Bonsai are basically grown in pots, containers, and trays. They are yet very different from plants grown in containers. They are not to be confused with dwarf trees. In fact, they are full-sized trees and are grown using basic bonsai techniques, such as root reduction, potting, pruning, wiring, defoliation, etc.
They are not meant for production of food and medicine, but strictly meant for landscaping and home decor. They may be shaped in various formal or informal styles, like slant, cascade, windswept, etc. Pots used for planting could be simple or unusually shaped trays made of plastic, wood, stone, or ceramic. The pot has drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water drainage. Further, these holes are covered with mesh to prevent soil from falling out and for wiring the roots until the tree can bear its own weight.
There are many kinds of these trees, one can choose from. An amateur can also learn this art with relative ease by practicing and applying some tried and tested techniques. Given below are a few types.
Azalea: Azalea is the most common form of bonsai known and best for an amateur. The azalea has pretty flowers that accentuate its beauty. It should never be placed in full sun and must be fed with suitable fertilizers before blooming starts.
Japanese Maple: A shade-loving bonsai, the Japanese maple is popular for its delicate foliage that turns into a startling shade of red, orange or yellow. It is easy to shape in any desired style; however, all pruning and styling should be done in spring.
Fukien Tea: Fukien Tea is a very small genus of tropical trees that should be placed in direct sunlight for not more than an hour. As the leaves on the shoots are quite tiny, one can wire new shoots to shape the tree. It should be repotted every 2 - 3 years, in early spring.
Pomegranate: One of the most favored deciduous bonsai, the pomegranate can be quite a colorful addition to your bonsai collection with its bright green tiny leaves, red trumpet-shaped flowers, and tiny round orangish red ornamental fruit.
Magnolia: A Magnolia is primarily a very slow-growing shrub that can be cultivated as a bonsai. This one requires patience, for it will be a good 25 - 30 years before it begins to bear flowers. The flowers are star-shaped and white in color. With no leaves on the magnolia, the flowers look extremely dramatic on the bonsai.
Flowering Crabapple: Any apple species would look great as a bonsai, but the flowering crabapple beats them all when it comes to absolute beauty. One can try different styles on crabapples too, although the upright formal type is more favored. The tree bears white, pink, or red flowers and tiny green-red sour apples. They too are a great choice for beginners.
Bougainvillea: This versatile tree or shrub, with its varied colored flowers and bright-green foliage is one of the most abundantly found bonsai in most plant nurseries. They are easy to take care of and grow really fast. They can be well styled in a cascading manner, and are one of the few bonsai trees that enjoy full sun.
Other types include jade, dwarf juniper, Chinese elm, bamboo, cherry trees, ginkgo, cypress, white pine, boxwood, etc. As you can see the list is endless, so one can create new beauties every year, and keep adding to the existing collection.
The Chinese and Japanese pioneered the art of creating a bonsai and made it accessible to the whole world. This art is over a thousand years old. In China, it was during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) that miniature gardens were created. Legend has it that an emperor of this dynasty wanted to view his entire kingdom from the window, hence a garden was created complete with hills, valleys, rivers, lakes, and trees.
However, some historians believe that it was during the Tang dynasty some 200 years later, bonsai was created. It was during the Heian period (794 - 1191 CE) that Buddhist monks brought it from China to Japan, where the Japanese perfected and refined this art. Much of what we see and understand about the art of making bonsai can be safely credited to the Japanese. It was in the 19th century, it came upon the western shores, and from then on bonsai art has dominated the landscaping scene.
So, all set to grow your own little bonsai trees? We hope our article helped you in this regard. Before you decide upon a type, it is advisable to learn as much as you can about this tree's basic requirements and amendments required for growth.