Sunday, April 8, 2007

Types of Bonsai

Bonsai Trees Care

There are approximately 534 different plant species that can be used to create both indoor and outdoor Bonsai plants. They range from Elms to Pines, from Bamboo to Junipers and much more. You can see the complete list of all 534 species at this link - Complete Bonsai List.

As you can see, there are numerous plants that would make good Bonsai tree plantings. It can be a little overwhelming especially to the beginner Bonsai enthusiast, but it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is consider all the important factors before selecting a species (native to your area) that’s right for your climate and surroundings.

Some plant species used to create Bonsai are considered “classic.” Those include Junipers, Maples and Pines. Other suitable species of plants include Birch, Beech, Elm, Ginkgo, Hornbeam, Cedar and Yew. As a side note, Larch also makes a good Bonsai, but has a tendency to shed branches for no apparent reason.

If you prefer plants that will flower, consider using Apple, Cherry, Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Japanese Quince and Azalea. These are probably the best choices for flowering Bonsai.

The following is just a small sampling of the more popular species of plants used to make indoor and outdoor Bonsai. They are listed by their botanical names followed by their common names in parenthesis.

Bonsai Trees Care

Early Global Beginnings

Bonsai Trees Care

It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the rest of the world learned about the Bonsai. Once Japan opened its borders to visitors, they soon learned of these small trees being grown in pots.

Soon after this, other parts of the world began displaying the Bonsai in its magnificent glory. Bonsai began appearing in places like Austria, France and England. Those who first saw the Bonsai quickly fell in love with them and the demand for them shot up tremendously. However, these small plants became difficult to find so Horticulturists began to train other types of plants to resemble Bonsai. This also led to different styles in which to fashion Bonsai using various instruments like wire and so on.

The popularity of the Bonsai spread globally and eventually spread to the West. Soldiers returning home often brought Bonsai with them as well as information about them. Soon they became just as popular to Westerners. Americans embraced the Bonsai and developed a deeper appreciation for Asian culture and for this incredible little planted tree.

Because the demand of Bonsai spread throughout the world, new issues for growing and caring for them arose. It became apparent that since there are various types of climates in different parts of the globe, the Bonsai would not fare as well in certain climates, making them difficult to take care of or keep alive.

It was for this reason that the Japanese, who first saw the opportunity to grow and export Bonsai, started experimenting with different types of trees that would survive various types of climates. Bonsai then became more of an art form because people all over the globe could fashion plants that could survive in their region into beautiful little Bonsai creations.

As a result of this activity, new rules had to be formed for the growth and care of the Bonsai. New techniques for styling and pruning them had to be put in place in order for anyone to be successful.

Over time, the Bonsai continued to evolve into new varieties of plants with new rules and practices for their care. While the Bonsai still remains a powerful influence on Japanese culture, it is beloved worldwide.

Today, Bonsai trees can be purchased in a garden center or nursery in the form of cuttings that are used to begin the process of growing Bonsai. Various plant seeds are also used to grow Bonsai. Both will give you a good start, but you need to remember, especially with cuttings, that they are not full Bonsai, only a start to creating one.

Bonsai Trees Care

Early Beginnings in Korea

Bonsai Trees Care

Korea also has a long history and love of the Bonsai tree. During the 1st century C.E., the Chinese formed the Silla and Koguryo kingdoms, were the first to introduce the Koreans to Bonsai. It was during the Lee Dynasty in 1392 that the Bonsai became popular in Korea.

The Koreans added their own twist to Bonsai gardening by introducing the use of miniature stones to create their miniature landscapes. This practice became a specialized type of art form that remains popular to this day with the Koreans. As a matter of fact, the Koreans value the Bonsai so much that they lay claim to a host of Bonsai organizations, including the famous Korea National Bonsai Association.

Bonsai Trees Care

Early Beginnings in Japan

Bonsai Trees Care

It appears that China wasn’t the only Asian country with historical roots to the Bonsai. Japan also played a role in their history. According to Japanese history, the Bonsai was first introduced by Buddhist Monks back during the Heian period which ran from 794 to 1191. It is said that the Japanese were quick to adopt some of the Chinese culture, which influences Japan’s fine art for which they are known.

It wasn’t long before growing Bonsai spread from the monks to those of royalty where they became a symbol of honor and prestige. Once the Bonsai found its place with aristocrats, the philosophy of Bonsai dramatically changed from that of its Eastern sister, China. For example, the Chinese see Bonsai as a symbol of harmony between man, his soul and nature, while the Japanese see Bonsai as a representation of strong, ancient beliefs in their culture.

It wasn’t until China invaded Japan during the 14th century that Bonsai became known as a sophisticated form of art. The elite of Japan would actually pot these small plants and display them indoors, sometimes on shelves that were specially made for them. To make their appearance look more polished, the trees were cut down in size leaving just the bare essentials. This practice was based on the Japanese philosophy of giving the trees “simple beauty.”

Bonsai Trees Care

Early Beginnings in China

Bonsai Trees Care

As legend goes, it is believed that the art of creating Bonsai trees got its start in China during the Han Dynasty. It is said that the Emperor of the time wanted to create a miniature landscape so he could look out over it and see the empire that he ruled. Once his miniature landscape was in place, he sent out a decree that no one else in the kingdom was allowed to have a miniature landscape such as his. If caught with one, they would be put to death.

Another Chinese legend tells of a different beginning for the Bonsai tree. This time, it is said that the Bonsai actually dates back to the 4th century. According to this version of history, a Chinese civil servant by the name of Guen-Ming was growing these miniature wonders. It is said that Guen-Ming began the art of Bonsai gardening with a small pot of Chrysanthemums. Many throughout history believe that this was truly the beginning of growing Bonsai trees.

During the Tang Dynasty about 200 years later, the art of Bonsai was still evidenced. As a matter of fact, as late as 1972, the tomb of Prince Zhang Huai of the Tang Dynasty era was opened and proof of the existence of the Bonsai was evidenced through wall paintings of plants resembling Bonsai trees. In addition, these paintings depicted servants carrying small potted trees also resembling Bonsai, further cementing their existence.

Bonsai Trees Care

History of Bonsai

Bonsai Trees Care

Bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) first appeared more than 1,000 years ago. The original art of Bonsai planting was first known as “Punsai”, the practice of growing plants in a small pot.

Later, the art became known as Bonsai because “bon” means tray and “sai” means growing or planting. When the two syllables are put together, it translates to tray growing or planting. Bonsai today is equated with the growing of small trees, when in fact it is the growing of many types of small trees.

When the art of Bonsai first began, the small trees didn’t have many leaves on them and they had trunks that were grotesquely deformed. These deformed trunks appeared as though they could be birds, dragons or other forms. Because of this deformity, the more grotesque the trunk, the more highly sought these little trees were. The same holds true even today.

Bonsai Trees Care

Welcome to Bonsai World

Bonsai Tree Care

Welcome to the exciting world of Bonsai. The art of creating these miniature delights is alive, well and thriving! Bonsai literally means, “To grow in a tray”, hence the art of Bonsai focuses on keeping Bonsai plants from growing too large.

It doesn’t take a great deal of skill to become a Bonsai artist, just a lot of patience, perseverance and the ability to learn from your mistakes. And you will make mistakes, believe me, but its all part of the learning process, so don’t be intimidated by it. It will also help your efforts if you practice the art often. The more you practice, the better you will get at growing, shaping and caring for your Bonsai plants. Nothing will help you gain experience faster than good old-fashioned practice!

Once you gain a little knowledge and background understanding the process of creating Bonsai plants, you’ll realize that it is not as difficult as it first seemed. Once you learn how to keep a Bonsai tree alive in a small container, how to use the various tools needed for their care, and the characteristics of the individual trees used in Bonsai plantings, the rest is easy (with practice of course).

Through this blog, I will explore the history of the Bonsai tree, how to start a Bonsai tree from seeds, the tools needed to successfully create and maintain Bonsai plants, the correct elements to use i.e. pots, soil, etc. I will also discuss how to maintain both indoor and outdoor Bonsai plants. Basically, I researched and accumulated all the necessary information to make growing and caring for your Bonsai as easy as possible. I hope that you find this blog on Bonsai care a useful guide that you will turn to again and again as you take on the challenge of growing your own Bonsai. I am sure that you will find everything that you need within these pages to help you understand all you need to know about growing and maintaining them successfully. To your Bonsai success!

Bonsai Tree Care