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Japanese Culture >> Bonsai

Bonsai, An Alluring Japanese Art Form

The art of bonsai cultivating embraces the growing of tiny trees, usually in wee trays, or small pots.
By precision clipping and growing them in small containers, it is feasible to retain their small forms.

It doesn't take long, to learn the basic art of pruning a bonsai plant and give you great satisfaction, but could take, maybe a lifetime to master the art. Japanese, 'shin zen bi' combines the three forces, beauty, truth and essence, as part of the philosophy, behind their form of bonsai.

In their endless for perfection, the Japanese aim for a perfectly natural, though miniaturized look to the tree, or plant. Their bonsai look as though they grew that way, without mans help. That is the aim.

The Chinese tend toward the artistic and more imaginative with their bonsai, growing them into Chinese lettering and mythical life forms, as well as living creatures. Personally, I much prefer the more challenging, but natural miniaturized Japanese form, as it is more pleasing to my eye and senses.

The bonsai art form goes back a long, long way. Starting in China, over 3,000 years ago, traders discovered found bonsai markets and eager pupils outside of Asia, from as far away as the middle east and even Africa. Medical practitioners in the Orient and even Egypt (where samples have even been found in their graves, used bonsai to make many medicinal drugs). There are many different forms and types of bonsai, especially trees. They vary from curved trunks and trailing branches, similar to a tree grown high on a windswept cliff, above a stormy sea, to the more formal, straighter trunk and carefully trimmed branches of a cosseted tree, found in a peaceful garden.

The tending of Your Bonsai Tree

Bonsai growing is a wonderful way for you to to 'connect' with nature, on a spiritual level, or simply enjoy a worthwhile challenge and peaceful, pleasurable pastime.

To help smooth your bonsai road a little, here are seven good tips for you.

1. Watering. Very important, as too much, or too little can kill, or stunt your creation. Don't worry, with a little thought, it is easy to get the balance right and you will always have a healthy friend growing on your window sill, or table.

Two easy watering methods. Your finger, or a water meter.

Your finger method. Simply stick your finger into the bonsai soil. That's it! If dry, water until it starts to drain through the holes in the bottom of the pot. Obviously, you would water less during the winter and more in the summer.

The alternate method is to use a water meter. They always come with full, but simple instructions, so you should have no problems getting the moisture balance right, every time.

2. Feeding and fertilizing your tree/plant. Generally best done in the spring and autumn (fall). Basically, it comprises adding, phosphoric acid, nitrogen and potash. Fertilize twice monthly, in the spring and monthly in late autumn and winter. 3. Choose the correct container. Consider, the size and shape and how your bonsai will look in it. Match up the shape and size of the proposed tree and container, to enhance the overall effect. For instance, it would be a mistake to use a small, delicate container to hold a heavy trunked and larger bonsai.

4. Lighting needs of your bonsai friend. Optimally, most bonsai need a certain amount of sunlight. The exception being if your tree has been heavily trimmed, or recently potted in fresh soil. Then, limit the sunlight temporarily. You may even wish to take it outside for its dose of vitamin D. If you live in a sunlight deprived area, my advice would be to choose a bonsai which is not dependent upon direct sunlight. Some need very little indeed.

5. Study up on the different seasonal, nutritional requirements, for your bonsai. They grow at several different rates and their nutritional needs vary throughout the seasons. It's not difficult. You just need to be aware, that's all.

6. Plan the shape and style of your tree. Remember, you have a large say in the eventual shape and form your bonsai will take. Early planning will save later disappointment.

7. Plan the placement of your little bonsai pal. You will give time, love and effort to your bonsai and this will be returned to you, many time over, by its shape, size and beauty. Therefore, it will need to be perfectly placed in its own, special spot somewhere, to take advantage of all your effort and to let its beauty shine forth and brighten your home, or office.

About the Author

About The Author, Ray Cunningham. Ray is a very enthusiastic, but new, bonsai lover. If you wish to find out more, along with him, you will find other absorbing bonsai gems at his web site at He is also very excited about his new Squidoo lens at. Go and see his latest efforts. He would appreciate any comments and suggestions at both his site and Squidoo lens