The rewarding hobby of bonsai growing

by Nick Osten

Some people say that growing bonsai trees is hard – but at least history proves people have been doing it successfully for many years! It was first conceived of by the Chinese, and as so often happens, the Japanese came along and developed it afterwards. It means “tree in a pot”, and it simply involves ‘dwarfing’ the tree by constantly pruning the roots and branches.

You shape the tree at a very young age by pruning and trimming above and below the soil level. Some of the trees can be as small as two inches while others can grow up to two feet tall.

Getting started

First of all, choose the kind of bonsai you want to grow. There are many to choose from, whether you go for cutting or seed is up to you. Make sure that you have a variety with naturally small leaves.

Find a shallow pot and ensure that it is not glazed on the inside – this could prevent the tree from breathing. Check that you have sufficient drainage.

Put the tree first of all into a large pot so that it gains strength, and when it has matured enough, you can put it into the shallow pot.

The soil is especially important for bonsai trees – you need special bonsai soil that can be bought from any good garden centre, and you need to buy feed that includes nitrogen and phosphoric acid for the autumn. If your garden centre cannot supply this, go online and search for it.

Consider how humid the environment is where you place the bonsai. You could place it in the kitchen or stimulate the humidity by placing your shallow pot in a shallow tray of water and allowing that to evaporate gently.

In the end, though, the bonsai is your creation – however you choose to decorate it and however you choose to prune it, it is a reflection of the hard work that you have (or have not) put in. While buying bonsai trees can prove expensive, growing your own can prove a rewarding and inexpensive hobby.

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