ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Beginning Bonsai Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Updated on February 29, 2020
Click thumbnail to view full-size
an upright bonsai with red flowers
an upright bonsai with red flowers
an upright bonsai with red flowers

The Japanese word bonsai and it's Chinese counterpart penzai are literally translated to 'tray plant.' An art form, and also widely accepted as a spiritual practice, the art of bonsai involves the planting and careful cultivation of dwarf versions of plants and trees and configuring them in a fashion that is both aesthetically pleasing and perhaps even holding some purpose.

Bonsai plants are typically grown from cuttings or seeds, but can also be grown using young or naturally small trees and planting them into containers. The categories that bonsai come in are:

  • Miniature bonsai - any dwarf plant less than six inches in height
  • Small bonsai - these range from six to 12 inches tall
  • Medium bonsai - a little taller at 13 to 24 inches
  • Large bonsai - any dwarf plant that is over 24 inches tall

Vital to bonsai horticulture is the shape and attitude of the trunk, which can come in the following styles:

Cascade style bonsai are manicured to lean out from the soil line and spread downward over the edge of the tray or container they are planted in. The branches and greenery lay out and dangle. One off-shoot of this style is called semi-cascade, and in this style the apex of the plant reaches down around the center of the bonsai pot or tray below the soil line.

Formal Upright bonsai are the most classic form of bonsai and dictates the differences for other styles. The trunk remains perfectly straight and perpendicular to the container, narrowing upward to form a point at the tallest area of the plant.

Informal Upright bonsai differ in that their trunks are curved, otherwise following the patterning and positioning of the formal upright style.

Slant bonsai feature a leaning trunk where the apex of the trunk leans either to the left or the right of the trunk base, yet still above the soil line.

Bonsai: The Art Form

That's right, bonsai is primarily an art form. True bonsai (even that store-bought Wal-mart bonsai crap) is the product of hours and hours, days and days, sometimes years and years of painstaking work from a horticultural artist. It is an act of patience, and is an art that everyone can perform.

There is great symbolism in bonsai, various flowers and trees carrying with their bonsai a certain meaning. For instance, to bonsai a pine tree is to create a work of living art representative of a healthy and happy old age. Such a plant would be a lovely gift for a parent or grandparent.

Your First Bonsai

Your first bonsai project may be inexpensive, or it may be costly. It may be simple, or it may be extravagant. Your initial foray into the world of bonsai should always be meaningful, enjoyable, and even if met with failure, be experienced with introspection. As you begin your planting, take time to consider what of yourself you are putting into your bonsai. What your hopes, desires, and wishes are for the plant matter throughout the process of planting, pruning, shaping and cultivating your various effects.

For more assistance in your bonsai project, please see Patty Inglish's hub regarding bonsai, the link for which is found in my links section below titled "The Giant That is Bonsai."

Pictures of Bonsai trees

Chinese vs. Japanese Bonsai

The Chinese version of 'tray plant' art is called Penzai, from which the Japanese word Bonzai came, and the two styles of bonsai are very different from one another.

Penzai are purposefully given the appearance of wild growth, a concept referred to as "breaking free" - growth is inspired outward and the tray or pot the plant is set in tends toward more wild, flamboyant, or colorful designs.

Bonsai in the Japanese sense are more restrained in design, controlled, cleanly grown and pruned, with trays or pots that are neutral in color and design.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Zonk 

      10 years ago

      I always wanted to get one of these but I didn't know it is such a science to grow bonsais!

    • profile image

      eveconsult1 

      11 years ago

      thank you for the tips

    • reviewadon profile image

      reviewadon 

      11 years ago

      I've always wanted a bonsai, never had the patience though.

    • tech02 profile image

      tech02 

      11 years ago from India

      Excellent tips for beginners! Good work gamergirl.

    • StevenCavendish profile image

      StevenCavendish 

      11 years ago

      Excellent hub. I'll check out your other hubs.

    • Co8 profile image

      Co8 

      13 years ago

      Great hub! Im totally new with bonsai and I found your hub very well-written, thanks! Thumbs up for you.

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      13 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      SunSeven: With bonsai, it is not a matter of how long, but what you hope to achieve. Bonsai is a lesson in patience, in shaping a visible goal. Some plants may take years to perfect!

      Patty: I haven't forgotten about you! I'm currently editing a few things for college class then I will be posting a new hub specifically addressing birch bonsai tips and tricks. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      13 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      gamergirl, have you ever grown a birch bonsai? -- a couple of us are thinking of it and would like any hints you can give to us.

    • SunSeven profile image

      SunSeven 

      13 years ago from Singapore / India

      I plan to grow Bonsais.I wonder how long it takes to grow one properly!

      Thank you and best Regards

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      13 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      You're all very welcome. :) I have updated the hub to include more content, please enjoy!

    • profile image

      bhubaneshwar 

      13 years ago

      Hi Gamergirl. Thank you for the info about bonsai trees. Here in India , I had seen them in a plant exhibition. I tried to make some, sorry failed.

      Thank you again,

      DR.B.SARAF Ph.D.

    • profile image

      Taunya Millet 

      13 years ago

      Hi Gamergirl. Thank you for the info about bonsai trees. I have wondred if the Bonsai tree has an edible berry on it. It looks like the pics of hawthorn trees, and hawthorn trees have a berry that is great for people who have high blood pressure.

      Thank you again,

      Taunya

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      13 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      Me too. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      13 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Great Hub! - I like the Chinese Garden of Friendship very much, especially.

    • gamergirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Kiz Robinson 

      13 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

      Added a links section, as promised. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      I will try again! I've successfully killed 4 of the little 'guys' already!

      Great Hub.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      13 years ago from Chennai

      Great going, will check back for more hubs on this. Hope it's not too difficult; I love learning a new craft.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)