The ancient art of bonsai is a practice native to Asia that has eventually spread to the rest of the world. Its birth dates back to the Taoist monasteries of China where the cultivation of these miniature trees symbolized the union between the eternal and the finite, the divine and the earthly. But beyond its religious connotations, and without ever abandoning its spiritual meaning, it was in Japan where this curious technique was developed as we know it today -including the term bonsai itself, which derives from the union of the terms “tray” and “cultivate ”.
Gardening and landscaping training In short, bonsai consists of obtaining small-scale specimens of different tree species. That is, in conferring the mature and decayed appearance typical of a wild adult tree to one grown in a pot and which, therefore, is prevented from growing as it would naturally. Therefore, it is a fable that a bonsai is a specimen obtained from genetically modified seeds or “dwarf” species. The truth is that any seedling can, with dedication and patience, be transformed into bonsai, as long as the proper cultivation techniques are known. Today I offer you some basic brushstrokes to awaken your interest in this ancient art.
Like all art, then, bonsai is a fundamentally aesthetic form of expression, so that values ??such as visual impact, compositional harmony or landscape beauty prevail . In this sense, the quality of each specimen is not limited to that of the tree itself, but “extra-botanical” elements are also taken into account, so to speak, such as the concordance between the chosen pot and the exposed tree, or the position and manner in which the bonsai is presented to the public.
One of the main problems in the bonsai world is the lack of information about this art, which leads to cultivation errors, disappointments and abandonment of the hobby. There is a false belief that taking care of a bonsai is something really complicated, but it is not that difficult if you have some botanical notions. Now let’s break this myth …
Surely, we all know from our own experience or that of third parties, some case of the premature death of a bonsai. And it is that commonly the mistake of growing it is made as if it were an indoor plant, when the truth is that what we have in our hands is nothing but a tree that, like the pines of the mountain or the mulberry trees of the street They need sunlight to survive. So, do not forget the most important point: force yourself to grow it in a sufficiently lit place or else it will end up getting sick.
And now let’s continue with the rest of the necessary care of a bonsai …
Like any vegetable, bonsai need water to absorb nutrients. Each species in particular needs different humidity conditions (see list of species to go deeper) but, as a general rule, it is advisable to water when the surface part of the substrate begins to dry out.
Bonsai must be paid during the entire vegetative growth stage, that is, between spring and autumn, pausing in summer during the hottest weeks (as the trees stop growing in extreme temperatures). Prolonged release organic fertilizer should be used, which ferments little by little and prevents us from over-fertilizing the bonsai and damaging its roots.
Each species has lighting needs, but as a general rule it is recommended to locate the tree in an east orientation, since it receives direct sunlight in the morning, thus avoiding secondary hours during the central hours in summer.
The trees must be transplanted eventually: generally, every 2-3 years in young specimens and up to every 10 years in older bonsai. The reason for doing this is to achieve greater oxygenation in the roots, since over the years the roots run out of space in the pot and begin to form a very compact and hard root ball that does not allow water to penetrate properly. between the substrate, so that cultivation problems begin to appear. During this process, it is usually recommended to cut 2/3 of the roots, but always trying to respect the finer capillaries at the expense of the thick roots, since the greater the quantity of these roots there will be a better absorption capacity of the nutrients.
The substrate chosen will depend on the type of tree, but in general a porous soil is used, which in turn has a certain capacity to retain water. An example of this would be the mixture of akadama with kiryu or akadama with pomx.
Apart from the care, it is also convenient to know how to use bonsai to achieve a sublime space in the garden. You could make the difference between a corner that you like and another that you fall in love with . A bonsai is an ideal design tool that offers differentiation, elegance and personality.
First of all, it is possible to customize the “display” or the presentation of the collection on shelves, on pedestals, on benches … The way the tree is displayed is something very personal, but it can achieve a spectacular and stately effect.
Secondly, the pot is something to take into account, since it must go in unison with the species (otherwise it can take away the role of the tree itself or even look more than it). In such a way that, if the tray is well chosen, it will convey emotions that with a normal plant would be impossible to evoke. You have to imagine it as a representation of nature on a reduced scale, so the range of possibilities is very wide.
Third, the chosen species and sizes must be taken into account . With a rigorous decision of the specimens, you will achieve extraordinary effects. You will build environments (using species from the same habitat) or you will even achieve very exotic combinations if you associate trees that have nothing to do with each other, such as a ficus and a Japanese maple.
The size will also be something to keep in mind because, depending on how you group the bonsai, you will achieve a different effect (depth, realism, etc.)
The fact that it is a living being that can be molded by the hand of man and that in turn changes its appearance, throughout the seasons and throughout its life, entails many advantages but also great challenges. What do you say to me, do you dare …? It has a bonsai to give a touch of glamor, elegance and exclusivity to that corner of your home.