Bonsai can be easier than you think |

Bonsai trees are traditionally grown in shallow pots or pans, leaving only a small space for the roots. To bonsai a particular plant, it is necessary to drastically prune the roots – and the top of the plant – to fit it proportionately in your container. A plant can only become a bonsai if the size of the plant is proportional to its roots. As in nature, a tree generally has the same amount of mass below ground as above ground.

Johnson offered many wonderful tips for growing bonsai trees successfully, including the easiest specimens and his personal recipe for bonsai soil.

Red and trident maples are perfect for bonsai beginners. They will tolerate being potted, they will tolerate root pruning and they are twiggy. Some species, such as magnolias and dogwoods, are almost impossible to bonsai because they will not tolerate root pruning.

As with any living plant, soil and drainage are essential for overall health. There are many options for bonsai soil, which can be found in small bags at garden centers. Because Johnson starts a lot of bonsai, he mixes his own soil. Its mix includes soil conditioner, gray cobblestone sand, gravel and masonry sand. This mixture allows the roots to breathe and ensures good drainage.

I exceeded my reservations. Now that I know the premise, I’m confident that I can prune a tree into the type of bonsai that best suits my style, whether or not it’s a traditional Japanese style.

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