A Simple guide for bonsai beginners – try your own.


A simple guide for bonsai beginners. You too can try it and become a bonsai master easily.

Really the wonderful art from of bonsai was originated in China about 2000 years ago. Also, there are evidences for the existence of bonsai in Japan during the 12th century. Gradually it began to spread to different parts of the world, including India.

Usually, the plants adapted to a particular climate, are suitable for making bonsai in that place. Likewise, in India also we can use a lot of beautiful plants for this.
If you are passionate about gardening, Bonsai is the right choice for you.

My Bonsai experience.

From my experience, I can say that you will become more attached to a bonsai, than to any other plants in your garden.

Truly, I never saw a live bonsai plant before starting ours, a few years ago. Our first plant was the sapling of a banyan tree, that we collected from the old compound wall of a temple.
The pic below shows how the plant looks like now.

Ficus benghalensis ( the Banyan tree ) bonsai.

As a beginner, always try to select saplings of native plants. Because plants that thrive in a particular place or climate, can do better at different stages of bonsai training. For example, tropical trees like Tamarind, Ficus, Cassia fistula, Jade tree etc. are ideal in places like India.

Contents

Potting medium.

Before starting, let us see how to prepare a potting medium that we can use commonly at different stages.

Surely you can prepare the medium in the following ratio.

IngredientPercent
River sand40%
Garden soil30%
Vermi compost ( or any other organic fertilizer)20%
Peat moss10%

If necessary, make slight variations to this combination according to the nature of your plant. For example succulents like the Jade plant, Adenium etc. need a medium which is more sandy, for better drainage.

Propagation

From stem cuttings

Saplings of Jade tree from stem cuttings.

We can use stem cuttings for the propagation of a lot of bonsai trees. For example different species of ficus, the Fukien tea tree, Schefflera, Jade etc.

For this, collect mature stem cuttings of about ten inches, from healthy mother plants. Dip the lower tip of the stem in a rooting hormone. Then carefully plant it about two inches deep in an ordinary terracotta pot filled 3/4 with potting medium.

Keep the pot in shade for a few days and water regularly. Gradually move it to indirect sunlight when new leaves begin to sprout. Let the plant grow as such in the same pot for one or two years.

Also add any organic liquid fertilizer diluted with water, at intervals of one or two months.

Propagation from seeds

Seedlings of Adenium plant

Definitely we can use seeds for propagation of plants like Tamarind tree, Adenium etc. for making bonsai. Never forget to use good quality seeds from mature ripe pods for this.

It is better to soak the seeds overnight to make the coats soft. Then sow the seeds about half inch deep in a pot filled with medium. Keep the pot in shade free from pests or ants, and water regularly.

Usually the seeds germinate within two or three weeks. When the seedlings grow upto a height of about six to ten inches, transfer each one carefully to separate pots. You can use the potting medium in the same ratio as stated above.

Allow the plant to grow in the same pot, till you start training your bonsai.

Propagation through saplings, directly from sellers.

For example, the sapling of the Ficus jinseng bonsai in the pic below, was bought directly from the nursery.

Ficus ginseng bonsai

Always Remember that the growth rates of plants are based on different factors. Especially like the nature of the plant, climate, the way we care it etc.

Pruning – with the simple guide for bonsai beginners you can do pruning.

Pruning is the process through which you can  remove the unnecessary branches. Before you start pruning, make sure that there are enough branches for your plant. Use a sterilized sharp knife or pruning shears for this. Applying some kind of fungicide on the wound, can prevent decaying of the stem.
Now, it is the time to apply your own artistic creativity for developing the plant.  You must have an idea about the final appearance of your bonsai. Hence observe your plant carefully before removing the branches.
Choose the right bonsai style that suits fine for your plant

Wiring

Using soft and flexible aluminium or copper wires, you can twist the branches of your plant to particular directions. For this, wind the wire gently on the branches and slowly bend it.
You should take care against breaking the branches while bending. Also avoid winding the wire too tightly, because it can leave marks on the stem. Keep your plant in this stage carefully, and water regularly. Also feed the plant occasionally with diluted liquid organic fertilizer.
After a few months, your bonsai will become ready to transfer to an original bonsai pot.

Wiring a Ficus benjamina bonsai.

Re potting – with the simple guide for bonsai beginners.

For re potting, first take the plant out of the pot carefully along with the soil. Then remove the soil and prune 2/3 of the roots using a sharp knife or pruning shears.

Root pruning of a Schefflera bonsai.

Meanwhile prepare the bonsai pot for replanting your bonsai.  You can use the same wire to hold the plant tight in the pot.

Original bonsai pot ready to replant.

Final Steps:

  • Transfer the plant to the bonsai pot and tie the trunk tightly with the wire through the holes of the pot.
  • After that, fill 3/4 of the pot with the potting medium.
  • Keep the pot in shade for a few days, and gradually move to partial sunlight.

Your favourite bonsai is ready and you can keep it anywhere in your garden.