A Japanese word used to describe a tree or shrub
planted in a shallow container and trained to resemble
a full-sized tree. The goal of a bonsai grower is an
idealized recreation of nature, based on a careful
study of the way trees grow in the wild.
Means a shallow container or tray.
Means plant or planting.
In both nature and bonsai, an interesting root
formation exposed above the soil gives a sense
of maturity and stability. Whereas a young tree's
roots are typically concealed beneath the ground.
Ideally, roots should extent in all directions from
the trunk, but need not be evenly spaced or arranged
symmetrically, as long as there is a good visual
Bonsai trees may have straight, curved, angled, or
divided trunks, just as trees in the wild do. But
the most important trunk feature is a good taper.
With the diameter diameter diminishing smoothly
towards the top.
Branches form the structure of a tree's silhouette.
Their arrangement as they emerge from a bonsai trunk
should be well balanced in harmony with the general
character of the tree, and visually complementing
the trunk line. You can adjust the outline and the
structure by pruning and wiring.
A spiral staircase is a good model for the ideal
arrangement of branches, creating a balanced, but
not necessarily symmetrical, pattern around and up
The first branche should be roughly one third up the
trunk, with the heaviest branches at lower levels.
Branches are usually thicker near the trunk and taper
along their length.
Bonsai trees are normally pruned to an approximately
conical spread, with the most delicate twigs at the
BALANCE AND HARMONY
Careful training of the shape and structure of a tree,
and deailed consideration of the relationship between
it and its container are necessary to create a well
balanced design. Branches at the apex are pruned more
THE FRONT VIEW
Bonsai are always designed with a FRONT view, or
preferred viewing angle, even though they can be
viewed from all sides. Bonsai should be viewed
with eye level corresponding to a point about
halfway up the trunk. It should highlight the
most attractive branch arrangement, allowing
you to LOOK into the tree while creating a
pleasant silhouette. The front view should let
you see the most pleasing part of the roots,
and the most graceful angle and best taper of
Bonsai is not about making trees small, the tree
is smaller than in nature mainly to make it more
convenient to work on. Most bonsai fall within a
middle range of 6in(15cm) to 2ft(60cm), because
very large or very small specimens present special
SENSE OF SCALE
Whatever size your bonsai, its scale must create
a realistic impression. Small-leaved trees are
more adaptable in terms of scale.
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THE HEIGHT OF DISPLAY
The level for a bonsai is usally a compromise between
a practical height for easy maintenance, and the best
viewing position(at eye level). Usually bonsai are
arranged on benches at tabletop heigh, or on shelves.
NEVER place a bonsai so that you have to look down on
it, keep them off the ground.
CONTRAST OF HEIGHTS IN DISPLAY
By displaying your bonsai at varying heights against a
dark fence for greater impact.
DISPLAYING BONSAI INDOORS
Keep it away from heat sources such as an open fire or
a radiator. The best background is a plain, pale wall,
in Japan, the traditional space was a TOKONOMA alcove.
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HOW TO WATER
Water your bonsai in the evening after sunset.
The moisture will then be retained in the soil
and available to the roots all night and into
the next morning. Water from above, with a fine
More bonsai die from unsatisfactory watering than
from any other problem. Their roots dry out much
more quickly in their shallow pots than if they
were planted in open ground.
CHECK EACH PLANT FOR EACH
TYPE OF FERTILIZER.
It is essential to feed your bonsai for good
growth, if you do not, they may not die, but
but will not flourish. From spring to fall, it
is best to apply a general balanced fertilizer.
In the fall, it is advisable to switch to a
fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorus, but
low in nitrogen, because it is then that the trees
growth rate slows and they start to become dormant.
GRANULES work best, because they take time to break
down, and each time it rains or you water you feed
When bonsai plants become pot-bound you will need to
prune the roots, not change the pot. Most bonsai pots
are chosen to complement the trees.You prune the roots
and add fresh potting soil to your pot.
BE SURE TO ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR POT.
BASIC SOIL MIX:
One part loam, two parts sphagnum peat moss,
two parts granite grit.
FREE-DRAINING SOIL MIX:
One part loam, one part sphagnum peat moss,
three parts granite grit.
LIME-FREE SOIL MIX
One part loam, three parts sphagnum peat moss,
one part granite grit.
The aim of root pruning, is to trim the roots into
a flat root system that will fit comfortably back
into the pot. This is usually done in spring.
Growing trees or shrubs from seed can take you
years. It will take you several years to get a
plant suitable for training into bonsai.
If you choose plants native to your area you
will find lots of local help.
Be sure to do your research on pests
and diseases for your bonsai. It is
vital to place your bonsai in a location
that gives them a suitable climate, light
and humidity levels. This should also
provide a good point of view and a
sufficient room for you to work on
Your bonsai is not a house plant. If
you bring one indoors, it should be
for a day or so. How much care your
your bonsai needs varies with each
species. Do your homework, to give
each plant the care it needs to
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Bonsai is often described as
The two main methods of
creating a bonsai,
To shape the tree by pruning
away unnecessary branches and
and twigs. This is done to
reveal the basic design, and
refine the surface detail.
You start the plant from seed
or cutting, and over time you
develop it into the shape you
want for your final design.
Most bonsai are made from a
combination of the two methods.
Add pruning and wiring to the
process for the best results.
The period of time it takes
for your bonsai, depends on
your tree. Since with each
type of tree, you must think
of the rate it grows, and
age it will reach. You can
take up to ten years to get
a basic shape.
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AMERICAN BONSAI SOCIETY
BONSAI CLUB INTERNATIONAL
INTERNET BONSAI CLUB
THE NATIONAL BONSAI FOUNDATION
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