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Bonsai: The Art of Aesthetics

Post by on Tuesday, August 10, 2021

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Bonsai making is one of the technical and most important activities of garden lovers which need proper skill and knowledge. Bonsai consists of two words viz. ‘Bone’ means “tray” and “sai” means to grow. In other words, growing plants in shallow containers with an aim to build an aged look and restricting growth of a plant.

The art is believed to have originated from China during 1133 AD but Japanese also claim its origin from their country. Bonsai is now an integral part in interior landscaping and pot plant culture. Bonsai plants cost from thousands to lakhs depending upon age, species and aesthetic look. This art requires visionary perception and deep imagination.

Choice of Bonsai

One can have a specific choice for making bonsai of a particular plant. Bonsai plants are categorized on the basis of height as Mamie - 2” to 6” , Small - 6” to 12” ,Medium- 12” to 24”  and  large- 24” to 60”. Now the choice remains with an individual. The only consideration is that bonsai making is possible only in Perennials.


Types of Bonsai:

Formal upright: The plant is trained in a formal manner without twists. The most important
requirement for this style is keeping the trunk
perfectly straight

 Informal upright: The arrangement of branches in plants is informal. An informal upright bonsai, the trunk should slightly bend to the left or right, but never towards the viewer.


 Windswept:  Zig-zag pattern of branches like winds blow the branches.


 Slanting: Sloppy appearance of plants whether curved or straight, the
whole trunk leans at a definite angle.


Semi –cascade and Full-cascade: Semi and full cascade view of plant. The trunk has a
natural taper and gives the impression of the
forces of gravity. The style occurs in nature when trees grow on
cliffs or overhang water.


Multiple Trunks: Management more than one trunk in a particular container.


Group planting: Plants in groups within a container.


Raft Broom: Trunk to be twisted on regular intervals 


 Rock-grown: Training plant which gives the appearance of emerging from rock.






Prerequisite in Bonsai making


1)   Plant selection: Selection of a particular plant is an individual choice but care has to be taken to opt for plant species of a particular temperature origin which can sustain under harsh conditions as well.

2)   Time of planting or sowing for bonsai making: Planting or sowing seeds is an individual choice but preferably one year old plant can be opted for bonsai making.

3)   Plant training procedure: One has to learn the technicalities of growing ,training and pruning before starting bonsai making.

4)   Training and Pruning operations: Root and shoot pruning and initial training needs a lot of skill so careful programming can be carried out.

5)   Suitable container: ceramic pots to be opted.

6)   Optimum watering and nutritional management

7)   Root, shoot and foliage Balance


Growing media


Well drained and porous growing media is a prerequisite for any plant so is the case with bonsai plants. Basic rule is to make a mixture of organic manures, sand and soil at equal proportions. Nowadays some nano chemicals are available for nutrient and moisture conservation and those can be incorporated in the growing media. Besides this biofertilizers can be used at optimum level. Chemical fertilizers should not be used in Bonsai growing media. Organic manures have a lot of benefits and one important benefit includes giving a boost to the biomass of a plant. Besides this soil should be tested for pH before using in growing media. Bone meal is one more component which can be added in growing media.

Planting time

March –April and August- September. is the ideal season of planting for bonsai purposes.


Plant , container, Growing media, Potting sticks, Copper wire 10 to 22 gauze , Wire cutter , Pruning knife, secateurs, Cane for watering.


Make  growing media and make a hole in the container before filling it. Fill half or one third  of the container with growing media and then position the plant in the container keeping in view its aesthetic view. Let the plant settle for 20 days to one month. Use copper wire for bending and shaping plants as per your choice. Let the plant assume its shape and wait for the time to remove the wire. Maintain optimum moisture in the plant. Keep the plant under shelter and avoid its exposure to harsh conditions. In subsequent years keep in mind that reporting has to be ensured during spring season and training, trimming and pruning of roots and shoots has to be ensured. Balance of roots and shoots has to be ensured and care has to be taken that not more than  one third of roots or shoots has to be cut. Stress conditions of growth is pre requisite for successful bonsai.


Plants for bonsai in hills

Any perennial plant can be trained for bonsai purposes. However in fruit plants like Apple, Wall nut etc  we have to ensure dwarf rootstocks while as in ornamentals budded or grafted plants should be opted wherever applicable. In ornaments and forest plants Aucuba, Azalea, Camellia, Chinar, , Ginkgo, Maples, Magnolia, Peach, Pines, Silver fir, Spruce, Taxus, Willows etc can be opted.



Repotting is a very important step in Bonsai making. Plants which require reporting after 2 to 3 years should be put in suitable pots which can feed the plant for this duration. Care should be taken to repot in spring and replace the existing soil with fresh soil and no damage to the root system. After reporting plants to be kept under shade to settle and not to be exposed to full sunshine. Later the plants to be accommodated as per the habitat of the plant which ranges from shade loving, semi shade loving to full sun loving plants. In conifers and sensitive plants the root system should not damage.

Pruning and Training

Root punning or training through trimming are important operations in bonsai making. This operation is very sensitive and needs a lot of skill. One has to be careful to prune or trim roots or shoots during spring when new growths are expected. This will endure long term sustainability of a plant.

Selection of containers and adornments


Different shapes of containers like round, rectangular, oval, etc are opted for different types of bonsai and it is very important from an aesthetic point of view. Material of pots like plastic, ceramic or fibre is another consideration for bonsai. Most preferable one is ceramic as it provides proper aeration, adornments like ornamental rocks, moss cover etc adds beauty to a bonsai plant.

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