Bonsai is an art which entails growing small trees that look like full grown mature trees. They are grown just for the enjoyment and beauty of the experience. Prior to World War II there was not a great deal of information available in the West about this art form, but shortly after it became widely available and exhibitions are still common. Literature published in English regarding bonsai trees was also not available initially, but became much easier to locate.
The history of the bonsai is directly linked to the Chinese penjing which means tray scenery. Penjing is divided into three specific categories including trees, landscape and water and land. The Japanese pronounce bonsai as penzai which comes from penjing.
As an indoor plant it is more likely to find tropical and subtropical types, while most are grown outdoors. In some ways it may be like a house plant, but it needs additional care and more water. The difference between the inside and outside bonsai is that indoors it can maintain leaves all year, however, it will never develop moss that a lot of growers desire.
Seeds are very seldom used to grow these trees and those that are partially grown are preferred. A partially developed plant is known as mature stock and it gives the desired aged appearance necessary. One very important aspect is to choose the type of tree that will grow well in the particular surroundings it is to be placed in.
There are a couple of different techniques used for collecting the mature stock. One technique is known as cutting and these are placed in what is called a medium for development until the roots can grow. The other technique is layering and allows the roots to develop next to the live branch and it is then removed.
A good option especially for the beginner may be nursery stock which can provide good starting time of a couple seasons. There are things to consider with nursery stock; the shape may be predefined and difficult to alter which will limit the trunk direction. An advantage is that the tree can be worked with right away.
There are special tools available to assist with the care of the tree. Watering will most likely be a constant task as most specimens require full-time moisture. It is also important not to over water or there is a chance of causing root rot. Repotting will also be frequent until the final planting. It encourages new growth of roots and keeps them from becoming bound to one pot.
Many different techniques are used when developing a bonsai which include pruning, trimming, clamping, wiring, defoliation, deadwood and grafting. Any of these techniques is acceptable, but particular aesthetic characteristics need to be considered to comply with tradition. There are some principles that are key including miniaturization, asymmetry, proportion among elements, expression of wabi or sabi and no trace of artist. With developing technique and patience it can be possible for anyone to experience the tranquility of caring for bonsai trees at home.
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