Bonsai is an ancient Japanese version of the well-known traditional Chinese garden tree, the tea plant. Unlike most penjing or tea plant sets, bonsai uses traditional methods to create natural habitats in containers that mimic the natural growth of trees. There are four fundamental types of bonsai, each depicting a unique culture and style. Each one was created as a work of art to bring the owner close to nature.
The first is the small container or bonsai tree. In Chinese culture, a small container with a soil mix was typically placed on the Feng Shui portion of the bed, and the designations used for the container were based on the concept of Yin and Yang. The branches were to be arranged in a way that would keep the sun out while still permitting enough air to circulate around the container, so that the tree would always stay healthy.
The second type of Bonsai is the root balled Bonsai. A root ball is a tightly closed pack of soil that has been carefully rolled into a ball, with the “bark” of the root system enclosed within the ball. The soil was packed into the ball with small rocks, bamboo twigs and other natural materials to firmly support the roots. These Bonsai roots have a very tight interlocking bond, forming what is known as a trifectus. Once the plant has grown to a certain size, the roots are pruned to separate sections and the container is left to dry.
The third type of Bonsai is known as a mini Bonsai. In this form, the main plant is placed into a container that is smaller than the primary plant in the group. This way, it is easier to work the tree and to determine if it will grow to the intended size. Mini Bonsai tree’s roots are kept firmly in the pot. Water is applied to these plants on a regular basis and they are repeated every two or three months.
Another popular form is called a miniaturized Bonsai. In this case, the branches and roots are grown separately, within the container. Repotting should be done on an annual basis. Miniaturizing with a trunk of a larger tree allows a Bonsai grower to have a trunk and shape that are substantially longer than the trunk of the plant, which results in the ability to reach high branches without damaging the plant.
Mini Bonsai trees can be grown in a basic Bonsai pot, which has shallow drainage holes at the bottom. They will need less sunlight, but will tolerate some shade during the summer. The best way to provide Bonsai trees with the proper care and attention is to start them indoors, where they can receive all the needed nutrition and attention. The process of training the tree into its new home can take up to two years. Once the tree is well established, it will require very little maintenance.
One of the most popular Bonsai species for ficus is the Ficus Retusa. They getty is the name given to the Bonsai ficus, since it is the most common type of Bonsai trees grown today. Many ficus enthusiasts prefer to use the bonsai grown indoors, because they are easier to keep healthier, even during the winter. The bonsai gets is a thick root mass that makes it easier for the tree to absorb nutrients and water, while it matures.
Junipers are another popular choice for Bonsai plants. Many people mistakenly think that a Bonsai tree planted outdoors needs much more attention then a Bonsai plant that is successfully grown in a Bonsai pot. Junipers can be successfully grown in a standard Bonsai pot, because they tend to have thicker, fuller roots. They also tend to have more foliage, and do better in smaller containers.