Bonsai trees are lovely – they radiate a feeling of calmness, luxury, and peace, and are anyone’s top pick when it comes to gardening. Not a lot of people know how to plant a Bonsai tree and care for it, however, and chances are that if you’re here, you are one of those people.
In this article by Elitech Drip, we’re going to take a look at everything you need to know about growing a Bonsai in your garden. But before we get to growing a Bonsai, let’s find out how the pretty tree found its way into Indian homes.
History of Bonsai
The Chinese apparently had a history of creating miniature landscapes over 2000 years ago. They went deep into studying the reproduction and size of the original plants and their potential to produce magic. The students of this study had their eyes on gaining these magical properties of plants.
During the Kamakura period 700 years ago, the Japanese got inspired by this art form, and from that moment on, a distinctively Japanese style emerged. Instead of the entire landscape, the Japanese started growing individual trees in small pots and containers – trees that would much later be called Bonsais. The word “Bonsai” (often misspelled as Bonzai or Banzai) is a Japanese term which, literally translated, means “planted in a container”.
What Kind Of Tree Is A Bonsai?
It would be a bit confusing about what kind of a tree a Bonsai is. In reality, the Chinese actually used an ancient art form called Penjing, which was later adopted and developed by the Japanese. Bonsai trees are grown with a purpose to resemble real life size trees. Today these trees are being grown in most parts of the world.
Advantages Of Having A Bonsai
It is widely believed that the Bonsai tree is a symbol – which represents peace as well as balance and harmony. So if you’re someone who believes in auspicious plants, this tree has a lot of it.
Note: We discuss a lot more about lucky plants and how to plant them in this article, so be sure to check it out if you’re interested.
You might find this to your advantage that the Bonsai tree does not conserve a lot of space, it will fit right in your window space or even in your balcony.
A Bonsai can be planted either indoors or outdoors, and there’s really no particular rule as to where you need to plant it. This is a very useful advantage because it allows you to grow Bonsais at your home or even your office desks.
How To Grow A Bonsai in India
Now that we know most of how a Bonsai found its way into India and why they are so famous, let’s talk about how to go ahead and plant a Bonsai. There are a number of ways you can do this, really, but all of them involve growing, pruning and shaping as the major processes. Let’s take a look at each of the methods individually.
Watch the video above to easily grow Banyan tree bonsai at home
Purchasing a Bonsai tree from a nursery or a shop
Most people instead of growing a Bonsai tree down from the seed, they start by buying a Bonsai tree straight from their local florist. You can do this too, and save yourself from the hassles of growing a whole Bonsai from scratch. Florists call these ready-made trees Pre-Bonsai, which can be either purchased online or from nurseries or even the shops nearby. Just make sure you take care of a few things before purchasing a Pre-Bonsai.
The first thing that you have to look out for is everything must be in a single pack. What you have to look for is a starter kit, which might contain a sapling, container, training wire, some soil with rocks and the instructions for its effective growth.
If you are a beginner who is looking to purchase a Bonsai tree then you might want to look for a tree which has less maintenance, in other words, you have to look for an easy-to-care-for tree. We’ll go deeper into this in a bit.
Also a good thing to practice when buying Pre-Bonsais is to check the conditions of the place that you reside in. A Bonsai tree needs to meet certain weather conditions with the place that you intend to grow it in. It is also said that the sub-tropical or indoor Bonsai trees will perform their best indoors. The same is true for outdoor Bonsais as well.
If you intend to take good care of the Bonsai tree then be sure to ask about the species of the tree that you have bought.
And last but not least you need to keep the pot or the container that you are planting the tree for any leaks or damages. Make sure there’s nothing faulty with it, as that can cause a lot of problems later on.
Preparing Bonsai Soil
Bonsai Soil needs to be well-drained, and should not have too much fertilizer
Growing the tree on your own
A Bonsai tree can be grown from seed or through propagation by cutting parts of an older tree. The most preferred method is growing the tree from the cuttings or the seedlings or even a pre-Bonsai – because this is a faster and more efficient way. These developed plants are available almost everywhere – you can even cut a few stems off of your friend’s bonsai.
Although growing a Bonsai from the stems is easier and generally preferred, we’re also going to walk you through growing the tree from seeds as well, just so you can choose for yourself what kind of growing process you’d like to proceed with.
Growing Bonsai from seed
Before planting the seed into the container containing the soil, it would be a good practice to add a layer of coarse, draining substrate to the container.
Tip: Now, in case you have not yet bought the Bonsai seeds, they can be found online, at your local florist’s, or you can even purchase them from the nurseries. The seeds that you have bought or purchased might need scarification or stratification and all of this will mostly depend on the kind of species of the tree that you have selected to grow.
Immerse the Bonsai seed into the compost-mixed soil. You can place multiple seeds together in the same container, but make sure to maintain proper distancing between the seeds.
Then you move on to add a layer of Bonsai soil which is just a fancy name of the standard soil that’s well-draining. It’s used as a growing medium. Make sure the layer is about 2 centimeters thick.
Tip: To properly set the soil after immersing the seeds, dab your hand to level the soil in the container. You may even use specific gardening tools mentioned in our blog, that can help you achieve better results, faster.
Finally, water the container thoroughly and regularly. This is to keep the moisture of the container intact, at least until the first germination of the seeds. Once this happens, watering your container every alternative day would be more than enough.
Growing a Bonsai tree from their cuttings
As we did with the seeding process, set up a layer of coarse, draining substrate in the container first. Then, add the Bonsai soil.
Prune a few branches off from a Bonsai tree, if you already have one, or take some from your local florist. We’ll discuss more about pruning in a bit.
The tree branches which have been picked out from the source (Bonsai tree) should be pruned at an angle of 45°, and this should be done using a sharp knife – this is because the process is more accurate using a pruning knife.
Place the pruned branches 2 centimeters deep into the container.
As with the seeding process, keep watering regularly to maintain soil moisture and avoid dehydration. The cuttings usually take about a few weeks to start growing if kept in proper conditions.
Pruning in a Bonsai tree
Pruning is important because it helps you shape your plants as you desire. It is also useful as the cut off parts of the plant can be used to grow the same plants again.
This is what we talked about when we discussed growing a Bonsai through pruning the branches. But pruning can be done in two ways, and we’re going to discuss these two methods below.
Pruning of Bonsai roots
From what we learned earlier, we all know that a Bonsai is grown in small pots or containers of your wish. So this proves that the roots have been prevented from growing. Pruning is done to ensure that there is a lot of space for the new roots which will grow into the container. This is very essential for a healthy growing Bonsai tree.
Pruning of Bonsai foliage
This kind of pruning will help you to get the design that you are looking for out of a Bonsai. Everyone likes to have a different shape or a unique Bonsai. By pruning the foliage, you can shape the source Bonsai tree as per your design.
Important Tip: If you want your tree to grow healthily, you must take care to remove the dead and disease-infected leaves and branches from your Bonsai. It goes without saying, but these dead and damaged parts should never be planted again.
Shaping of Bonsai trees
Everyone would like to have a different shape for their Bonsai tree. And to give this shape that you so rightly desire to the Bonsai, you need not run to a professional cutter and shaper. It’s simpler than you might imagine.
Just using a wire to assist you with the tree branches will help a lot while doing this on your own. The wires that you use must be of copper and this will come with the starter kit, if you have one.
Make sure you take enough care to not damage the branches. the wire can tend to get in the way of your shaping but with proper work, it can be done. You can always hire a professional at any time if you feel the process to be complicated.
Taking Care Of Your Bonsai Tree
It’s one thing to grow your Bonsai into a healthy tree. It takes a whole lot more to maintain it and see it grow the way you want it to. So let’s look at some tips that will help you go a long way into maintaining the health of your Bonsais, while also helping produce more Bonsais.
One of the first things to note while trimming your Bonsai is to check out which of the branches seem easy to shave, and have a rough bark.
Never forget that you should not water your plants too much.The best way to prevent both watery soil and dehydration is to water the Bonsai trees every alternate day (which means once in two days). A
Bonsai trees can be grown from both seeds and cuttings, as we mentioned before. However, better and more developed planting materials are readily available in local nurseries everywhere. These nurseries can get you better quality seedlings of a Bonsai tree or even the tree cuttings. Moreover, they even have a young Bonsai tree with them(a pre-Bonsai). This pre-Bonsai has smaller leaves which usually grow in a week or two.
If in case you are planning to grow a fruit or flower on a Bonsai then you must make sure that at least 4 hours of direct sunlight is needed. This means you’re Bonsai would be better off growing outside in a well lit area.
The Bonsai trees can be placed indoor but if you are looking for the perfect spot then Windows is the best place. You can also use a balcony as an alternative, even a garden shelf or on the terrace of your house. it has been said that you must never keep a Bonsai tree in a room with an air conditioner for a long period.
Which Bonsai Trees Can You Plant In India?
The kind of Bonsai tree you want to grow will vary according to the climate,and India has a lot of diversity in its climate. Naturally, you need to know which trees can be grown in your area. We’ve covered that for you here as well. The following list contains all the different kinds of Bonsai trees you can grow in India, regardless of where you live. Thank us later.
Anaar, Anjeer, Bamboo, Chiku, Christmas tree, Guava, Gulmohar mango, Mehandi, Mosambi, Palas, Rubber, Silver, Oak, Lime, Vad, Pipal, Lumbar, Kanchan, Babul, Vilayet babul, Vilayet tamarind, Shahtut, Neel mohor, Malpighian, Duranta, Bougain vel, Pine, Petria, Bakul, Jambul, Kavath, Karvand, Batlicha kuncha, Hirda, Red mohor, Amal tash, Pahadi rose, Vajragundi, Din ka raja, Parijat and last but not least, Suru.
Price Of A Bonsai Tree In India
The price of a Bonsai tree depends heavily on its age. It also depends on the type of tree you pick to a certain degree – for instance, a small Ficus 40cm Bonsai plant can cost about 5000 INR.
You can also opt for growing Bonsais through seeds, and these start from about 100 INR depending on the type of seed.
It sure is fun to raise a Bonsai tree. It will provide you with peace and harmony as the tree represents both of them. In India, there are several horticulture exhibitions and fairs – serving as perfect opportunities to buy Bonsai trees at cheaper rates.
Most people these days have started growing Bonsai trees by purchasing them through many online shopping portals, to get started. It would be more interesting, however, for you to learn and start growing a Bonsai tree yourself, from scratch, giving it your own style, at home. Not to mention that it will be less expensive as well.
Learn more about Bonsai Making in India: Video Playlist