Learn How to Make and Care for Bonsai Trees

Are you fascinated by bonsai trees? We'll tell you all about their history and how you can make and care for them in this article!
Learn How to Make and Care for Bonsai Trees

Last update: 19 July, 2021

The trend of bonsai trees comes from the Far East. The technique, originally from China, was adopted and renamed by the inhabitants of Japan, which is where they got the name we know today.

The word bon-sai, an interpretation of Japanese ideograms, is usually translated as ‘planted in a small pot.’ This concept refers to miniature trees that can be kept in shallow pots and the comfort of our homes by applying the appropriate techniques to stunt their growth.

History of the bonsai

According to the article published by the magazine Ciencias de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the art of bonsai arose in ancient China, where it was called punsai, penjing or pensai.

Taoist monks who lived isolated in monasteries, in need of medicinal plants and to economize efforts, began to transplant whole trees into small containers. These trees decreased in size in the process. At the same time, they sought to imitate the shapes of the animals of Chinese culture in the branches and trunks of the new little trees, such as birds, leopards, and dragons.

Chinese missionaries, between the 10th and 11th centuries, exported the technique to Japan. They believed that the cultivation and care of these small trees could bring them closer to the gods. The Japanese adopted the technique, refined it, and renamed it.

In the Western world, bonsai trees made their debut in the city of London. This happened at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, held during the Victorian era in 1851. In addition, the first European treatise dealing with the subject was published in the bulletin of the Botanical Society of France and written by J. Vallot in 1889.

What plants can I use to make bonsai trees?

Although there aren’t any severe restrictions when choosing the plants to create bonsai trees, most recommend using varieties of plants that can reach great heights, with a perennial trunk covered by a solid bark. Here are some recommendations.

Bonsai tree in a pot
You can use bonsai trees to create garden landscapes that represent compressed spaces.

Conifers

Today, bonsai created from this type of plant is among the most admired at major exhibitions of the genus. Moreover, people have been using conifers to produce bonsai trees for centuries. This is perhaps because it’s one of the oldest types of plants on the planet that has survived to the present day.

Shrubs

Shrubs are ideal plants for the generation of bonsai trees because they usually have ornamental flowers and leaves. In addition, most of them have small leaves and are very easy to control growth.

Climbers

The climbing plants that should be used to apply this technique are those with a woody trunk. However, you should prune them regularly to allow them to condense their energy in thickening their trunk.

Trees

Finally, you can use several species of trees to produce bonsai. Trees are ideal for this technique because most of them tolerate pruning well and have woody trunks.

However, it’s important to know that not all of them are suitable. Some of the most recommended for bonsai are elms, maples, and small-leaf ficus.

How can I make a bonsai tree?

The first decision you should make, if you’re looking to make bonsai trees, is whether to place them in your home garden or indoors.

These little trees look very nice indoors if they’re a part of the decoration. However, it’s important to remember that these are needy plants that tend to grow and thrive better outdoors.

Once you have made the above decision, you’ll need pots with drains, water, natural sunlight, and, of course, gigantic amounts of love for your plants.

How long does it take to produce bonsai trees?

One of the main fun of taking care of bonsai trees is to prune them frequently. You must do this to give them the shape you want.

This process can take several years, so it’s essential to arm yourself with lots of patience!

Materials

As we’ve already mentioned, to make bonsai trees like a professional, it’s essential to pay attention to the kind of pot in which the tree will be planted and the quality of the soil. Of course, everything is subject to the type of tree or plant you’ve chosen.

Let’s look at the following recommendations:

  • Choosing the tree to make bonsai: There are variety of kinds of trees that you can choose to make bonsai trees. They can be ficus, maples, or olive trees. The care you’ll have to give each plant will depend on the type you chose.
  • Pots: To supremely limit the growth of the tree’s roots, you should choose a pot that has holes underneath. In addition, it’s advisable to choose a pot that is wide and shallow.
  • Soil quality: The soil should be granular, maintain good drainage, and not be too condensed. Otherwise, it could mean the death of the bonsai trees.

Step by step on how to create bonsai trees

With the recipe provided below, you’ll generate a very prosperous micro garden of bonsai trees. It’ll be the envy of the neighborhood and all your friends. Remember that, to suppress growth, you’ll have to use techniques. These techniques are pruning, a minimum supply of fertilizer, and the distinction and suppression of the shoots.

  1. Adapt the pot: You should place a grid or light netting over the drainage holes to prevent excess water from draining out of the pot and distilling the soil with it.
  2. Clean and condition the roots: With a brush, you should remove all traces of the original soil from the roots of the tree, since it isn’t the same that we will use to make the bonsai trees. However, you might have to section some roots to allow the plant to enter more comfortably.
  3. Plant the tree: Finally, place the plant in the pot you’ve prepared and add the quality granulated soil, be careful to not make it too clumpy.
A small bonsai tree
The bonsai technique is millenary and requires patience for its application at home.

Bonsai trees in visual art

In conclusion, there’s no doubt that the generation and care of bonsai trees is an art in itself. In addition, this is demonstrated in the article published in Agro Productividad magazine. Its author assures that these trees express beauty and majesty.

He also raises the bar for the art of bonsai trees. He mentions that one way to make it more interesting is by creating miniature landscapes, taking the tree in question as a starting point. Among the landscaping options are mountain ranges, an overhanging cliff, or rocks.

So what are you waiting for? Try your hand at bonsais!

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  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.  Ciencias, Núm. 101. Castilla-Valdés, Yanelis. La Gardenia: características, usos, plagas y enfermedades y aspectos básicos de su cultivo.
  • Agro Productividad, Núm. 2, Vol. 2. Trujillo-Sánchez, E. El bonsái: arte milenario. México 2018.