Japanese art and technique of dwarfing trees is called 'Bonsai'
. Bonsai is actually formed of two Japanese words 'Bon' meaning a shallow container and 'sai' meaning a plant.
Bonsai are classified in three groups on the basis of size.
They are (1) Mame or miniature bonsai (under 15cms), (2) Small bonsai (32 - 60cms), and (3) Big bonsai (more than 60cms).
The shape of trunk, number of plants and the way they are growing form different styles.
Styles of Bonsai:
The style depends on a number of plants and the way they grows. They are as following:
Method of Growing Bonsai
Bonsai can be grown from seeds or from cuttings. Before sowing seeds are kept in bowl of water. Those seeds which float are removed. The seeds which sink are used for sowing. A seed-pan or big pot is prepared for sowing. The hole at the bottom is covered by plastic mesh. First sieve the soil and keep it. The three grades are separated by sieving (coarse, medium and fine). At the bottom and up to quarter of its depth, the pot is filled with coarse soil. Then put the second layer of the soil of medium type. Keep the seeds in this layer (about 5cms. apart) and cover it with fine soil. Water with fine watering-can or keep the pot in tub containing water. Through the drainage hole the water will seep into the pot. When the top soil is wet, the pot is removed from the tub. Cover the seed pot with plastic or sheet of glass and place the pot in shady place. Watering is done only when the top soil becomes dry. When the seed germinates, the plastic or glass covering is removed.
It often happens that people staying in city will not have that much of time or place to grow seedlings and then transplanting them. For them it is better choose and buy the seedlings from good nursery.
After about a year the seedlings are repotted. An appropriate pot is taken and the holes are covered with plastic mesh. Take a wire of medium gauge and pass through holes and plastic mesh. Cover the bottom of the container with coarse soil. Then spread medium soil on it. Now keep the prepared plant in position and tie the wire to the base of the plant to keep it in position. Fill the container with medium soil up to almost top. Then sprinkle fine soil on top. Immerse the pot in the tub containing water. The water enters through drainage hole. Wet the leaves with a fine watering can. Keep the container in shade for a week or so. As soon as new growth appears, start exposing the plant to the sun.
Repot the plant according to the shape of the container and style required. In rectangular or oval pots, the correct position of the plant is towards one of the ends, right or left. For hexagonal, round or square pot, the correct position of plant is in centre. The plant should be off centre if one prefers cascade or semi-cascade style. The repotting also depends on type of plant and its container. Evergreen plants (Pinus, Junipers etc.) are generally repotted after four to five years, while flowering and fruiting plants are repotted almost after every year. The plant grown in small containers need repotting more frequently than that grown in bigger containers. The season of repotting is generally spring or monsoon. Along with repotting, pruning of branches and thinning of roots are also done.
For repotting, cut the wire if its use to keep the plant in position, from the bottom of the pot. Tap the pot gently from the side. Hold the plant in one hand, and turn the pot upside down. If the plant does not come out of the pot, once again gently tap the sides of the container. The plant will come out with the boll of soil containing the roots. The soil is gently removed from the roots and the long roots are cut off. About 1/3 of the roots are cut of before repotting in the other container. The process of repotting is exactly similar to the potting of the plant (use of plastic mesh, 3 types of soil, introducing of plant at right place, watering indirectly etc.).
To give specific shape and style, often wiring is done along with the bendmg of branches.
Some of the flowering plants for Bonsai
1. Allamarda cathartica
3. Butea monosperma
4. Calliandra haemeatocephata
5. Cassia fistula
6. Delonix regia
9. Saraca indica
10. Thevetia neorifolia
Some of the plants grown for foliage
1. Aurocaria excelsa
3. Casuarina equisctifolia
5. Cycas revoluta
Some of the plants grown for fruits
1. Anacardium occidentale
2. Citrus aurantifolia
4. Punica grantum
5. Suzygium cuminii
6. Terminalia catappa