Allora's Advice

Start Your Own Bonsai

Nicola Allsop . Friday, January 15, 2016 . Comments
Start Your Own Bonsai

There are five basic styles of bonsai:

  1. The first is the informal upright, where a trunk line zigzags up into the top of the tree.
  2. The second is the windswept or slanting style - basically a tree that's been blown by the wind, so the branches on one side are actually shorter than the other.
  3. The third style is the formal upright which has a straight trunk that tapers at the top.
  4. The fourth style is called the semi cascade - magine the tree is on the side of a cliff, hanging over and this doesn't exceed the pot's limitations.
  5. Finally the last style is called the full cascade - a tree that exceeds the pot limitations.

Make sure you choose the right bonsai for you to start - not all bonsai’s are the same. When selecting a species, it’s important to consider where it will be grown. One particular beginner-friendly variety of bonsai is the Juniper they respond well to pruning and other training efforts, and because they are evergreen they never lose their leaves. Non-woody plants like the Jade plant are also a good choice.

Bonsais can come in a wide variety of sizes. Full grown bonsais can be as small as 15.2cm-90cm tall depending on the variety. Larger plants require more water, soil and sunlight. Always consider the size of the plant and pot you will use, how much sunlight available and the amount of care (larger plants take longer to prune.)

Imagine what your bonsai will look like after it is pruned. Part of the fun of growing a bonsai tree is gently pruning and shaping it until it’s exactly how you want it. The most important factor in deciding which pot is to make sure the pot is large enough to allow enough soil to cover the roots. Buy a pot big enough for the trees roots, but not much bigger.

You will need to prepare it before transplanting. Ensure the tree has been pruned to the shape you desire. If you want it to grow a certain way after you re-pot it wrap some wire around the branches to gently direct their growth. You may want to reduce watering before re-potting. Dry loose soil is easier to work with compared to wet/damp soil.

Carefully remove the plant from its current pot, making sure not to break or tear its main steam. Clean the roots by brushing away any clumps of soil that are obscuring your vision so you can prune the roots. If their growth is not controlled, bonsai’s can outgrow their pots. To ensure this does not happen prune the roots when you re-pot. Ensure it has a base of fresh soil to sit on to give it the desired height. Use a soil that drains well – regular garden soil can hold too much water and may drown your bonsai. You can install mesh screens over the pots drainage holes to prevent soil erosion. Your bonsai has just undergone a somewhat traumatic process so for the next 2-3 weeks leave it in a semi-shaded are, protected from harsh wind and sunlight. Water the plant but do not fertilise until the roots have re-established themselves.

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