What is Bonsai?

Are you a plant lover looking for a new hobby? Try bonsai!


Photo Credit: Flickr, Clif1066

Bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) is a Japanese horticultural art form of training full size woody plants in containers to look miniature. The name bonsai comes from two Japanese words, “bon” for dish or thin bowl and “sai” for a tree or plant. Thus, the name “bonsai” means “a tree planted in a shallow container.”

The art of bonsai is thousands of years old and was once an practice for the wealthy, but it is now a popular hobby for people of all backgrounds in Japan and around the world. Bonsai is a wonderful alternative to growing houseplants or flowers in a pot because it gives plant enthusiasts an opportunity to be creative, shaping the trees into beautiful, visually stunning art forms.

art of bonsai

Photo Credit: Flickr, OpenEye

Contrary to what some people might think, bonsai aren’t special dwarf hybrids. Bonsai can be started from seeds, cuttings, or young trees of regular species. It can be created from just about any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub. Popular types of trees used in bonsai include pine, juniper, maple, quince and cherry.

For the most part, bonsai trees are kept outdoors, as most species are temperate climate plants and require a period of dormancy. The trees are kept small by pruning branches and roots, leaf trimming, periodic re-potting, and pinching off new growth. Like topiary, bonsai trees can be trained into desired shapes and forms by wiring the branches. Heights of bonsai plants range from about a few inches tall to over 3 feet tall.

Bonsai Tree

Photo Credit: Flickr, OpenEye

There are many different styles of bonsai. Common ones include: formal, slant, cascade, and forest. The formal style features a straight trunk, while a slanted trees sways to one side. In cascade, the tree grows downwards to one side, looking like a tree at the edge of a cliff. A forest bonsai would have multiple trees growing in the same pot to mimic a forest.

Given the proper care and conditions, a bonsai plant can outlive a full size tree of the same species! They can live for hundreds of years, with more mature trees being highly prized and valued. Unlike trees growing in the wild, small trees grown in containers will require root pruning, as the roots systems are confined to a small space. Bonsai is usually planted in special bonsai soil, as regular soil can cause wet feet, which can lead to root rot. The trees need to be watered regularly and looked after on a daily basis. Every species will have different requirements, so it’s important to do your research on how to take care of your bonsai plant.

If you have the time and the patience, bonsai is definitely a rewarding hobby. Along with being a conversation starter, bonsai plants will bring beauty, joy and life to your home. As a beginner, it’s best to start with a tree native to your area, as they will be easier to grow and keep alive.

About Connor Lowry

I love flowers! I enjoy writing about them as well as gardening. Mostly I love finding new and unique flower gardening ideas I encourage you to post regularly on this blog, and send in guest blogs or ideas for new blogs as well. New and exciting blogs are always welcome I intend to post a lot of interesting facts and fun stuff about flowers, as well as info on many varieties of flowers.
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One Response to What is Bonsai?

  1. Pingback: Basic Tips and Tricks to Grow Bonsai at Home | Classi Blogger

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