Bonsai tree care: The art of bonsai is the growing and training of a plant to a miniature form having a natural look of old age. Although the age old bonsai culture originated in China, it Is generally considered to be a Japanese art. The bonsai thrives best in a sunny location and fresh air. If a bonsai is to be kept indoors it should be placed near a window where it may receive full sunshine.
Styles of Bonsai Plant:
There are, many styles of bonsai, such as formal upright, informal upright , slanting, semi-cascade, cascade, wind-swept, broom, root-over-rock, clinging to a rock, group planting of more than one style and a few others. The tree in the formal upright style, has a straight tapering trunk while in the informal upright, the trunk is not straight and the top is bent slightly to the front. In the slanting style, the trunk of the tree is slanting and the lowest branch spreads in the opposite direction of the slant with the top slightly bent forward.
The tree trunk in the semi-cascade style grows upwards for a short distance and then falls over the side of the pot or container but above its bottom. The cascade style is almost similar to semi-cascade except that in this case the tree trunk reaches below the level of the pot. When all the branches of the tree grow from one side only, as if these were swept by wind, the style is known as wind-swept.
In the broom style all the branches grow almost from the same place. Sometimes the tree is planted on a rock with the roots extending down into the soil or roots are attached or clasped to the rock in the root-over-rock and clinging-to-a-rock styles of bonsai respectively.
The bonsai plants are grown from seeds, cutting, layering by grafting. It takes a longer time to propagate a bonsai from seeds than by Other methods. A few species, like Pine and Juniper are grown from seeds. Ficus species, pomegranate, mulberry and bougainvillea may be Propagated from cuttings. Layering is a useful method for raising plants Bougainvillea, Petrea , volubilis, ixora, Jasmine and pomegranate. Sometimes grafting is used to propagate mango and citrus.
The most convenient method is to start a bonsai from a small plant obtained from nursery. Another method is to bring a natural dwarf and stunted plant for making a bonsai from a rocky area where it may be growing wild.
Time of planting:
The bonsai plant are generally stared in February to march or July-Aug. However, the best time it is before the new buds open. The temperate species like cherry, peach and plum the new planted in spring (Feb-Much) before Plant. Potting of bonsai should the new leaves plum are er or in severe hot appear on the not be done in hot months.
Potting and Repotting:
For starting a bonsai from the natural stunted plant or from a dwarf plant obtained from a nursery, it is necessary to prune the roots. Generally one-third of the roots is cut off and the root also may be pruned if there is an abundant growth of of fibrous lateral an the tap roots. The unnecessary branches are remove before planting. The basic principle in bonsai culture is to restrict and slow down the growth of the plant by selective pruning of roots and branches. However, at the same time, it is necessary to provide just adequate but balanced nutrition and regulated watering for proper and healthy but slow balanced healthy but w growth of the bonsai.
Before potting the plant one must decide the style of bonsai to be followed. The method of planting in the pot or container and the training of the plant will depend upon the style of bonsai.
The old bonsai requires reporting after 2 or 3 years depending upon the plant species and its growth. The reporting is done in the same way as the potting.
After planting, the plant is trained according to the style of bonsai. The branches or stem can be bent in the desired direction and form with the help of a copper wire which is removed once the required shape is formed. Sometimes polythene tape can also be used for the purpose.
Pruning and pinching:
The new growth is pinched once or twice and the branches are pruned sometimes to maintain the shape of the tree.
Pot or container:
The pots and containers used for bonsai vary in material shape and size small ceramic or terracotta pots and container square, rectangular oval 0r round shape are the best for bonsai. Sometimes small cement container are also utilize for this purpose but this are not convent to handle because of their heavy weight. The choice of the shape and colour of the container depends upon the style and type of plant used for bonsai .
Usually terracotta and light colours are preferable. The rectangular and oval shaped container are ideal for most of the bonsai style. The round or square container is suitable for growing a single plant in this center unlike the other shape in which the plant is placed on one side of the container.
Generally the planting medium in the pot or container consist of am mixture of two parts of loam soi
Several plant species are suitable for bonsai. The most commonly used species include Ficus F. benghalensis, F. religiosa. F. benjamtna. F. mtcmoarpaJ. Mulbeny (Moms). Malpighia coccigera, pomegranate (Punica granatum). pine (Pinus roxburghii). Juniper (Juniperus prostrata). bottlebrush (Callistemon lanceoletus), willow (Salix sp). bougainvillea (varieties Sanderiana. Lady Mary Baring. Louise Wathen. Mrs H.C. Buck etc.), Duranta, Bamboo, Chinese orange or Hazara and many other trees and shrubs. A few creepers like honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica), Petrea volubilis and star jasmine (Trachelospemum jasmtnotdes) are also suitable for bonsai.
A mixture of NPK or liquid manure prepared with oilcake (neem or mustard) may be applied once a week after about a month of potting but not during the active growth or dormant stage of the plant. The application of bonemeal or superphosphate is useful in flowering while for fruiting add a little potash also to the potting medium
Regular and judicious watering is required but over watering and water logging should be avoided. Watering is beneficial at the time of flowering but not in bougainvillea as frequent watering results in shedding of flowers. Conifers like pine and juniper require less water other than species.
The soil in the pot should be hoed lightly when it becomes hard. Frequent weeding, control of diseases and insect pests by pesticides, pinching, pruning whenever required, regular watering, balanced nutrition and providing adequate sunlight are the necessary after-care of bonsai. Repotting of old bonsai after every 2-3 years is also helpful in proper maintenance of the bonsai