Make Bonsai Your Home’s Best Friend

Finding a balance between the contradictory need to live in the city and the love of nature is a constant struggle. But you can successfully pull it off, albeit on a miniature scale. You can achieve this with the oriental art of “bonsai”, which, at first glance, arouses curiosity and admiration.

In ancient times, the Chinese believed that those who could take care of a miniature tree for a long time obtained eternity for their soul. Supposedly, for them, a tree could be the link between the divine and the human, between heaven and earth. However, it was the Japanese who advanced the art and made it popular.

How to start
Bonsai trees are not genetically dwarf plants; they are kept small by a series of techniques and steps that, if done correctly, would allow the tree to live as long as its parent species. The good thing here is that any tree can be grown as a bonsai. All you have to do is take care of it and know a few details before you start. So where to start ?

First, choose a tree you like and match it to your home, environment and climate conditions. Remember to consider the size of the tree’s leaves for optimal growth. People like to pick up a tree with small leaves because it is easier to model.

One way is to buy a young plant, called “prebonsai”, which consists of a sprouted tree that is in its infancy. This way, the whole bonsai process becomes faster. You may be able to buy seeds for a plant and grow them bonsai style. Or you can take the easier route: buy a cultivated bonsai tree and take good care of it. However, this option takes away the fun and opportunity to learn how to grow bonsai. Know that there are no “bonsai seeds”. So, don’t fall prey to buying bonsai seeds.

The seed from which a bonsai comes is just an ordinary tree seed. The process of making a bonsai comes later, after its germination. When you grow a bonsai from seed, you should plant it in the fall, so that it starts to sprout in the spring. It is always best to select trees that can adapt easily to the climate of where you live; this way it will work in your favor.

To take care
“Looking at a tree in miniature form is a completely different feeling. The bonsai trees in my house are not only an attractive conversation starter, but caring for them is a great stress reliever,” says Delhi-based plant enthusiast Swapna Soni .Pruning is one of the ways to create and shape a bonsai.However, when pruning, it is very important not to change the original silhouette of the tree too much.Constant pruning is necessary not only for shaping the tree, but also to take care of it.

Regular wiring ensures an abundant bonsai with strong and numerous leaves. “The shaping of angles and the generation of branches can be done by wiring. However, it is very important to do it correctly, as it can be a disaster if not done correctly. If two branches are at the same height of the tree, keep one of them and delete the other. Remove branches with unnatural twists. Also remove disproportionately thick branches from the top of the tree,” says Delhi-based bonsai specialist Shalini Vohra.

Pruning takes care of two aspects – keeping the trees miniaturized and returning a good shape. The ultimate goal is to create a bonsai that resembles its natural form as closely as possible. Spring and summer are the seasons for pruning. However, this will depend on the type of tree you have.

A good concave knife is what you need to make sure hollow wounds stay
behind heal much better than those left by normal cutters. However, if this is not easy, hire an experienced horticulturist or gardener. Keep some basic things in mind, such as removing disproportionately thick branches from the top of the tree.

Another important technique for shaping trees is wiring. By carefully wrapping anodized aluminum or annealed copper around the branches, it is possible to bend and shape them to at least some extent. Wiring can be applied year-round, but be sure to remove the wire before it begins to scar the branches that are getting thicker.

These are not the only ways to maintain a bonsai. Some methods include defoliating the tree to get smaller leaves or to balance out its shape.

Then there is also the ‘jin and shari’ technique which gives the bonsai an aged and mature look by creating areas of dead wood on the tree, as sometimes occurs in nature.

Necessary care
Bonsai require constant love and attention; caring for them can also help develop patience. “Indoor bonsai trees add beauty, help purify the air, and add freshness to the living space,” says Swapna. Constantly check the bonsai soil and keep it moist. Water, if it becomes dry on top, but be sure not to flood it. If you plan to repot your bonsai, simply remove it from the old pot and carefully transfer it to the new one.

Make sure you don’t keep your bonsai in a dark corner. It needs enough sun, water and air to thrive. Check the humidity and temperature of where the jar is kept. Subtropical trees grow best in climates like that of India. They can also be grown outdoors as they can withstand all weather changes.

When selecting a bonsai for your home, it is always wise to choose a tree native to your environment. To guarantee their optimal growth, there are fertilizers suitable for bonsai on the market. In addition to these, you can also use the regular bonsai fertilizers. Remember to always check for pests and fungal growth. If you notice growth, stop it at the very beginning.

Anyone who loves plants and nature clearly has a compassionate nature and raising a bonsai tree yourself further strengthens this bond. As long as you love your plant, it will stay with you and stay healthy too. Remember that growing a bonsai is not a race or a destination. It’s an endless journey.

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