If you’ve ever seen a Bonsai, you’ll know that people love to grow these tiny trees as a hobby or as a gift for their friends and family. You’ve probably wondered how people are able to manipulate the branches into aesthetically appealing shapes and designs. It won’t happen overnight, but you can create the Bonsai of your dreams with a few simple tricks.
Pruning is the technique plant enthusiasts use to keep their Bonsai tree growing strong and healthy. It involves the removal of smaller, weaker leaves to help your tree produces larger, healthier vegetation. On any plant, the leaves will grow toward the top where they can reach the most sunlight. After you’ve pruned it a few times, your tree will begin to grow in the direction in which it is able to create the most vegetation. Essentially, it will adapt to growing in the way that you desire.
The next step in shaping your tree involves the physical bending of your Bonsai with wire. However, you can’t just use any type of metal wiring. The best options are anodized aluminum or annealed copper in the 1mm, 1.5mm, 2.5mm, or 4mm varieties work just fine. Remember, the thicker the wire, the stronger the hold. Once you have a clear idea of how you want your Bonsai to be shaped, begin adding wire. Starting from the trunk, add wire to the branches that represent your main focus; then move onto your inferior branches. Once you’ve placed the wire on the designated limbs, you may then begin to gently shape them with your fingers while the wire provides support. Do so slowly, bending the branches too quickly can cause splitting and will damage your tree. Afterward, it is usually recommended to add a second set of wires for a stronger hold.
As your Bonsai tree grows, the roots will grow along with it. Once you start to notice the taproot, or main root of your tree is a healthy size, you’ll need to prune the smaller ones. This is a task that should be executed carefully; if you damage the roots or prune before they’re ready, you risk killing your entire tree. Only cut the roots that appear to be weaker and smaller, and avoid trimming the taproot until your Bonsai tree has grown significantly.
Repotting can be a bit messy, so make sure you lay out newspaper or perform this task outside. To remove your plant from the pot, turn it upside down and place your hand over the soil, spreading your fingers out so that the trunk is between them. With the opposite hand, firmly pat the bottom of the pot to loosen up the dirt. Your Bonsai tree should easily slide out with the root ball attached; don’t yank or pull at the trunk as it could damage the taproot. Take your empty pot and place your growing Bonsai inside. Afterward you can start adding more soil around the tree.
If your tree appears to be unhappy after you’ve taken the necessary steps to prune, wire, and replant, you may need to take a step back and look at the tree’s basic needs. Is it receiving enough sunlight and water? Are there enough nutrients in the soil? Even though it’s small, a tree is still a tree and needs to be cared for accordingly. Bonsai trees require at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day, and should be watered as soon as the topsoil appears dry.
The Chokkan remains shooting up and resembles an actual miniature tree, while the Moyohgi is slightly tilted. Both are symmetrical in the amount of roots and foliage present on your tree. The Shakan on the other hand, has an upright trunk with the majority of the roots designated to one side and branches with foliage set to the opposite side. The Bujingi Bonsai has branches on both sides, and can be twisted in the trunk. Once you’ve perfected your Bonsai, you can put it on display at home or gift it to your loved ones!