Bonsai Basics

The word “Bon-sai” is a Japanese term which, literally translated, means “planted in a container”. A bonsai tree is a grown in container styled to look like a tree in the wild. Cultivating bonsai, therefore, is an art. The art is a good illustration of the respect Japanese have for living things and an expression of their sense of what is beautiful.

The art is far more difficult compared to growing potted plants and demands greater commitment, both physical as well as emotional.

How to select a pre-bonsai?

• Go for plant species with a longer lifespan

• Select resident species, commonly found in your climate

• Look for a healthy plant

• Trunk should have good tapering from bottom to top

• Select a plant with curvy trunk line. The “S” shaped trunks are considered ideal

• Select a plant with as thick a trunk as possible. However, give priority to tapering-curve-movement of the trunk as against its thickness

• Select a plant with more branches

• Grafting marks should not be obviously visible on the trunk

Characteristics of good bonsai soil

• Enough porosity to hold air for the roots

• Ability to retain moisture for one day and not more

• Ability to hold nutrients for the plant for a long time

• Good drainage so the excess water can easily drain out while watering

• The texture of the soil should be coarse so it helps the drainage

• Well-rotten cow dung manure or leaf-mould compost should be a part of the soil mix

• Mulching to insulate the soil

• Enough porosity to hold air for the roots

• Don’t press the plant after initial watering

• Check and remove all the air pockets

• Position of the plant should be slightly off-centre in the pot

• Potting and repotting time shall be selected based on species and palnt maturity