Which Trees are Best for Bonsai?
A long time ago, I found some books about Bonsai and I really liked the way they looked, like large trees in miniature, planted in a shallow container with moss and rocks to look natural.
So I planted some lemon seeds to try it. That was the beginning of this great hobby. As I gained more experience with it, I tried many different types of trees.
Here is some information about natural and artificially dwarfed plants, the process, and a list of some of the best plants to use.
This is a bonsai maple tree. All photos on this page are from Jack2205's collection.
Simple Trees To Begin Bonsai
ome of the easiest plants to dwarf artificially are the conifers, firs, monkey-puzzle tree, cedars, gingkos, spruce, junipers, pines, acacia, beech, birch, crab apples, dogwoods, eucalyptus, hawthorns, holly, horse chestnut, jacaranda, maples, oleander, olive, mock orange, poplar, almonds, apricots, cherries, peaches, and plums, walnut, willows, and wistaria.
Which of these is your favorite Bonsai?
ost natural dwarf trees and shrubs grow in mountainous exposed land with poor quality shallow soil. The large stones restrict the growth of their roots, and the weather and high winds naturally prune their branches and mold them into shapes.
These plants grow in well drained soil and are exposed to very bright light. This is important if you will grow them indoors.
Miniature trees, whether natural or Bonsai grow best in shallow containers, because it's their natural habitat, and they also look more artistic this way.
Natural dwarfs can be planted in good soil, but Bonsai trees require poor soil to keep them small. A good mix is two parts commercial potting soil to one part coarse sand.
They require regular watering, but no feeding because that encourages unwanted growth.
The most popular natural miniature trees are the dwarf conifers, and miniature roses.
Acer Japanese Maple
The Bonsai Art
he Bonsai art, which has been popular in Japan and China for many centuries, is also popular in the United States and is becoming popular in Great Britain.
Bonsai specimens can be bought from florists and plant nurseries, but the larger and older ones can cost a lot.
Dwarfing trees and shrubs can be a great hobby for anyone. You can study the habits of various trees and try just about any of your favorites.
Plants with small leaves and flowers give dwarfs the best proportion and appearance. Large flowers are not reduced in size.
They can be grown indoors in a sunny window. The hardy dwarfs should be put outside in warm rain whenever possible, or spray the leaves to remove the dust.
Of Shaping and Pruning
he trees and shrubs are started from seeds or cuttings by planting them in a shallow pan in seed compost. The pan should be kept continuously moist.
When they are two inches high and have roots, the dwarfing process is started and is spread out over two or three years.
The little plants are transplanted to individual containers, with commercial potting compost. During the next two years, the plants are occasionally removed from their pots and all of the roots growing outside of the root ball are cut back. Or they are planted in cartons and when the roots grow through, they are cut.
In the plant's second year, it is also shaped. This is done by pinching out the growing tip to encourage it to grow bushy. It should give a natural outline to the dwarf, similar to what the large tree would look like. To minimize shock, root and top pruning should not be done at the same time.
Sometimes it is desired to give the miniature tree the appearance of premature old age. This is done by mechanical means, such as curling wire around the branches and trunk, to bend the tree to shape, fixing weights to branches to bear them down, and twisting the trunk and limbs by tying them to pegs that are firmly inserted in the soil.
In the third year, after a root pruning, the Bonsai should be transferred to their permanent quarters in poor soil of two parts potting compost and one part coarse sand.
Learn more about this fascinating hobby.