Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Care of Bonsai Trees Can Be Therapeutic

There is something therapeutic about the growing and care of bonsai trees

. A quiet sense of accomplishment can be obtained in watching nature and your skill join to slowly create a living work of art.

In growing a bonsai, you are in essence coaxing the forces of nature to bend to your will. You are creating a work of art that lives, grows and changes, providing a sense of wonder and accomplishment. Indeed many believe that growing bonsais is a spiritual undertaking and I personally find it a great stress-buster.

The growing and care of bonsai trees is also a hobby that can be undertaken by young and old alike.This means it is something you can enjoy with your children, nieces and nephews, or perhaps even with your grandchildren.

A bonsai should have the appearance of great age but also a sense of timeless endurance and vitality. This can be achieved by having a tree with a weathered looking trunk but vigorous branches and leaves. When deciding how much of your tree to prune, bear in mind the trunk and canopy should remain roughly in the same proportion as those you would find in a fully grown tree of the same variety. Achieving this effect requires pruning of branches and leaves.

Pruning of branches can be done with a good, strong set of scissors or clippers, although older branches may require the use of a pruning saw. The tools should always be clean and sharp and it pays to sterilize the blades with a flame to minimize the risk of spreading disease.

Before deciding which branch, or branches to remove, consider carefully the overall shape you are trying to create. The tree is yours to shape as you will, but you do not want to end up with something that is not pleasing to the eye and therefore detracts from your joy in the care of bonsai trees.

Major prunes are generally carried out every winter but it is important to regularly cut back or pinch off shoots growing from the bottom or already pruned parts of your tree. This will encourage the plant to concentrate growth at the top.

The proper care of bonsai trees also involves pruning the roots every one to three years. Leaving the roots untouched for too long can be dangerous as your plant may become root bound and perhaps die. Generally you remove around one third of the roots, leaving a tightly packed root ball along with enough room in your tree's small container for fresh soil to be added. This will encourage the growth of new roots.

Pruning and nipping is not always enough to achieve the desired effect, so bonsai growers use copper wire to hold the tree into the shape they want. Once the tree begins growing in the desired direction the wire can be removed. With some trees, such as conifers, you may need to leave the wire on for up to a year. This is something you may want to look into a little more as you research your care of bonsai trees.

Your bonsai requires regular attention to keep it healthy. Many people believe bonsais must be kept indoors, however most actually prefer being outside where conditions are similar to those they would find if they were growing wild. However this does depend on where you are living and whether your tree is a native to your area. It may be that you need to bring your tree indoors for winter, but if so you will need to check regularly whether you are providing it with the right amount of moisture and sunlight.

One of the most critical elements in the care of bonsai trees is watering. Unfortunately there are no set rules here. So much depends on the weather in the area where you live, and whether it is suited to your particular type of tree. You need to keep a constant watch on the soil. When it begins to dry out, water

your plant and keep watering until the water runs out of the holes in the bottom of its container. It is a good idea to repeat this process a second time, around ten minutes later. Check the moisture level of the soil in your pot as you should not water again until it is beginning to dry out. Over-watering can be as harmful as under-watering and is one of the most common mistakes first-time bonsai growers make.

The growing and care of bonsai trees is a relatively inexpensive but extremely rewarding hobby, one that you can take a quiet pleasure in and also one that can provide an interesting and aesthetic focal point for your home and garden. It requires little in the way of specialist equipment and is easily done once you have mastered a few simple techniques.

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