The Beginner's Guide to Bonsai
Bonsai is an ancient Japanese art of cultivating miniature trees and is not only a horticultural practice but also a form of living art. Bonsai involves carefully planting and shaping a tree to create a small, realistic representation of a mature tree.
Here are some tips for creating your own Bonsai from scratch.
Step 1: Select the Right Tree
Some common species include pine, maple, juniper, and Ficus. One of the more 'beginner friendly' ones is the Buddha's Belly Ficus (Jatropha podagrica), so called for its pot belly-like trunk. It is tolerant of most Australian climates and requires very little care.
Step 2: Choosing the right pot
Bonsai pots are typically shallow and have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. It must be large enough for the roots to grow but not too large that it overwhelms the tree's scale.
Step 3: Preparing the Tree for Planting
Once the tree has been removed from the nursery pot, be mindful not to damage the roots. Gently loosen the soil around the roots with your fingers and trim any long or damaged roots to encourage a more compact root system.
Step 4: You will need bonsai soil or a well-draining potting mix
The soil must be placed at the bottom of the pot and around the roots. Gently press the soil down to remove any air pockets but be careful not to bury the trunk too deeply. Once the tree is securely planted, water it thoroughly to help settle the soil and promote root growth.
Step 5: Wire your Bonsai
You can do this by gently wrapping anodized aluminium or annealed copper wire around the branches and bending them into the desired position. Over time the tree will grow in the direction you have shaped. You must prune away any branches, excess leaves, and larger roots to maintain the tree's miniature look and prevent it from outgrowing its pot.
Consider incorporating worn pebbles and Sphagnum Moss around the trunk to give the all-over design a landscaped and aged appearance as is traditional. However you decide to design your Bonsai, these techniques require patience, skill, and an understanding of the tree's growth patterns and characteristics that may take years to learn but will be well worth the effort.