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 Tips on Growing a Bonsai Tree

 By Erik A. Olsen

The word, Bonsai means “tree in a pot”, one that someone has taken time to style into a pleasing form through the artist’s eyes, a tree that gives its beholder a sense of age, a connection between heaven and earth, and a piece of themselves. To own a bonsai can be very enjoyable but to grow one successfully, you need to have a solid understanding of each step. Therefore, we have provided you with some helpful tips on growing a bonsai so you will have a thriving tree that will last a lifetime. One of the important concepts of bonsai is the understanding that the tree must be pruned on a regular basis for it to retain its small stature and unique style. Without pruning, it will continue to grow until it no longer looks like a bonsai. Growing a bonsai tree can vary in height from very small to a few feet tall. In fact, there is no strict height limit but the idea is that the tree be cultivated in a pot and an image of an ancient tree in nature be created.

The roots of a bonsai should be pruned annually, being careful not to dwarf it. Instead, the goal is to produce a small. Densely packed root ball that allows the tree to be planted in a small container. Without root pruning, the tree will become root-bound, losing its health. Therefore, by removing about one-third of the roots, new soil can be added to the pot to encourage the growth of new roots. Additionally, it is important that bonsai trees take advantage of natural light, wind, rain, and seasonal changes. A common misunderstanding in growing bonsai is that because it is a tree, it must be kept outdoors, allowing it to go through normal seasonal phases such as flowering, fruiting, and shedding leaves. Instead, if you have chosen to keep the tree indoors, you can but keep in mind that it will only survive for a few months, never fully thriving.

Continual indoor cultivation for an outdoor tree will nearly always result in death unless it is given a place outside to regain its health. While there are a few bonsai that will cope with indoor cultivation for short periods, those are generally tropical species that require winter protection against the cold. However, even the tropical species need outdoor conditions after the threat of frost has passed in the spring. When it comes to watering your bonsai, unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast rules, since conditions vary so widely. The best rule is that when the soil begins to dry out, water the tree thoroughly until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. The old Japanese adage is to water three times - once for the pot, once for the soil, and once for the tree, which allows the water to soak into the soil and the pot, leaving water for the tree to absorb. Probably the best tip for watering is to totally immerse the pot in water once a week to ensure top to bottom watering. Then, allow the pot and soil to soak up the maximum holding capacity, making it easier to keep them watered throughout the rest of the week.

Additionally, it is best to water early in the day, which minimizes the vulnerability to fungus, bugs, and other common plant problems. Remember that even a bonsai outdoors in the rain would still need to be watered. In this case, prop up one end of the pot just a couple inches to increase drainage. For flowering bonsai, DO NOT water the flowers since it could cause them to die almost instantly. Watering a bonsai is probably the most important aspect of growing this type of tree. Just remember that it t is a learned skill that will take time to master. A final thought is that generally with bonsai, over-watering is as bad as under-watering. The temptation for a beginner is to continually fidget with their tree, cutting pieces off here and there, continually watering, misting, or moving it around. Checking daily for water requirements and health problems is necessary, but the tree should be left alone to grow. Instead of constantly pestering the plant, enjoy looking at it.

Again, pruning it back to shape is important but every leaf that jumps out of place, does not need to be cut. To keep the tree healthy and vigorous, it must be allowed to grow freely at times. Then, repotting or major restyling at the wrong time of the year can lead to poor health. The bonsai may survive if you are lucky or it may even grow a bit but it will rarely reward you by thriving. Therefore, we hope these tips will help you in growing a bonsai tree. The bottom line is that bonsai have tremendous success at reducing stress for people who grow them. In fact, many experts believe that growing a bonsai is a spiritual experience coupled with a goal of achieving artistic perfection more than it is about gardening. One is never too young or old to start enjoying the art of bonsai.

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