurseries which, planted in trays, were sold under this label at prices almost equal to those of real “miniature trees.” Considering what has been said, if we want to be absolutely sure of those in front of us, they are a penai (as they would say in China), the aforementioned must have these characteristics:
It has a well-defined style, which can resemble the shape and growth of a plant that lives in the wild. Also, the plant profile is triangular.
The trunk is thick, 2 centimeters or more in diameter and conical, wider at the base than at the top.
It’s been running for years (at least 5, which is usually what it takes to give it a style).
Is the growth of branches and trunks natural? that is, it is not forced. We don’t see, for example, a trunk that grew straight and then bends sharply.
The size, shape, and color of the tray it’s planted in doesn’t stand out. I mean, it’s pretty, but let the plant take center stage.
Bonsai inspires calmness. It is true that this is not always easily perceived, but if you end up liking this world, you will feel it in time 🙂.

And what isn’t bonsai?
I’ll admit something: it’s a little difficult for me to answer this question. I’ll tell you why: in recent years the standards established by the first teachers are no longer so… stable. In addition, there are many plants that could pass as bonsai, or even are called so. But, even everything, we could say that it is NOT bonsai …:

Freshly ground cuttings
Herbs, bulbs
Palms and Cycas
Caudex plants (such as desert rose)
Trees and shrubs with very thin trunks and little or no tillering
The calls ” indoor bonsai »

What is the origin and history of this… Art?
We turn now to talk about origins and history. And for this, we have to go back to a time, about two thousand years ago, where in China, the nobles and people of high society began to work trees and shrubs in the area to ensure the eternity, which they believed they would have if they donated them to the Taoist monks.

These plants were very special to the Chinese, not only because they represented a bridge between God and man, but also because they imitated nature. Although it sounds a bit strange, he didn’t have to go far to get inspired, as plants with high mountains do not grow as much as those living at lower altitudes, as the climatic conditions are not as favorable for growth or development.
But, fortunately, the knowledge about bonsai did not stay in China. 800 years ago, some of these trees were imported to Japan, where they were interpreted by the Zen concept of “the beauty of austere severity”.

This made the trees function in order to represent a landscape, often accompanied by suisekis (stones whose shape and colors recall an object or something in nature), accent plants (small plants that “help” the bonsai to complete the landscape it represents), and/or kamemon (a poster with paintings or calligraphy hanging on a wall, vertically).
How are they classified?
Bonsai are classified according to their size or style:

By size
Wheat: are those that are less than 5 cm in size.
Mame: they measure between 5 and 15 cm.
Sohin: they are less than 25 cm in size.
Komono : they measure between 15 and 31 centimeters.
Tsumono : they measure between 30 and 60 cm.
Shoulder: they measure between 60 and 120 cm.
Hachi-wei : they are larger than 130 cm.

With style
There is a wide variety of styles, which are:

Chokkan: vertical, with a straight body and a triangular silhouette.
Moyoi : informal vertical, with a hollow body.
Sakan : the trunk is inclined no more than 45º.
Kengai : or waterfall. The trunk lights itself so that its top is below the edge of the container.
Han Kengai : half waterfall. The top of the trunk is above the base of the container.
Fukingashi : or swept the wind. All branches grow on the same side.
Negari : the roots are exposed, usually on a rock.
Bongin : o Literati, the trunk is thin, with an almost non
Sukan: it is the same plant with two trunks, one of which is thicker and bigger than the other.
Ikadabuki : is the raft style, where many branches are born from the same trunk that is semi-buried.
Yose-Ue : is the forest style. An odd number of specimens (unless there are only two) are planted, which are processed according to the rules of triangulation, both individually and in groups.
Cambodia: it is multi-calendar and works as if it were a forest.
Hokidachi : is the style of broom. The branches emerge from the same point on the trunk and are fanned upwards.
Sekijoju : one or more trees are planted in the hollows of a rock.
How is a bonsai grown?
Growing a bonsai can be a wonderful experience because if we do it well, we will feel much calmer which will help us to have a better life. But yes, so that there are no problems or, if there are, they can be solved more or less well, it is very important to always, always and always present (sorry for the repetitions, but it is the first
thing that is usually forgotten) this:
Patience and respect

The first is to perform the tasks you need at the right time. And the second because if you don’t respect the tree or the bush, if you don’t respect its natural cycles, sooner or later you will end, because no plant can do things as fast as humans.

Starting from this, then you can think about the care itself, which is:
Location: whenever possible, it should be kept abroad. Although in miniature, they are trees and shrubs and, in fact, if planted in the ground they will grow to the height that, by genetics, corresponds to them.
Only tropical and subtropical species grown in cold climates require winter protection in a room away from heat sources.
Substrate: It depends a lot on the species you are growing. A very good standard mix is ​​70% akadama with 30% kiryuzuna, but if you have Ficus, Ulmus or Zelkova, which are very hardy and adaptable, you can plant them in equal parts black peat with perlite. You have more information, Aqui.
Pruning: there are two types:
Pruning: also known as maintenance pruning. It consists of the gradual formation of the bonsai, allowing the growth of 7-8 pairs of leaves and the cutting of 2-3 pairs. Absorbers should also be removed unless they are to be used to create a forest.
Formative pruning: is what is given so that it has the desired shape. It is recommended to do it slowly (in 2-3 years), as the energy the plant uses to recover is enormous and, if it is a very drastic pruning, it cannot be exceeded.
Don’t forget to disinfect tools before and after use and seal wounds with healing paste (you can get it Aquí ).
Wiring: only if necessary. It is used to move the branches where we want, with the help of specific bonsai cables. It takes place between spring and autumn, making turns between which the same separation remains. Check the cable from time to time so that it does not get stuck on the branch.
Transplantation: every 2 or 3 years, depending on the species. If possible, the entire substrate is renewed, and the roots are cut a little (the volume should be 1/3 larger than the volume of the crown).

Where to buy bonsai?
If you want to buy a real bonsai, you I suggest go to a nursery or store that specializes in its production. In “conventional” nurseries you will find many plants with this label, but which are nothing more than bonsai projects, or even that.

Although yes, it is not cheap. A tree or shrub that has years of work behind it costs as little as €40 and can exceed €2000.

But do not worry.

Small trees that sell cheaply are an excellent starting material. if you’re not planning on going to nursery right now, here are a few (ignore age, by the way, as even the experts don’t agree on this point):
Looking for a hardy tree suitable for beginners? You won’t find anything like this. Withstands frost, heavy pruning and disease.Grown outdoors all year round, in full sun.


A beautiful evergreen tree that will undoubtedly give you a lot of joy, and also withstands weak frosts (up to -2ºC).
If it is very cold in your area, you will need protection.

The wild olive is the ideal tree for growing in hot and temperate climates. It is evergreen and can withstand heat without problems as long as it has water.
Grown outdoors unless there are significant frosts in winter.

In recent years we have started to see in nurseries and garden stores some small trees planted in very beautiful trays that were put inside a kind of box with a label that says: Indoor bonsai, which often creates confusion, because … what is it a bonsai? and … why are there plants that are considered internal?

We will talk about all this and much more in this special so that we can give these tiny trees the best care.
And let’s start, of course, at the beginning. If you’ve just entered this fantasy world, it’s perfectly normal to have a lot of doubts, because no one is born knowing. You slowly realize that what you see on the labels of some plants sometimes does not correspond to reality, as is the case with indoor bonsai.

A bonsai is a tree or shrub, derived from seed, cutting or layering, that has been worked to give it a certain style and maintain it year after year. This style is not created by humans but is an imitation of the styles that plants adopt in their natural environment (you have more information on this topic Aquí ).

For example: those that grow in areas where the wind blows strongly and/or regularly, will produce abundant branches that will only grow in one direction, while their trunk also grows after the wind, as it does not allow it to do so in another direction way. This, in the bonsai world, is known as the Fukinagashi (windblown) style.
Therefore, not all plants called “bonsai” are bonsai, especially if they are sold in garden centers or nurseries (except, of course, specialists).

Another important issue is age. Can we trust how old they tell us they are? The truth is that it is practically impossible to know the age, since not even the teachers agree . Counting starts from the moment of cutting or layering Wait for it to root? Or, should it be measured when first planted in a bonsai tray? It is not known. The season of “indoor bonsai” is used more than anything else to make the plant itself more expensive: the taller the sellers say, the more expensive it will be.
For all this, we will give you a number of tips and tricks so that you can enjoy your little tree for many, many years 🙂.

What care do you need?
If you dare to make a bonsai (or a bonsai project), consider:

Location
You need to place it in a room where a lot of natural light enters, but which in turn is protected from drafts, such as in the living room.

Watering
Irrigation should be moderate. Let it dry out a bit before watering again. A) Yes, it is usually watered 3 times a week in the summer and 1-2 times a week the rest of the year. Use rainwater or fresh water for this.

Transplant

It depends on the species. Usually every 2 years, but it can be every 3, or even every year. To know when it’s your tree’s turn, just look at it: if you see roots on the surface and/or coming out of the drainage holes, then it’s time to transplant it.

The time for this will be late winter-early spring.

How is it possible?
The first thing you need to do is prepare the substrate. There is a mixture that proves very good for all species, and it is the following: 70% akadama + 30% kiryuzuna, but you can also choose to change the kiryuzuna for kanuma if they are acidophilic plants (Camellias, Gardenias) or conifers.

Once you have it, follow this step by step:

Allow the bonsai substrate to dry thoroughly.
Remove it carefully.
Clean the tray thoroughly with a cloth dampened with water and dry it.
Place two pieces of wire mesh (one in each hole) and secure with wire.
Add a layer of substrate.
With the help of a bonsai hook and with great care, remove the substrate from the roots. When you’re done, put them (roots only) in a bowl of water to remove any dirt that may have remained.
Cut the roots that look black with previously disinfected scissors.
Place it on the tray. It should be slightly above the edge of the disc (0.5 cm or less) and slightly off center (0.3 cm or less).
Secure the tree with the wire you used for the drainage grates.
Fill the tray with substrate.
Water.


Pruning indoor bonsai will be done with a view to keeping it in style. So what needs to be done is to observe the tree from a certain distance and see which branches have grown too much. Once you identify them, you need to cut them with scissors previously disinfected with alcohol.

The ideal time to do this is at the end of winter, when the temperature starts to stay above 15ºC.

Wiring
It is not usually necessary. The plant sold as bonsai already has a defined style, so its branches are already in the place it touches. If not, they can be wired in the spring and left wired until fall. But it is convenient to check it regularly to prevent the cable from leaving a mark on the tree.

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During the entire growing season, spring and summer, you must pay with a specific fertilizer for bonsai following the instructions specified on the package. You can also pay in autumn if you live in an area where frosts do not occur or are weak (up to 2ºC) and of short duration.

And with that we’re done. Hope it was useful for you and you can enjoy your plant 🙂.

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