Bonsai is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hon non bo. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years, and has evolved its own unique aesthetics and terminology. 'Bonsai' is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai. A 'bon' is a tray-like pot typically used in bonsai culture. The word bonsai is often used in English as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots, but this article focuses on bonsai as defined in the Japanese tradition.
A bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree of a species suitable for bonsai development. Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species which produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.
The practice of bonsai is sometimes confused with dwarfing, but dwarfing more accurately refers to research and creation of plant cultivars that are permanent, genetic miniatures of existing species. Bonsai does not require genetically dwarfed trees, but rather depends on growing small trees from regular stock and seeds. Bonsai uses cultivation techniques like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-sized trees.
Bonsai is the art of growing trees and other plants into small containers in such a way that it becomes the miniature of a real tree. A bonsai tree may be 10 years old but have a height of one foot only. The art of bonsai originated perhaps more than 1000 years ago in China. Early Japanese aristocrats also showed a fondness for bonsai and contributed greatly to its development. Bonsai is different from normal pot planting as it is considered an art form. A bonsai tree is carefully shaped to remain small but still has the appearance of a large tree. It dose not need large pots but small containers and not much of soil. A bonsai container has holes in the bottom which are covered with small nets so that the soil does not flow out with the water. The plant is then taken out for its original pot and one third of its root is cut off. It is then tied with the bottom of the pot with the help of wires. Soil is then spread over it to cover the container, but about one inch of the root is allowed to stay above the soil to enhance beauty. The soft branches of the plant are coiled with wires so that they are compelled to grow the way the planter wants them to grow.
This allows the planter to give the tree a particular shape. A bonsai plant is never allowed to grow to high. In fact bonsai is classified in two ways- a) the style in which the branches are planted and shaped and b) their sizes. Plants that are under 6 inches are called miniature, 6-12 inches : small, 12-24 inches: medium, and those more than 24 inches are called large. Almost all woody plants can be grown as bonsai. The art of bonsai is now quite popular in many places of the world. For some people, it is not only an interesting pastime but also a money maker.