Our Earth Has Some Cool Plants On It | The Bonsai Tree
One of the many blessings the earth gives us is the amazing range of plants and animals in the wild. There are some plants and animals unique to certain areas only, some that offer health benefits, and others that are simply beautiful. Often times, we keep our favorite plants (and animals) near us, in our homes or gardens. One fascinating and unique type of plant that people like to keep in their homes and care for, is the Bonsai tree. There is not one specific tree that is Bonsai, but rather Bonsai is the art of keeping dwarfed trees that resemble fully grown ones.
Although Bonsai is a Japanese word, the art originated in China. Ancient Chinese students around 2000 years ago began creating reproductions of beautiful landscapes in order to obtain their blessings and magic. Around 700 AD, Japanese Zen Buddhists took this artistic style and modified it from entire landscapes to single trees. The word Bonsai in Japanese fittingly means “planted in a container”. Other cultures like the Vietnamese have used the art of Bonsai as well, calling it “Hòn Non Bộ”.
From Ancient to Modern Time
As the Japanese embraced the art of Bonsai, the love for creating beautiful plants only grew. Many Japanese monasteries taught Bonsai to their students, often having a Chinese instructor. As the Japanese Zen Buddhists began to modify the art to make it more their own, Bonsai gained a strong Japanese influence. This shows through the fact that the Japanese removed the traditional figurines and other plants in the containers, and focused on growing the one tree.
Bonsai in The West
With the world stage growing and interactions between the East and West more common, Bonsai has become a world phenomenon. You can find Bonsai in art. You can find it in film, or your average person’s home. The delicate art provides people all over the world with a hobby and many lessons. Today, with just the click of a button, you can even get a Bonsai tree shipped right from Japan! To me, the art of Bonsai has many different draws and benefits associated with the art. Different trees and plants have different meanings in Bonsai, from luck to love and peace.
Your Own Bonsai
You can grow and cultivate your very own Bonsai at home. First, you will need to source your tree. It is very rare for anyone to start a Bonsai with a seed, but instead source from a mature or partially matured plant. This allows the Bonsai to have that full-grown and mature characteristic they so often display. The most sought after trees, or yamadori, have been taken from their original living situations and carefully transplanted. The care requirements for your Bonsai are very particular and range from beginner to very difficult to cultivate. Taking care of your tree is the most important and artful part of owning a Bonsai, not just having it in your house.
Taking Care of Your Bonsai
As mentioned before, care for Bonsai trees ranges from beginner, to extremely complex and difficult. Normal trees have expansive roots that essentially can “reflect” underground, the mass and amount of branches above. The container for a Bonsai is only ever as deep as about 9 inches or so. This is unique environment of the Bonsai requires different care than normal trees through watering, pruning, specialized tools, re-potting and more.
- Water- Bonsai trees vary when it comes to the amount of water needed, and this can differentiate levels of difficulty, as beginner trees don’t need as specific of a regimen.
- Soil- Bonsai soil is a mix of loose soil that drains quickly to avoid drowning your plant. They vary when it comes to mineral requirements based on area of origin.
- Tools- Maintaining a Bonsai can be very difficult. Special tools for trimming and taking care of your plant makes it a lot easier to manage and there are many to choose from.
- Climate- Depending on whether your Bonsai is kept indoors or outdoors, there are different requirements for amounts of light and temperature for each different type of plant or tree.
- Wiring- In order to bend the branches of your tree to look the way you want, you have to wrap either aluminum or copper wire around them to shape them. Be mindful of your plant while you wrap them, because the wires can cause scars if the tree grows too fast or you remove them too late.
Great For Anyone!
Bonsai trees are a great gift idea for anyone. They not only are believed to hold special charms, they also teach lessons. You learn to be patient with your Bonsai, as you prune and mold it. You have to be mindful and careful to keep your tree healthy. In taking care of your Bonsai tree, you learn about the anatomy and physiology of plants as well. Bonsai, being an art, also brings out your artistic side. This can lead to creative breakthroughs and who knows? Maybe you will become a professional Bonsai artist and become famous all over the world!