Bonsai trees are created for expression and meaning, not merely for ornamental purposes in the true practice of bonsai. The word "bon" refers to a shallow dish and the word "sai" means planting or growing. The art of Bonsai has been practiced since the 6th century beginning in China and spreading to Japan. The oldest living specimen is known to be over 500 years old. The art of creating Bonsai trees has now become popular worldwide with sales of tools, books and trees available almost everywhere.
What are Bonsai Trees?
Bonsai trees are miniature trees carefully grown and pruned both at the tops and the roots. They are not grown from seeds, but may be grafted or from small trees that have begun growing in nature. The trees are carefully wired and shaped with careful attention to never allowing the wires to scar or show on the trees. They may be developed from many varieties of trees both deciduous and evergreens. Choosing trees with naturally small needles and leaves is common, although by stunting the tree they will remain smaller. The trees are not dwarf trees rather they are trees that had the potential to become full size but have been stunted by being kept in small containers and careful pruning.
Deadwood Bonsai trees are created by intermingling the tree with dead wood or leaving wood that has died on the tree. It must be preserved and cared for so as to not affect the living tree. Some will be on the trunk or branches of the trees while others feature dead wood sticking from the tops of the trees.
Caring for Bonsai Trees
Caring for Bonsai trees is not as easy as it may appear. By the time the trees are sold they have already been pruned and are considered to be basically mature. They will need pruning though throughout their lifetime. The trees are generally potted in a soil moisture which allows for drainage yet will water the trees adequately. The Bonsai trees are not actually meant to live indoors however in harsh climates the roots may freeze due to the size of the pot they are in. Adequate sunlight and moisture are a must and they should be placed outside in the summer months and perhaps in a cool area in the winter. Instructions for care should be included with the tree.
The Bonsai trees may require repotting, ideally with a prepared specialty soil which includes gravel. The specialty tools required for proper care of a Bonsai tree will include shears, benders, clamps, jacks, wrappers, wire, knives and saws. Braces may be required when wiring to change the direction of limbs and trunks. Leaves may require special pruning as well.
Choosing a Bonsai Tree
Choosing a Bonsai tree can be difficult as they are available in many species and each is a unique shape and organism. Sequoia's, oaks, junipers, firs and pines are but a few of the many types of tree available. Ensuring a space with light, moisture and the correct temperature range will make a difference in choosing a deciduous or evergreen tree.
Bonsai trees are available at many garden stores as well as occasionally at discount chains and even flea markets. Choosing a tree online from a well established company may well be a wiser choice than from a place offering no background experience. Tools should be purchased also to continue the care of the tree after it is home. Traditionally the caring of the tree as well as understanding the aspects that would have created it and the visual appeal are all very important. Bonsai trees are best displayed at an angle that gives a side view of the tree including the trunk.
Young juniper Bonsai trees are available online beginning at 30 dollars, while flowering Bonsai trees begin at the same price and go up to 100 dollars. Specialty Bonsai trees that are considered one of a kind sell in a price range beginning at 200 dollars and up into the thousands. Sequoia and oaks are available although the juniper is one of the most widely available.
Bonsai trees may be sold individually or in planted groupings with two or more trees, even with several included to resemble a miniature forest. They should be chosen very carefully and with the knowledge that they will require care to maintain their shape and character. Actual care of a Bonsai tree will not be very time consuming, while being able to study and understand their growth and character will be immensely rewarding.